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My Second Date with Online Dating

Looking for love online. Again.

I think I’m ready to test the online-dating waters again. It’s been a year since I cancelled my JDate membership and for those of you who’ve yet to venture into that world, let me tell you, it’s not all roses and butterflies.

Before I joined JDate the first time, I was more than a little hesitant. Was my future husband really waiting in a sea of thumbnail-size photos on a computer screen? I naively watched a series of success story videos showcasing elated Jewish couples parading their newborn babies, outfitted in over-priced onesies and matching headbands. I bought a three-month membership that night.

My dating history is quite the melting pot, and at this point, I think I’ve seen a little bit of everything. I don’t have a type exactly. And because I’m a hopeless romantic who lets her imagination run wild, I often end up with men that make zero sense for me. From a professional football player to a backwoods country boy who drove a pickup and owned a Schipperke mix named Dolly, my dating dance-card runs the gamut.

That said, before JDate, I’d never dated a Jewish guy seriously and I figured maybe that’s where I was missing the boat. What’s that they say in West Side Story — stick to your own kind? Maybe there was something to that, I thought.

Sadly, turns out it’s not that simple. My last JDate boyfriend — we’ll call him Mr. Emotionally-Stunted Jew Boy (ESJB) — taught me that lesson firsthand: There are just as many Jewish dirt bags lurking online as there are gentiles.

Don’t get me wrong. ESJB had his good points. Fantastic sense of humor? Check. Intense chemistry? Check. Emotional intelligence? Not so much. And that’s where it seems a lot of men fall off. Somewhere between being a boy and becoming a man, so many 20-something guys (and often older ones too — eek!) seem to get stuck at Man-Baby Central where maturity is a sparse commodity.

I’m not talking adorably immature a la Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. After breaking up with me several times — including once on my birthday — ESJB had the nerve to text me asking for provocative photos while out drunk with friends. This from a man with a Master’s in Education. 

And I found lots of men like him online. I avoided the obvious losers — shirtless bozos posing with expensive cars, ‘hey baby’ IMs — but the real jerks were harder to spot.

Mixed in were the ones who said they wanted a relationship in their profile but actually just wanted sex (shocking, I know), the ones who wanted to exchange endless flirty e-mails but couldn’t hold an in-person conversation, and of course, the guys whose eyes rarely met mine because they were too busy ogling cleavage.

It seemed for every normal guy, there were nine more that sent me running the other way. I started to wonder if I was just supremely unlucky in love or if finding a solid guy for any girl was like solving a Rubik’s cube with one hand tied behind my back. Was I stuck in a Sex and the City episode? Ugh. How cliché.

Finding out that JDate wasn’t the Holy Grail was a bit of a blow, but I’m hopeful that this time around, armed with a bit more experience, I may just find what I’m looking for.

So it’s time to get strategic. And that’s where you come in. As I’m working on my profile, and really giving some thought to the type of guy I’d like in my life, I want to hear from you. What’s the one thing you’ve learned from online dating that I have to know before I dive back in? They say one in five relationships starts online — share your tips with me in the comments below or on Facebook if you got ‘em, and I promise to let you know how jumping back into online dating goes in the coming weeks.

Editor’s note: The next column installment will run Dec. 26.

Sarah Millard December 05, 2011 at 05:49 PM
I've tried a lot of different sites - Match.com, OKCupid.com, eharmony.com and even those Christian dating websites since my faith is an important part of my life. Not only were they pretty much all the same "gentlemen" on each site, I hated wading through the profiles. I developed a system. Search for what I am interested in. Look at pictures - the men with pictures of them doing keg stands or flocked by women get thrown out. Profiles that are too boring, too generic or they come across as a real tool - get thrown out. Maybe this means I am being too picky, but after talking to a few guys, advancing to Facebook friends (one was still in a relationship and hadn't changed that on Facebook and went straight for e-harmony......really??), it was one date after all of that. Nice guy. No sparks. We talked for awhile after that, but it didn't go anywhere. So, in interest of saving money for me, I shut down my accounts last week and I'll just see what's out there. It might not be much, but there isn't much to offer me online. Anyone else have online dating horror stories? (although, my dates that I met in real life were much, much worse....)
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) December 05, 2011 at 06:26 PM
I know a couple that met online and are now happily married. I don't know what their secret is, though...but I know it can happen! It sounds like you have some good advice for weeding through the pool, Sarah.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) December 05, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Perhaps you should take a closer look at the "boring" profiles. As a woman who has been womanized, I've learned that the men you immediately click with are the ones who will eventually break your heart. A "boring" profile may mean that the fellow is also frustrated and too self conscious to write a zippy profile. The guys that take time to reveal themselves may turn out to be the keepers.
Paraag December 05, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Sarah, check out HowAboutWe.com. It's an online dating site that's all about the date activities you want to do with other people. It's about getting offline as quickly as possible instead of spending all your time reading profiles.
Susan Shapiro December 06, 2011 at 12:58 AM
My former student who has just found the love of his life on JDate offers the following advice: stick to it. It took him years, but it's worth it. Both said they went on a lot of DREADFUL dates, but, hey, they were only dates. And let me think: Joanna with a goy... Not so much...
Erika Gayle Ettin December 06, 2011 at 03:54 AM
Ah - this story sounds like mine. For every good date, there were probably nine bad. But what I can tell you is that when you write your profile, make sure it really describes you, not the you that you think people want to see - the real you, quirks and all. Someone will love you for all of it. I think you'll like my story of how I met my bf on JDate and then started a business helping others do it: http://www.alittlenudge.com/about-us Thanks! Erika :)
annie December 06, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Online dating/meeting is a needle in a haystack. Being a baby boomer, I have found that most men want to meet the PERFECT woman. As if a perfect woman or man exists! No baggage, so in my case, that means NO KIDS under 21! So, my advice is: trust your gut. No picture on a man's profile? he is probably married. One way to find out, is check out his facebook page. If its private, you know the answer. If he says he has a pic, get a copy asap. No point in emailing, chatting online, or talking on the phone without knowing who it is. IAt age 26, what you see is usually what you get. For me? I have seen plenty of pictures that the man says he is 45-50 and the reality when you meet, is closer to 65-70. Who do they think they are kidding? I stay away from profiles that say: looking for my Queen, my Princess, etc. These guys are usually desperate and have issues of their own. There are a lot of dating sites out there. I wouldn't stick to one. Plentyoffish is a good one, its free, and you can change your profile whenever you want. Just remember, anybody can be anything online and they are!
Brandy Walker December 06, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Hi Joanna, Love you post! I remember those times when I was looking for Mr.Right and always ending up finding MR. HELL NO! Looking back one thing is certain. I didn't find my Mr. Right until I stopped looking and started focusing on myself and what I wanted. Love happens when you least except it and when your not searching for it. Good Luck!
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) December 06, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Hey Joanna, what if you meet the perfect guy on the first date out? You won't have any more material for your column then! I wonder what the chances of that are.
Betsy Brint December 06, 2011 at 04:08 PM
I say get out there on as many sites as you can handle. Go on quick first dates with an easy exit strategy. Sure, I've been out of the dating scene for a while - but one thing I know is that you can tell a lot about a person in the first five minutes. And stay away from those older guys looking for a fresh, young, perky, inexperienced, idol worshiping gal. There is a reason their age appropriate wives left them! Good hunting!
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:02 PM
I think you may be onto something, Lorraine. And you're right--the guys that give you the real snap, crackle, pop are 9 times out of 10, the ones that end the worst. Aren't there nice guys that aren't boring?
