I joined Match.com because I wanted to meet the “one,” or attempt to meet the one, but I soon found out that free meals were a perk.
That's when I came up with a new goal: Pay off my Match.com membership (12 months X $21 = $252 total) with the meals men bought me, all within a month's time.
This goal also relieved the pressure from trying to find the supposed knight in shining armor.
They say you meet him when you’re focused on something else, so I focused on food. This is my childhood talking: The one that fixes problems with chocolate.
This experiment also took the weight off of saying I was “online dating.” It’s more commonplace now, but I was still a little embarrassed. I figured if I didn’t take it seriously, it wouldn’t be so awkward or disappointing if it didn’t work.
I joined Match because I had reached the point where traditional methods were not yielding the results I wanted, so online dating seemed like a good alternative. I dated the usuals. The guy I met at the club? He turned out to be a crazy club rat. The guy I met at the party? He was a hippie with a soul patch. The college classmate? He wanted to settle down right away, and I still had some party left in me.
I wasn’t mean in this process. I wasn’t even demanding. I didn’t choose the restaurant and when I did, I found something that was about two dollar signs on Yelp reviews. I always picked something average-priced on the menu, never anything extravagant like lobster. I never ordered alcohol, or even appetizers or dessert. I think I was being very fair, to the point of being cheap.
I came up with some rules.
I’m a staunch feminist, but I do believe in dating gentlemen. I think the guy should pay for the first meal as a demonstration of how he wants to treat you. My sense of feminism is that each partner is equal to each other, not better than, so just like a man should cater to his woman, a woman needs to treat her man right. Once in a relationship, I split everything.
For this experiment, I opened up the field. I accepted dates from men I usually would say no to for superficial reasons, like height. I’m only five feet tall, but I preferred tall men. I like monstrous hugs. Being Asian American, I also had a tendency to date Asian, so for this project, I accepted races of all kinds, and guys with careers of all types.
I put in rules for my own safety. I never let a guy pick me up, just in case he was a serial murderer, and I needed my car for a quick exit. If I was wary about the guy, I picked a spot that was near to where my friends were hanging out that night. Before each date, I texted a friend -- many times my biggest male friend -- where I was just in case I needed rescuing. One can never be too careful.
I met a whole range of guys on this experiment from sweet to sour -- a gangly man who had to collapse to fit into his Mini, a French man who wanted to compare who had the better dating profile, a Stanford graduate who kept boasting about his intelligence, a wannabe-cop with buggy eyes, a faux-hawked punk who dressed better than me and a nebbish editor who was just a little taller than me.
I never backed out of a date and was cordial throughout. I kept the conversation going, and didn’t promise a second date if I wasn’t interested. I loosely kept track with entree prices, seeing how far I got.
Then, on Valentine’s Day I upped the ante.
I said yes to three dates. I intended to out-romance the romantics, and not let the Hallmark-laden holiday ruin my meals. I had happy hour, dinner and cocktails. I think the gift of chocolates over dinner is what pushed me over the top of the membership goal.
Shortly after Valentine’s Day, I did meet somebody worthwhile through Match. He wasn’t Mr. Forever, but he was perfect for then. He was tall, dark and handsome, but we were polar opposites. I attended Berkeley, he a military college. I was an Independent. He was a Republican. We didn’t agree on anything actually, just on our devotion for each other. I quickly signed off my Match antics for him.
It didn’t last long, but it lasted a lot longer than Mr. Hippie-soul-patch. I also learned a lot about myself in the process. I finally understood that just because a man is good doesn’t mean he’s good for you. I also figured out my relationship deal-breakers, needs and wants. Most of all, I learned that being single wasn’t too shabby when you have a world of men wanting to take you out to eat.
Ironically, I did meet somebody off of online dating, much later though, off of the free site, OKCupid, so money wasn’t an issue. This guy paid for the first date, a whole boat of sushi. I only ate a few pieces, while he fired off a slew of awkward questions. The first date flowed from dinner, to drinks and then a walk on the beach. He was earnest and nervous, so I gave him another chance.
And although we’re opposites, he’s Mr. Now and Later.
He’s not the most polished -- he considers jeans formal -- but he makes me laugh. Most of all, if we argue, I care about fixing our problems.
So, it looks like online dating did accomplish my two goals after all. I got my cake and ate it too.