Those who read LAADD know that I tend to avoid the topic of dating. It’s a tough one. And honestly I have limited experience in that area. But recently I’ve received several questions about on-line dating services so I thought I would break down and share my own, albeit brief, story and thoughts on the subject.
One day, not very long after my wife and I had established separate addresses and our divorce was final, my daughters started to promote the idea that I should get a girlfriend. The eldest then sent me a link to Match.com and both encouraged me to sign up. And of course as soon as you change your relationship status on Facebook, within minutes you’re inundated with ads encouraging you to find someone special along with links that can accommodate your heavy heart.
When your world has been shattered and the love of your life has grown to be, let’s just say, not so much the love of your life, the ability to search for new love on line is a tempting one. An irrational one, but a tempting one none the less. And of course, like many of you, I signed up for one of these services and gave it a shot. Forked over a good chunk of change and eventually went on a lunch date or two. I managed to meet one or two interesting people through the process, but for the most part I found the experience remarkably disappointing and disheartening.
I left with an opinion that on-line dating services were really just preying on lonely people. People who were searching for a sense of feeling attractive and loved. I personally have a problem with companies that take advantage of people who are vulnerable. And truthfully, my initial experience did nothing to change my mind, in fact it only reenforced it. Then, of course someone suggested the big daddy, e-Harmony. “They’ve got it down to a science” I was told. “They’re commercials are awesome!” And so, somewhat reluctantly, and against my better judgement I gave it a shot. Shelled out $60 for a month and gave it a look. And within 4 days I felt the same sense of being taken advantage of and quickly called for a refund. That’s when the fun started.
“Unfortunately sir you’re outside the 3 day trial period and therefore a refund is not an option for you.” I heard this not once, but about 50 times through four calls with six service representatives. I explained the circumstances and that I hadn’t noticed the three day requirement and eventually offered to pay for the time I was on, but felt $60 for 4 days was a bit ridiculous, thinking any rational individual would see that truth. But to no avail. They just kept selling and selling and sticking to their policy with no wiggle room. Their script was well rehearsed and their reps very well trained to refute any rebuttal. They had my cash and weren’t letting go. If I didn’t have a bad taste in my mouth before, I certainly did now. For me this just confirmed my belief that, while it may work for some and there are likely success stories, for the most part they’re just a business that preys upon the lonely.
Obviously, this was just my own experience and obviously I was skeptical to begin with. But then I looked around on line and started to find story upon story from people of all walks of life that sounded very similar. You may find success with these on-line companies, but my honest opinion is that they’re more song and dance than substance. It’s a game of percentages and for them apparently every penny is sacred. It’s a business after all and whether you find success or just spend a few days (more than three anyway) on the site looking around; don’t expect to get any money back if you’re not thrilled with the product.
When your marriage is in turmoil or when it falls apart completely, it’s natural to look to others for a sense of feeling attractive, worthy and wanted. There’s comfort in that. And perhaps these on-line dating services help in some way to provide that confidence again as you receive “winks” from other members who want to get to know you better. But before you pull out your credit card, first take a look on line to read about other people’s experiences. Then take a good hard look at where you’re at in your personal rebirth. Are you seriously ready for a new relationship? Are you prepared to move forward? Is your heart truly healed and your head prepared to focus on someone new? And by all means, be prepared for what you’re getting into and keep your expectations realistic. The dating scene is a tough one whether off line or on.
Personally I’ve come to believe you really need to first focus on being comfortable with yourself and feel good about being alone. Get to know who you are and how great it can be to be self sufficient. That’s not to say you shouldn’t lean on others. It just means the more you can be OK being alone, the less likely you are to put too much pressure on a relationship, which in turn will make it healthier and balanced.
Remember, there are people out there who see your vulnerability as a chance to make a quick buck. They’ll promise you love, riches, lower interest rates, a free i-pad, even hair if they think they can tap that insecurity of yours and get you to pull out your credit card. Am I cynical? Yup. I’m also a hopeless romantic. But experience has taught me that all good things take a lot of time, a significant amount of effort a little luck and most important of all, the right state of mind. That last one is key. I’m a passionate person, but have learned the hard way more than once, that a decision based on emotion can really bite you in the ass (and the pocket book).
Have you had any experience with on-line dating services? Would love to hear about it good or bad.