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True Confessions of an Online Dater

I decided to try out online dating a couple years ago when I felt like I was not meeting the right person in everyday life. At the time, the whole online thing was suddenly becoming popular, and I figured I had nothing to lose.

I first checked out some of the more mainstream online services, but they just seemed too random, and most of the profiles did not appeal to me. A friend suggested a well-known Jewish dating service. This made more sense to me – it seemed reasonable that someone with a common ethnic and cultural background may have a better chance of working out than someone through a more mainstream service. When I looked at the profiles on this new website, I was pleasantly surprised. These women were on their way towards becoming doctors, lawyers, and other impressive-sounding professions. This was in stark contrast to the other services I’d briefly explored. I decided to try it out.

The first three dates I had did not go anywhere. In fact, they were outright depressing. The first young woman I met was very sweet when we talked online, and was eager to meet me. Nervous at the blind-date quality of this first encounter, I came to our agreed meeting place, and when our eyes met there was a brief look of familiarity, followed by a look of obvious disappointment on her face. We shook hands awkwardly, ordered drinks and she immediately began asking polite, impersonal questions, and reciting the bits she had memorized about me. Not surprisingly, she “had to go” soon after we met, and that she did. I contacted her a short time later, and she replied by saying, “you and I… we’re just not dating material.”

Stung by the rejection, I wanted to give up online dating forever, but I decided to give it another go. I met someone else not long after, a young woman who was in law school. She asked me many questions about my career and education. It sounded like she was filling out a questionnaire that was prepared by her parents. She told me afterward she was looking for someone in a more clearly-defined career path. A third woman I met was bright and upbeat, and for the first time, cool. She rejected me cleanly and simply in her polite after-date email.

I was becoming deeply disturbed by this string of rejection from strangers, but at the same time I started to see a pattern. These young women were looking for a set of objective requirements before they attempted any sort of romance. Sensible, yes, but there was something artificial about it. The first two especially seemed to be very specifically looking for a Jewish husband that would please their parents. I decided to look for people who were a little less rigid, and who had a little more passion. In the process, I found quite a different side of online dating…

drawing by Anna Berezina Shebrew women magazineThe woman I dated was a bit younger, and a lot more laid-back. So laid-back, she invited me to her house for our first meeting. We made small-talk for a little while, but before long one thing led to another… and we were making out in her bed. There was no pretense of a burgeoning relationship, it was clearly just a fling. Soon after, I met a young woman in law school, and again we ended up in her bed the same night we met. She seemed to be a “professional” online dater, openly admitting to numerous and frequent clandestine encounters. Another date with someone new ended this way, and then another with another. The anonymity of the internet created a strangely depraved atmosphere. I was suddenly some kind of Jewish Casanova. I developed a system, documenting names and contact information as if I were running a business.

It was fun, I cannot deny. But there was a surprisingly sleazy and sordid side to this dating site, and eventually the novelty was lost. I had signed up looking for a relationship, not a series of meaningless hookups. The promise of endless encounters with new women kept me ensnared for a while, with, but for me, the setup was too contrived to breed the emotional climate necessary for a real relationship. Ultimately, I decided to give up online dating, and instead tried being more active in regular, everyday life. I have to credit the online dating with giving me a new confidence. I became bold enough to ask out more women I met in real life. Women that I met while doing the things I enjoyed doing, and who spent time with the people I enjoyed spending time with. So I ended up back where I started, a little wiser, and a lot more experienced.

In summary, I’d have to say that online dating is a great way to keep yourself occupied and amused until you accidentally meet the right person in real life. Despite all the questionnaires and opportunities to describe yourself in words, there’s no way to detect the chemistry you can feel meeting someone in everyday, regular life. Your chances of finding something real and lasting are not much better than walking up to strangers on the street. Still, it can be fun, and who knows, maybe other people will find a little meaning with it than I did.

By David Jacobson

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