IT HAPPENED TO ME: I'm Part of a Happily Married Couple And We Signed Up For An Online Dating Service
"I can't believe this! There's 16 other dudes that are better for you than me?!"
Apparently. Or at least when you decide to "get expertly matched on deep compatibility." The real problem? How to graciously explain why the virtual love gods have decided Ralph, a bonafide senior citizen, should make the cut over, well, your husband, now glaring at the computer screen over your shoulder.
And why exactly would a happily married, non-swinging, couple, be willingly to play this dating game in the first place? To explain this recipe for disaster, take one part New England winter, one part cabin fever, two parts too much TV, three parts hypnosis by non-stop ads promoting a free communication weekend and 17,000 parts courtesy of the young, perky, hyper-smug couples featured in them.
Oh, you know the ones. Spouting stuff like: We lived two blocks apart and didn't even know it. And: We've dated for seven months; our bond cannot be broken. Puh-lease. Not even the happy music accompanying their sappy narratives could prevent the skeptic in me from raging. Clearly, these lovebirds needed a reality check.
And so it began.
"Excuse me?! What do these young 'uns know about lasting love," I said. "No really. Is everyone using this service high? Someone else's brief fling is supposed to make me believe a series of computer generated questions is all it takes to predict long-term compatibility?"
Andre, being the awesome husband he is, just listened. Or pretended to.
"What their marketing department really needs to do is reverse the process. Find some married couples who've celebrated an anniversary, or two, or thirty, then have them take the same test. Then, if their system of algorithms starts pairing people already successful in love, that'd make everyone a believer."
And that's how Andre and I became the independent pilot study.
Unpaid (and unnoticed) of course.
Andre and I met over 20 years ago, the traditional way, working through college at our crappy part-time jobs that served the dual purpose of inspiring us to stay in school. We somehow fell in love, despite our uniforms of navy polyester pants (without pockets), plaid short-sleeved shirts and clip-on ties. Back in 1992, there were no profiles involved. And maybe, just maybe, we felt a wee bit left out.
Our (non) clinical trial came with a couple of self-imposed rules. We claimed to be unwed, because, understandably, married folks weren't welcome in these parts. We also needed aliases of course. No one wants to hear, "Sorry you and your wife split" in the grocery store. We also agreed not to confer over any questions to keep the process untainted.
And so, on a dark, cold Friday night, the experiment began. (The same one, that I'm now officially verbally trademarking, so that I don't lose millions when someone tries to take my brilliant idea as their own.) "Ashlee" and "Nathaniel," like those who have gone before, earnestly answered too many tedious questions, in preparation for meeting the love of a lifetime.
Even if they, I mean we, already had that on lock down.
When our results were tallied, it was official. The good news? We were both lovable. The bad? Apparently not by each other. While our initial cyber suitors numbered seven each, rising to 12 hours later, to that fateful 16 for me and 13 for Andre, neither "Ashlee" nor "Nathaniel" made the team.
And there it was. After years of believing we were a good match, undeniable scientific proof to the contrary. Our hearts were heavy. OK, not really. Our connection is undeniable. We were just mighty excited that we met the "old-fashioned" way, otherwise, Dandre, as our best man affectionately calls us, may have never been.
Epilogue: Late Monday afternoon the system finally matched us, to each other. "Ashlee" and "Nathaniel" have begun to date, after sharing the same bed since 1996.