I was a dating site virgin. I had already decided that after too many years without a romantic relationship, I had regained my status as virgin from a sexual standpoint, but that actually seemed less problematic than being a dating site virgin. As a writer, putting together a profile should have been easy, but it was not. What was important to say about myself? What could wait until a man and I had gotten to know one another a bit? How does one collapse the complexity of a life into a few paragraphs?
The one thing I knew was that if I was going to do this, I was going to represent myself honestly. I stretched my neck to get the kinks out, sighed deeply, and began: I’m a writer, editor, and practitioner of shamanism who works out in the weight room, gardens, cooks, is into the arts, and otherwise lives a flagrantly robust life. My kind of guy is intelligent, funny, and kind.
It seemed a bit lame, even as a summary, but I was at a loss to summarize it in any better way. In my description of the kind of man I was looking for, I was very clear that health, robustness, and physical fitness are important to me. I also spoke of things like awareness, presence, intellectual horsepower, curiosity, and integrity. And after years of diverting men with whom I felt no chemistry, I ended that section by saying that there had to be chemistry between us.
In the section in which I could expand on whatever I wanted to say, I provided a bit more information about myself, including what I saw as the riskiest things to reveal: that I am a mystic with a shamanic worldview and that for me, everything is about energy.
I had only one photo I was willing to put up on the site, the same photo I used on my Facebook page. It was a few years old, but it at least looked like me. I would add more photos as I could.
The easiest parts of the submission process included personal information: what kind of relationship I was looking for, my occupation, my religious and political leanings, the color of my eyes and hair, my body type, whether I had children, and other details. There were also a few questions that addressed interests and personality.
It all felt artificial and I felt foolish participating in it, but I completed the profile and got offline. I didn’t even do a search of available men in my area. It was enough for one day, and signing up on this site was the oddest birthday present I had ever given myself.
I didn’t expect what happened next. When I went into my e-mail, I had numerous messages from the dating site saying that I had flirts, had been chosen as a favorite, and had messages from interested men. I went into the site and was overwhelmed by the amount of contact, so I texted two of my apprentices who had experience with dating sites. One of them texted me back joking that I was the most popular girl in school. The other reminded me that she had warned that online dating was a time-consuming thing, primarily because you have to weed through a lot of potential dates who aren’t right for you.
I was beginning to see what they both meant. I was the new girl in school, so for about thirty seconds, I was going to be very popular. In rather crude adult terms, we call that “fresh meat.” And now I understood why these sites can eat a lot of time: There is a lot of traffic on them.
There seemed to be an entire subculture comprised of people in my generation who were looking for love, or lust, or friendship . . . or something with the opposite sex, and they had been nowhere on my radar screen. Was I passing them with my cart in the grocery store? Were some of them at the gym? And had I just become one of them?
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall