Online Dating -- Yay or Nay?

People lie, misrepresent, take advantage of the Internet's anonymity, and don't look within to think about what they really want

Written by Chandrasana Ardha

Let me start by saying that there are almost no pros in online dating! It seems like SO much work for no promise of gain. Online dating is not for the sensitive, or for the faint-hearted. Right off the bat, I can say that if you approach it like a business, and each meeting as an interview, you may have success.

When I was living in Toronto, back in 2006 or so, everyone around me was online dating. All of my girlfriends were doing this -- and I was living alone at the time. It was the thing to do?Every cell in my body was against it, and I was getting tons of mixed messages from around me. A few being: age difference (I can date someone younger than me), religious or cultural difference, any other difference did not matter apparently) and while you're at it, why not have a first date with someone new three times a week? You can be having dates with multiple people, even kiss them, but until you have the talk of exclusivity, all was game. I knew I could never do that. But my girlfriends did! So I decided to give it a shot. What could I lose? I would just be honest and write what I wanted on my profile and present who I was, and hope it would resonate somewhere with someone, right? Wrong. Instead, a lot of weird things happened. I met a lot of weird people, which made me come to the conclusion that online dating is mostly a waste of time, and success is there only because statistically and mathematically, it would have to occur (which it does).

Here are a few delightful highlights/stories:

The guy with a George Clooney voice who slurped while he ate:

As the title suggests, this guy sounded great on the phone and even seemed great in his photo (lesson #1: people never look like they do in their photos: usually worse in person.) He claimed to be 5"9', while I am 5"8'. When we met, somehow he was chubbier than in the photo, and more importantly, shorter. He slurped while he ate, and I ran the other way. Why lie? Did he simply estimate his height?

The "kid" who broke my David Bowie CDs:

Lesson #2: Lying about age...he was 5-6 years younger than me and lied about it. I lent him my David Bowie CDs after we listened to some jazz in a club, and he returned them broken...when I protested, he had the audacity to say "they aren't even collector's CDs!"

The guy who wrote in the relationship section he wanted to be in a relationship but wasn't sure:

The site I was trying had 3 sections where you chose your orientation: DATING/RELATIONSHIP/INTIMATE. Dating for those just dating (whatever that means: I never understood what dating meant even after 11 years in North America), relationship for something more serious and long-lasting, intimate for those who only want sexual encounters without commitment, I suppose. My conclusion: the people in the intimate section were the most honest and even had real relationships blossom out of initial sexual encounters. Maybe It's because they're more honest and don't beat around the bush. My other conclusion was that you might as well consolidate all three choices into one, they have very little relevance when you're there. You are how you feel in that moment: you can say you want a relationship while you're actually better cut out for dating, but you insist on seeking a relationship because it seems like the right thing to do. So this guy fell into that category, he just didn't know what he wanted. I won't go into detail. Lesson #3: don't assume people know what they want.

The guy who cheated:

It's one thing being cheated on in real life, but It's quite another to be dating online and go on a few dates with someone only to find out he's still out there "shopping", looking. It's weird. When confronted, he said "I was didn't mean anything". Come again? Lesson #4: no one is accountable for anything as the rules aren't defined well.

The guy who becomes a shoulder-to-cry-on and then you decide to meet for the sake of it:

I added this guy on MSN when people still used msn, only because the site I was on matched us up and it didn't even make sense: I lived in Toronto, he in Seattle. We even laughed about it: "haha, look how they matched us and how this makes no sense!" With the feeling that nothing would happen anyway, we chatted on msn freely and told each other our horror dating stories with others. He was a classic jock: played football, was athletic, a workoholic with a great job, liked his six-pack beers on Friday evenings, watched the Superbowl religiously, etc. We spoke on the phone, we texted almost everyday during a time where there were no smart phones. All of a sudden, he suggested coming to Toronto to meet me... "just to see". It had potential to be a romantic enough story. Well, he arrived and it was plain awkward. It was February, really cold and snowy outside, so the things we could do outdoors were limited. One day we were hanging out in my apartment and he did a few really shocking things I cannot share here. Suffice to say they concerned differences in hygiene and rules of etiquette! Oh dear God. So much for the American dream...

OTHER GENERAL OCCURANCES: women lie about their age and put more attractive photos up than they are in reality. (Objects may appear more attractive than reality) Men lie about income, height and marital status. Everyone lies about what they want. Men pose in front of expensive cars or with a baby in their arms, "my niece! She's 2.5" in order to get the woman to think he wants/likes kids...The car was borrowed from a friend. Everyone enjoys long walks on the beach and loves movies.

Everyone loves travelling and cooking, exploring new cultures. Wow! Profiles that try to be original but aren't: Travel, surprises, music, dancing, sports, books, last minute plans, open mind, photography, museum, craziness, spontaneity, going out (but also staying in), sharing, simplicity, respect, flip flops (yes, the sandals), down to earth (however fantasy is also very important), people, casual, word, news, work, sense of humour about yourself, awareness. BARF.

And now on how it could work: I had some friends meet online, and they ended up falling in love and getting married. It was her second date, she didn't even have to try hard. I just think that's math: coincidence, luck, statistics, and a bit of magic. They still told their elders at the wedding that they met in university, though. Interesting. Another couple friends of mine met online and that was through E-harmony, which is supposed to ask you a zillion questions and match you up better. They were truly matched well, so I consider that a success story as well.

So I suppose online dating CAN work. But I still stand by the opinion that for the most part, it doesn't. People lie, misrepresent, take advantage of the Internet's anonymity, and don't look within to think about what they really want so that they can attract that. I also think it was complicated in a multicultural large city such as Toronto. What were the rules? Too much choice means complications too just like you walk into Starbucks and you can order a "non-fat extra-hot tall skinny decaf latte, with whipped cream and sprinkles on top", or you can go into a Bar in Italy and say, "one Espresso, please." and that's it. What's better? I think we all know, or I do.