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:03 PM
This sounds all too-familiar! Sarah, I hope you'll keep us posted.
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Loved your blog, Erika! I hope you'll tune in for upcoming columns and sound off with advice--it sounds like you've been around the online dating block a few times.
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Wouldn't that be nice! A girl can dream...
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Thanks for the insight, Betsy. I'm already on the lookout for those slimy older men after your last comment. The image you painted of spending my 20s in a carpool line for someone else's children was horrifying enough. I'll take a pass! As for the number of dates, you're right, I think it's a numbers game. I hate, hate, hate when guys want to endlessly e-mail and chat before meeting in person. We can have great conversations behind a computer screen but if there's no chemistry, what's the point?
Joanna Schneider December 06, 2011 at 07:22 PM
I haven't seen any men chime in here. Guys, anything to add before I start the online dating game? I'd love to have a male perspective. And an update to the poll: 65 votes since yesterday morning, and an overwhelming majority of you (56%) are encouraging me to double dip and do both JDate and Match.com. If you have other sites you think I should try (I've gotten several emails already--did you know there's a site exclusive for Ivy League educated men?), let me know that, too!
Tom Danziger December 06, 2011 at 07:52 PM
I would say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with going for exactly the kind of mate you desire to be in a committed relationship with. I actually met with my GF through online dating (Match), and I had to wade through a lot of "bummers" to do so. Multiple sites are the best way to go to increase your chances, and I also agree with the comment that you should try to find interesting aspects to some of the "plain/boring" profiles. I just remember how the most amazing profiles of the most attractive women were the ones that I felt all of the guys were flocking to, which changed the point of contacting them from finding love to a weird competition a la the bachleorette.
Joanna Schneider December 07, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Thanks for weighing in, Tom. It's great to hear some straight talk from a man's point of view. Congrats to you and your girlfriend on the online dating success!
Sally Higginson December 09, 2011 at 05:37 PM
I have a few questions about your profile. Did you write it yourself? One of my friends asked me to edit hers, and I discovered she had completely unvalued her strengths. Also, there may be some merit in letting a friend-- or even your mother-- look over the profiles of potential dates. You'd be surprised how an extra set of eyes can spot someone you might have overlooked or steer you away from an obvious miss. In the meantime, sign up for something or join a gym or take a class. Get out of the house and pursue stuff that interests you. Often that leads to meeting others.
Sally Higginson December 09, 2011 at 05:38 PM
oops. I meant undervalued
John Brinkmann December 11, 2011 at 02:20 PM
I cant speak for on line dating services Joanna but I did enjoy reading your bit---and look forward to future installments...To weigh in with my own two cents all the same, I'd say it's only a matter of time before before "the right guy" ventures into your life---He might be at an on-line dating service or even as simple as waiting in the same line with you at a grocery store---Keep an open mind and don't rule out chance meetings...I agree with Brandy that one needs to focus on personal wants, needs, and expectations---and this is not being selfish---it's imperative that you know your better half will always be there for you---and likewise...There's always going to be give and take, and some bumps in the road----but long term happiness comes from full commitment to work things out no matter how tough things might get...And there in lies the secret---never commit to anyone unless your fully confident their committed to being on the successful side of the 50% chance for failure...All best wishes to you and that lucky guy---he's out there---you just haven't met him yet---;>...PS---sorry but I have to take you to task on Seth Rogen in Knocked Up...As much the "slacker bum" role he plays, I found the movie's most endearing quality was how Rogen rose to challenge of parenthood and became a man.
Kathy Ruhnke December 12, 2011 at 09:44 PM
I really don't want to dissuade you from exploring dating possibilities, but I came across this and ... well, let's hope this guy is the exception and not the rule. http://thestir.cafemom.com/love_sex/129871/this_is_officially_the_worst
Erin Krex December 28, 2011 at 07:34 PM
I met my husband 10 years ago on Jdate. We JUST celebrated our 9th anniversary. I have to admit after I had dated everyone with the charateristics I thought I was looking for on jdate I changed everything like age, divorced etc and found my man. I emailed him and we went out for lunch. We were married 9 months later and VERY happy! You might think you know what you want, but try something totally different and you might be surprised.
Dafna January 09, 2012 at 09:16 PM
FYI, Plentyoffish.com is a terrible site. They send you tons of spam and advertising, and when I requested to be taken off of the site, they did not and have still not removed my profile. You get what you pay for with this site (which is nothing)! If you're looking for free, try OK Cupid. Although I am not an advocate of any online dating site.

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