It has been over a year since my separation and six months since my divorce. Both my brother and sister have been urging me to get on match.com for months - my happily married sister's good friend at work had luck there and my younger brother (26) in law school had luck. "Giz," they told me over the phone, "It's cool to get on match.com now! Everybody does it!" But they are both in Atlanta - way more cosmopolitan than Little Rock, Arkansas. So I have been highly skeptical. And not ready. Still not ready, but sometimes I think for me just getting into something - even a friendship - slowly, might be an important step, based upon my history.
So Friday night, after dinner with a friend and a couple of glasses of wine, I took the plunge.
No most of you happily married mom's out there have no need to get on match.com, so I'll tell you a little about the premise. You set up a profile, with photos and interests, not unlike Facebook. You have a profile page, with a header (It's what everyone reads first - sum yourself up in a simple sentence that will grab someone! - puke) and a ridiculous amount of space to tell who you are and who you are looking for. They give you enough room to write two essays. I wrote two short paragraphs. Anyone who wants to know more, I decided, could find out in a message.
There are three ways to communicate with someone - instant message, message, and winks. The winks show a small picture of the person winking at you with a link to their profile. They tell you to "wink back or send him a message." The next morning, I had a bunch of winks. I was deflated. The winks annoyed me right away. What the hell does a person do with a wink? And some of the people winking so completely grossed me out that I wanted to close out my profile and hand back over the sixty bucks I paid for three months. I sent a message to one person that winked, trying to find out about the winks ("Are they like a poke on Facebook," I asked? Not that I've ever poked anyone) and the ensuing brief exchange of conversation was so abysmal that I vowed never to respond to a wink again - Tenet #1.
Then there are all the strange messages. I don't know why many guys think it is perfectly appropriate to approach a girl they do not know with text message abbreviations. I don't even understand half of the text message abbreviations. Tenet #2 - do not respond to messages written in text slang.
Tenet #3 was formed quickly - do not respond to anyone who comes up with a tag name pairing their first name with the suffix -tacular. The tag name is the anonymous name you use that goes with your profile. I'll leave you to imagine the possible variations. Use your spouses or boyfriends name, for instance. Or mine. "Hello, I'm Giztacular."
Unfortunately (or not), my three tenets have severely limited my interactions on the site, which I can only manage to check for a few minutes anyway, after blogs and Facebook, at night. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I called my law school brother for support (who has been dating a smart gorgeous girl he met there for a couple of months) on Sunday night telling him I was completely disgusted, felt like I had been approached by a bunch of drunk rednecks at a bar all weekend (text abbreviations are kind of like slurring, after all) and wanted to close out the profile. He said, "It's work, Giz. You've got to laugh at all that, or you'll never get past it. You should have seen this lady twice my age in fishnets and bright red lipstick following me for days. There's a block function. If it gets too intense, use it. It's all anon, anyway. Edit your profile. Take your time. It will take a couple of weeks to get comfortable there, anyway."
I also got advice, strangely but happily, from my ex when I called to talk to the kids Saturday morning. He has apparently been on since last summer, and has had a few relationships. I did not tell him I was on - he had already seen me there. He told me to get a couple of things off of my profile that might identify me. He talked about some missteps he had that cracked me up. He cathartically described the women he dated, briefly, as if he had been holding back for a long time out of respect for me and my presence on the dating site released him. Then he wished me luck and offered to watch the kids if I ever needed help babysitting. Wow. What a difference a year makes.
Yesterday afternoon I got my first intelligent message. I came home, ran, went to get the kids, tucked them in, and decided to blog about this crazy embarrassing experience over the last few days. Now I think I'll send a friendly message back. It's nice to know there might be intelligent life on Mars, after all.