Adventures in Online Dating Chapter Twelve: FURTHER REFLECTIONS
I put Match #2 and #3 “On Hold.” eHarmony tells me that before I do that, I have to tell them why. I can choose from a list of at least fifteen different reasons (cue Paul Simon music, “There must be…fifty ways to leave your lover…”). I tell Match #2 “You have not been prompt in responding to my questions,” (that’s the MIA Buddhist) and I tell Match #3 “I am currently communicating with another Match.” I close another dozen or so matches, curse the full-time job this has become, and sign off the internet, relieved to have caught up on yet another day’s work of online dating. Yes, folks, this can become quite time consuming.
Match #1, meanwhile, makes all the right moves. So right, that I can’t write about him anymore because he is “real” now and I’m not interested in chronicling the nuances of how this develops from here on out. Match #1 is not banned from the blog forever, but I must say that reaching Open Communication with him effectively closed part one of this book, so to speak. There will be more updates, tasteful and minimalist in style, and they will probably occur after we’ve met up in Asheville for a date (yes, that is going to happen).
A New Match comes in from not too far away and even though I am more than pleased with Match #1, a few days ago I sent him my First Questions just out of curiousity. He has yet to respond and tonight, hanging out at Noelle’s and comparing our New Matches, we discover that not only did she get him as a New Match as well, but they’re already in the “Second Questions” phase of Guided Communication. Yes, I tell her, for the record he’s chosen her over me. We have a good laught over this and it occurs to me, immediatly, how much of a show this sort of selection would have been if it had been in person, up on Conley Ridge, in our small community of artists at the craft school. Suddenly, this feels safer (usually not the first word people think of when they think of online dating).
3,000 miles across the country in Seattle, Jane* has been busy busy busy following these chronicles and joining in on the eHarmony ride as well. She’s the friend who reminded me not to do anything shady and meet someone in a tobacco barn on Lower Pig Pen Road. She’s also the one who told me she had a friend that dated online just to learn more about herself, and learn more she did. We all are learning, no doubt, and perhaps most startlingly, we’ve had some interesting discussions about race.
When you sign in to eHarmony and take the Personality Profile across 29 dimensions, one of the questions you’re asked is about race. What ethnicity are you willing/interested in dating? I checked all of them without a second thought…but as my New Matches started to roll in, I couldn’t help but pay attention to my initial reactions. I’ve had friends from varying ethnic backgrounds, but have I ever been knock-me-down, biologically, phermonally, attracted to, for example, a Pacific Islander? And what can be said about religion? Have I ever been drawn, with primitive inquisitiveness, to a Muslim? I don’t know. How much exposure have I even had, in my protected life, to BONAFIDE diversity? How much of our preferences are determined a priori or a posteriori? How much of who/what/how we think we like things/people/places is actually biological, even genetic?
Now wait just a second here. All I did was sign up for one moth of eHarmony and now look where we’ve gotten ourselves…But I can’t resist this line of inquiry, as difficult as it is to make it public. What can be said of occupation? I’ve closed more matches with IT guys, military officers, and cops than any other occupation (45 all totalled, and that’s in just 8 days). What about people who said they are “most passtionate” about “going to church”? What about those Matches that said they are “most thankful for” “the prophet,” not to mention those others who were “most thankful for” “gun, beer, and women” (in that order)? At what point does pickiness become predjudice?
Leave it to Jane to have the answers to have the answers to the tough ones. Check out this link to learn more about implicit discrimiation, the ways we do and do not allow ourselves to see our true (albeit sometimes embarassing and ignorant) colors: http://www.implicit.harvard.edu.
*This is what “Jane” said when I she called, delighted to have discovered herself in the blog. She’s too hilarious not to quote: “Can my fake name be Jane? It’s my favorite name and the one I use in any situation I don’t want people to know my name. It was my grandmother’s name, and I loved her, and I want to name my daughter Jane if I ever decide to have one. I’m beginning to think I may just have to name a guppie that instead. Or like, a jade plant…Something I can’t kill and didn’t give birth to but I can get rid of whenever I want…”