FRIDAY, NOV. 4 — Last week I wrote that I’d signed up with Match.com to find out if a woman I’d seen on the site was one I encountered in a grocery store last year, and to prove that I wasn’t too good for online matchmaking.
Well, she isn’t and I’m not, and at some point – probably sooner than later – I’m going to drop the subscription and take my chances with serendipity. But an odd thing has happened over the past 12 days. I’m becoming an older version of Ferris Bueller, a comforting dispenser of encouragement, wisdom and understanding to unrequited women.
Not all of them. My profile had 692 hits as of this morning, and 50 or 60 winks or emails, so there’s not enough time to answer them all. But there have been instances where a face, a phrase, a question, even a case of mistaken geography has moved me to respond not by clicking on the "No Thanks" button, but on "Send an email."
Wednesday night, I got a wink from a woman in Arlington, Texas, who wrote that she was just getting a divorce and "extremely nervous" about dating. Her profile said she was looking for a guy within 30 miles of Arlington.
I pointed out that Atlanta was just slightly beyond her territorial waters, and added: "It’s none of my business, but if you’re just separated and not yet divorced, you’re fresh paint. Wait until you’re not ‘extremely nervous,’ or even nervous. Your fears are thoughts; they exist only to the extent that you allow them to. You’ll be fine."
My answer must have reassured her. She hadn’t noticed that I was in Atlanta, she replied, but distance was no problem. Her ex is a pilot and she had plenty of passes.
The profile of a woman in Douglasville, Ga., was accompanied by a washed-out photo in a chaotic yard. There is no attraction, but I see that she’s 5-foot-3, so I tell her I’m looking for someone taller and nearer.
Her reaction: "…why do I need to be tall? I look tallish because I am thinish. And…it is not that far to my house, especially when there is no traffic, like at night and on weekends. Anyway, some things are worth traveling for."
I could drop it here, but I’m invested in a happy ending. I write: "You DON’T need to be taller. You’re just right the way you are, thinnish or not. I need someone taller because I’m 6-foot-3…."
An Atlanta woman sends a profile, and then pictures, and wants feedback if I find something "wrong." Again I feel nothing, but her message touches me. There’s nothing "wrong," I say: "By that reasoning, there are several billion women in this world who are ‘wrong’ because they don’t have that spark or whatever it is that I find attractive. That’s a terrible business, that kind of thinking…."
She persists: "Please tell me why you don’t think we match, even though we’ve never even spoken to each other… I know I am a great person and have a lot to offer the right guy…..but even though I’ve been told I am attractive, intelligent, warm, funny and exude sex, somehow something is not working. I’d like to know what."
My response: "My reaction was and is purely instinctive…and my feeling was we’re not a match, but no judgments about who or what you are…. It’s about attraction …chemistry…and if anyone had the answer to that, they’d bottle it and retire to Majorca.
"But I will say this: if you feel something is wrong, then it probably is. And the cool thing is there are ways to deal with it without spending a fortune and the rest of your life in therapy….
"…You’re perfect as you are. But like so many of us, you don’t know it and you don’t live it. This is a great time to be alive, though, because there are so many new ways to change, and so much support for it…."
I referred her to a therapist, and shut down the computer feeling I’d done something useful at the end of a day that hadn’t gone well.
I don’t know how long this urge will continue. This morning I hit "No Thanks" to a woman who was nearly a good fit, and didn’t bother to throw her a bouquet. It’s possible that feeling, that need to complete the circuit, to honor these women for their courage in reaching out and risking rejection is waning. But probably not. As I wrote to one of them, "I’ve become a lover of people. We’re all connected, and it’s a good thing to acknowledge."
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