While she is experiencing life on the other side of the world from me, lostnChina recently wrote a great post entitled “The Sarcastic Woman’s Guide to Online Dating: The Whole Enchilada,” which I believe touches on some real issues those of us who have dared to look on the Internet for companionship have to face. She has also dated a man who is completely obsessed with Amway – which is something else we have in common. Yes, I will discuss my Amway guy in a future post – don’t you worry. Anyway, lostnChina sums everything up fairly early by saying, “Most online profiles come across as too-good-to-be-true and exaggerations abound.” She’s right about the profiles. I would like to add that e-mails and text messages that follow can have the same effect.
I was spending the night at my brother’s house after a festive Rosh Hashanah celebration and had my laptop out to look at online profiles. Honestly, is there a better way to close out a holy and blessed evening than perusing J-Date? We began instant messaging right away, and when we took those messages over to AOL, I knew our exchange was getting intense. Well, not really, I think we were both bored out of our minds and found that spending more than a few minutes on J-Date was embarrassing. In any case, we spent a few hours chatting that sacred night. One can say that our romance blossomed at the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Or not…let’s not get dramatic.
In his photos, Lee had really dark hair and eyes, looked to be in decent shape and wore dark framed glasses. Lee was the first (and only, now that I think about it) divorced guy I chatted with online extensively. It sounded like he had gotten married when he was very young to a girl who was from another country. As they both grew up, and she became acclimated to life in the US, they grew apart and their marriage ended. That detail is neither here nor there, but I was curious after meeting him how he was ever a married man, and I figure you might be as well by the time you finish reading this.
Once we used similar phrases to describe what we do for a living, we both realized that we worked in the same industry and as it turned out, knew many of the same people. Lee had a really dry sense of humor and we enjoyed making each other laugh through our quirky one-liners and stories of past experience. We e-mailed and texted back and forth for a few weeks to continue our intricate comedy show. He told the most entertaining stories and was as charming as can be. I loved the way he “spoke” during this time. It was both self-deprecating and sexy, since he had the confidence to say anything. And then it became time to meet in person.
I shakily approached the guy who looked pretty much like Lee’s photos and was standing outside the bar-restaurant we decided on for our first date. I gave him a big smile and told him it was great to finally meet him in person. He looked up from his phone long enough to make eye contact with me for about 2 seconds and mumbled a greeting, looking either like he thought I wasn’t the person he’d been texting for weeks, or he was absolutely terrified. It seemed to be the latter, since he did open the door for me to the restaurant and I lead the way to our table.
Once we sat down, we actually started communicating as though we had, in fact, been in touch for a while. However, he was really nervous. I asked him more than once if I had something on my face or in my teeth because he was now staring at me very intensely. Some stutters also came out of his mouth, but I was glad we were speaking. I ordered a vodka tonic from the waitress, and Lee did the same. And then his was gone within 5 minutes. He ordered another one, and then that one disappeared in pretty much the same fashion. After that happened I jokingly said, “Thirsty?” and he put his head down, and said he was nervous. I tried to explain that there is no need to be shy or anxious and that I met up with him because he seemed like great guy and we got along well thusfar. To give him a bit more confidence, I told him that I was glad he actually looked like his profile pictures. That didn’t help him much, and he told me that I was even more beautiful than mine. Aww, yes, that was nice to hear, but the compliments, and nervousness did not end throughout the entire date. After my second drink, I ordered an appetizer, which Lee said he was too shaky to eat but ordered another drink. We talked about some work things, and other general topics, but it didn’t seem like he was really listening to anything and just kept staring at me in that weird, creeper way. I was wearing work clothes – pants and a button-down shirt – and you would have thought I had on a negligee. I felt dirty.
The date lasted a bit less than two hours and Lee had ordered and drank a total of five cocktails. We parted with him still being shy, and me feeling like a supermodel. I had no idea what the hell had just happened, but he definitely was not the person I thought I had been e-mailing and texting with all the intimate details of my life with earlier. I have zero issues with anyone having as many drinks as they would like, but the lack of personality and creepy anxiety combined with the superfluous cocktail guzzling just confused me.
As I stroked my lustrous supermodel hair at my desk the next morning, I received an e-mail from Lee explaining that he had a great time. The only sign that I got that ‘electronic Lee’ was the same person as ‘date Lee’ was that he apologized at the end of his e-mail for being so nervous.
Then he asked me out again. And I had to refuse. That might sound really harsh, but you have to understand that when someone is nervous, to the point that they are borderline sinister, that doesn’t sit well with me. Confidence, and a clear speaking voice, are key.
If you feel bad for Lee, don’t. Facebook suggested that I become friends with him a year or so later, and his main photo included him smiling with a female, who I assumed was his latest love interest. Maybe she went shot for shot with him on their first date, made the first move and beat the anxiety out of him. Or maybe he read this:
And even after the Facebook suggestion, I made a huge social media faux pas and hit the wrong key on my LinkedIn profile. I ended up sending a bulk message to every person that the site thought I might know and invited them to be a connection. Lee was one of them. Being such an open and boisterous technological personality, he actually responded to my erroneous message, explaining in a lengthy manner that while my name and company sounded familiar to him, he had no recollection of ever meeting me. Tempted to remind him of his evening of creepdom, I started drafting a reply, recounting our courtship, and eventually decided against it.
Lesson learned. Always talk to your possible love interest on the phone before you meet in person. There is a lot you can learn from a person’s tone of voice that any amount of text and two dimensional photos cannot exude.
Oh, and don’t send bulk e-mails to strangers. You might end up reaching out to a blind date from the past.