Four weeks and four days after it began, my attempt at finding romance on the Internet ended essentially the way it began: loveless. With a few key strokes – and, a few days later, a testy follow-up email – I cancelled my subscription to Match.com and put an end to what had become a labor-intensive exercise with correspondents all over the country.
Despite specifying in my profile that I was interested only in women within a 50-mile radius of Atlanta, I had emails from two women in China (Guangzhou canton and Liaoning, for the geographically inclined) and another from Chon Buri, Thailand.
This side of the Pacific, I was contacted by women in California, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. And more than a few in Georgia who far more than 50 miles from Atlanta.
By the time Match.com finally took my profile out of circulation, I’d received 1,448 "views" and somewhere between 200 and 300 contacts. That includes 21 emails sent to me in the two days AFTER my subscription expired, at which point I sent Match.com a peevish email and was finally removed from circulation.
From what friends tell me, I got unusually heavy traffic, which may be why Match.com was reluctant to see me go. I attribute the traffic to a couple of things.
First, I encouraged it unwittingly by sending notes to some of the women who contacted me. I did so not out of romantic interest, but rather a soft-hearted appreciation at the risk they took in asking to be considered. A friend of mine called it my "ministry."
Second, any man between 50 and 65 who takes care of himself physically and cleans up his personal issues is a rarity, and a hot commodity among women.
What I don’t understand is why so many women ignored the warning in my profile. I wrote that I’d done a lot of work on myself and was looking for someone who had done likewise. Only a handful indicated they had any understanding of what I was talking about.
Beyond that, there is the simple matter of match-making: Take pictures and profiles and put them side by side. Is there a match? Not just visually, but philosophically and vibrationally as well. If not, why take the risk of being rejected?
The answer, I suppose, is the fundamental optimism of human nature. After all, Mel Brooks wound up with Anne Bancroft. Still, how a jowly woman barely 5 feet tall wearing a billowing, tent-like garment in Fern Creek, Ky., can imagine that a 6-foot-3 fitness freak in Atlanta is the man for her is beyond me.
In my own browsing I came across attractive and interesting women who indicated they would consider no man older than 58, even when they were 54 or 55. I could have written and asked them to make an exception, but it never seemed important enough to find out.
And maybe that was my problem. I wasn’t sufficiently motivated. I made direct contact with only three women. I had coffee with one, and she admitted that she needed "fixing," which disqualified her. Another was smart and interesting, and could yet prove to be a good friend. But the chemistry wasn’t there. The third reminded me so much of the woman I broke up with earlier this year – sizzling with charisma, but impatient and frenetic – that I bailed out after two brief phone conversations.
A few other things I learned:
One, do not tell a woman she’s too short. I had more angry comments about that than anything else. One accused me of being superficial. Another wrote "dynamite comes in small packages." Well, if I’m going to be superficial, I’m going to do it with someone who doesn’t make my back ache. And I’ve had enough dynamite in my life; I need something more like Prozac.
Two, some women hide their pictures and insist that you ask to see them. When I chided one woman for it, she wrote that she’d made a lot of friends that way. Well, that’s fine if you’re on Friends.com. I’m looking for a match: show me the photo.
Three, there is something addictive about getting new emails each day and wondering if this is your lucky day. But toward the end, I ran out of good vibes and simply clicked on "Not Interested. " That’s when I figured out, as I wrote to one woman, that I really wasn’t ready for romance.
Her reply put it all in perspective: "Bill, I wish you the best. A——."
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