Using online dating websites as a source for meeting eligible singles is, in theory, one of the best conveniences of modern time. Shopping for a potential date can now occur in the convenience of your home, or perhaps on the train as you commute into Manhattan. Online dating websites allow us to flirt while in our pajamas or in between meetings during the workday. Looking at profiles is really no different than looking at what color shorts are the must have summer fashion item from Lordandtaylor.com.
Online dating is as easy as buying a pair of shorts from Lordandtaylor.com, but what exactly is on the shopping list of the other online shoppers?
According to Match.com, Joel and I were a 100% match. After reading his profile, Joel reading mine, and the three-day marathon of texting and phone conversations we totally agreed. We really had only one difference- our favorite cardio activity. Joel was a runner. He runs almost daily, and participates in four marathons yearly. Whereas I, the man who saves running for train catching, am much more of a Spin Class guy. Joel would rather die than take a Spin Class. We agreed that our gym habits and physical training initiatives were not a deal breaker (and we each were grateful that we both saw importance in staying fit).
We met in Manhattan on a warm spring Saturday evening for dinner. So warm that when offered an outdoor table at one of my favorite French bistros, we jumped at it. Being with Joel was very refreshing. There was a level of excitement in the air because we were finally meeting, but overall the vibe was calm. The conversation flowed perfectly, much like the flow of people that turn off their computers opting to flow through the doors of Lord and Taylor on a Shopper’s Day sale.
From my favorite gougeres (cheesy poofs, but French!) to the perfectly cooked filet burger, the date was fantastic. As the date came to an end, there seemed to be a strange uneasiness that came over Joel. It was almost like he was laughing and having fun one moment, and then it was as if the gun fired to signal the beginning of a marathon and he was ready to hit the pavement. The end was abrupt, and not one bit reflective of the date. I was totally baffled by my goodbye with Joel- did I do something off-putting? Say something offensive?
The next morning I checked email, and there was a message from Joel…
Craig- I really had a great time with you last night. You’re everything I though you’d be and more. I haven’t been honest with you. I’m not available to be in a relationship because I’m already in one. I thought I was ready to leave, but I’m not. You’re going to make some very lucky man a fantastic partner- Joel
At least I know it wasn’t my breath.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what dating really is. Dating is part discovery, part fun and all interview. We’re spending time with someone to see if it’s a mutual fit that could have the durability to last a lifetime, like a good pair of Wellies. We use online dating as a tool because it’s easy, but there are many risks that come with it.
Your intention may be to see if you can find the one that’s a perfect fit. Their intention may be something totally different.
Joel wasn’t trying me on for a potential relationship. Joel was trying on what it would be like to be single again. From our conversations, he talked about his “Ex” in a rather unflattering way, providing many examples from chemical dependency to lack of affection. The descriptions alone were definitely reasons to end a relationship, which is what I thought Joel did quite some time ago. Unfortunately, Joel had not reached that point where he wanted to sever the cord that ties him to his partner.
On paper and in theory, Joel was a pretty perfect fit for me, but to him I was an experiment to see if being on the dating scene would be a fit.
Before the Joel-Bashing begins, we need to acknowledge that he did have the courage to come clean regarding the deception. It would have been nice if he would have done that prior to sharing a basket of gougeres, but at least he explained why he acted the way he did at the end of the date. He could have simply said that he didn’t feel a connection or that he downright didn’t like me. In the end, he chose the truth and I respect that. Knowing the truth certainly doesn’t diminish the sad feeling of “damn… and he was a good one too!”.
It does serve as a reminder to those of us that partake in online dating. Sure it’s easy, but sometimes what we order online doesn’t arrive on our doorstep in the right style, the right cut or the right fit. If those shorts from LordandTaylor.com don’t work for us, we simply return them, look online until we find something we like as much or better, and take our chances and click “pay”. We don’t take it personally; we just keep shopping.
We need to remember that the same rule applies to online dating.
Warm weather has finally arrived in New York, and as New Yorkers enjoy trading their winter coats for shorts, they begin filling their calendars with outdoor activities. “What are you doing for Memorial Day” and “Big Fourth of July plans?” are questions already being asked, and by some easily answered.
Marvin elected to ask me on a date first before asking if I was booked on July 4th. I met him via JDate, and Marvin was your typical big Jewish bear. 6’2”, football player build with a hairy chest that went for days, Marvin was totally bearlicious. Like many other potential dates, we enjoyed several fun conversations and flirty text messages. Seeing that he was handsome, smart and funny, I was very optimistic that our first date would be like the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks, but a couple months early.
When the online profile and pre-date communication are hot, what could possibly put out the fire?
Marvin and I agreed to grab a coffee and go for a walk on the High Line. When I met him, he was even cuter in person. He was even a little goofy, which really made him quite adorable. We grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and started our walk.
We were maybe 50 feet away from Starbucks when we heard the bing of his phone. It was one of his “girlfriends”, and it required an immediate answer. A few seconds later brought another bing, followed by necessity for an immediate answer. And it repeated… four more times. By this point, we had barely walked a block, and barely spoke 20 words to each other since Starbucks.
I held back on judgment, seeing that his friend could be having an issue and needed help. As he finished what was to be the last text, he told me that his friend was having a hard time figuring out what swimsuit to pack for a trip.
At that point, I felt the first few raindrops hit the metaphorical Grucci Brother’s fireworks barge. We arrived on the High Line, and started to dive into a conversation.
“So, Marvin, tell me about you!” I playfully asked.
“Well, I have serious abandonment issues. It stems from childhood.” he seriously responded.
And with that, the few raindrops turned into a nice sprinkle over the fireworks barge. As the conversation continued, the sprinkles turned into a full-fledged downpour. Marvin told a tale of woe that would rival any statement made by Debbie Downer. There were many stops on his Trail of Tears tour, including “I went to the wrong college”, “I hate cooked fruit- HATE!” and “I married a woman just to have a kid but she couldn’t get pregnant”. My personal favorite stop on his Diatribe of Despair was “Mental illness runs in my family- but I’m OK!”
The Grucci Brothers would have called it a rainout twenty minutes before I did. The date couldn’t be over soon enough for me, but somehow like a train wreck I just couldn’t look away. I was amazed at the amount of negativity one man could carry. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the funny man I chatted with during the week.
Twenty-five minutes after the date, I received a text from Marvin.
So… did you feel a spark?
What I wanted to say was that I feel grateful for the 99 problems I’ve got, because none involve fruit, mental illness or my alma mater. What I wanted to ask was what happened to the groovy firecracker I texted with earlier in the week. But my reply was actually worse… because I wimped out.
Well… I really don’t know.
As soon as I sent the text I hit myself for not being the direct guy that I have been previously on this whole dating mission of mine. Perhaps I was trying to spare him? His answer put that question to bed…
I cannot tell you how incredibly sad it makes me that you say that. I totally felt a spark, and I’m so, so sad you didn’t.
Just like the fizz of a firework that didn’t quite explode with its intended grandeur, Marvin was over and out.
I’ve used the analogy of dating and a toaster oven before in a video with my good pal and “work wife”, Dateologist Tracey Steinberg. My date with Marvin forces me to repeat that message.
When you think of the last time you took home a toaster oven to begin a hot relationship, the toaster oven’s first impression on you was most likely the features and benefits listed on the label. The initial message from your initial meeting was one of positivity, functionality and overall improvement of your life by bringing the toaster oven into it. Nowhere on the box does it say “I may burn your bread” or “Don’t even try melting cheese because I will scorch your countertop”. The toaster oven label lists the positives, and on a first date so should you.
Ask yourself… am I putting my best foot forward on this date or do I sound like I escaped from a Lifetime Made for Television Movie?
Let’s face it- nobody wants to date Debbie Downer. Nobody wants to be exclusive with her and certainly nobody wants to take Debbie Downer home to meet Mom and Dad. That said, we all have our baggage. We all have some sad things in our history and sometimes in our current. There’s a time and place to address those with your date if necessary. You ultimately determine the time that happens, however it’s a safe bet that the first date is not the time.
The first date is the time to spotlight your positives, not to hold a flashlight on any potential negatives.
As Tracey Steinberg would say, keep the conversation fun and flirty. Ask questions, give answers and truly allow your date to get to know your positivity as you get to know theirs.
And don’t forget to put your phone on Mute! Geesh!