I began "dating" again seven weeks ago. Here's an update:
After taking a break from on-line dating, I decided to give it another try. I'm skeptical about its effectiveness (if it works so well, why are the same hot guys still looking month after month and year after year?), so my plan has been to spend no more than 60 days on any one site. The idea is to jump around and always be new somewhere.
I decided to start with Compatible Partners, E-Harmony's gay website. I chose them because about 18 months ago I answered their 12,000 matching questions (slight exaggeration) and posted an empty profile. The matches they sent at the time looked promising. My experience this time has been entirely different. Whereas Compatible Partners was relatively new and flush with customers a year and a half ago, now hardly anyone uses it.
Over the past seven weeks CP has sent me a total of 33 matches. That's nothing compared to the 1000+ local users who are on Match, Adam4Adam, Manhunt or OKCupid. At first I thought I wasn't getting many matches because my criteria were too tight. Well, I have continuously broadened them and I'm still not getting many matches. I'm at the point where I can't be any more open than I already am. All I'm getting are occasional "flex matches" for any guy, 18-100, who can fog a mirror.
The volume of matches wouldn't be a problem if just a few of them were promising. Well, they've been horrible. I mean really horrible. I seriously wonder if some of them are homeless. They look like they might be.
It took me about two weeks to figure out that Compatible Partners is a waste of time and money. Around that same time, a new guy showed up on Match who really caught my interest. Honestly, it was the first time I had ever read a profile and felt like the guy was talking about ME. I was pretty excited about him. Even better was the fact that he lived and worked in a rural area about 45 minutes outside of the City - no homo competition. And best of all, at least in terms of securing a first date, he was slightly older than me (everyone wants to date someone younger than they are) and he was pretty plain looking. Not unattractive, just average.
Because he was new on Match, I knew he was going to get some hits the first week. So I waited two weeks. Then, after debating whether I should commit to Match for 6 months or go for a one week trial, I took the trial. I loaded my pictures, completed a short profile and sent the guy a short, friendly email. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. The fucker ignored me.
Apparently I'm not even worth a polite rejection from a plain, bald, older "nice guy" who lives in Backwater, USA? Damn that hurts. Of all the outcomes I anticipated, that was not one of them.
After that disappointment, I scraped what was left of my ego from the floor and winked at (how gay, I know) two other guys. Ignored x 2. You might think I was trying to lure some Taylor Lautner lookalikes into my bed, but trust me, that was not the case. I don't bother reaching. In fact, I'm now so insecure about my desirability that I'd much prefer to be the better looking guy.
My Match profile was never marked as "new" so that sucked but in the week that it was up I got four winks and two emails. The best of the lot (and I'm not talking about looks, I'm talking about the overall quality of the match) was a 52yo who lived an hour away. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and I thought about responding positively to his wink, but I didn't. I just wasn't that attracted to him and he lived too far away. Instead I replied to him, and the five others who contacted me, and said that I was pulling my profile because I wasn't ready to date.
Off the 'net Chet has been trying to help me. He really wanted me to meet this fitness coach, a friend-of-a-friend, who "might" be bi. The guy is 47 and has a girlfriend but he's "curious about exploring" with men for the first time. "Plus he's a super nice guy!" I told Chet that I wasn't up for being someone's training wheels, no matter how hot he might be.
Chet also told me about a suburban dad he had met at an LGBT business mixer a few months back. He's divorced, nice looking, two teenage girls, lives less than two miles from me. I assume the guy has a boyfriend, fuck buddy or whatever, but I thought he would be someone good to meet. Who knows who he might know? So I sent him an email, with two pictures, and I told him the basics of my situation. I also told him that I was looking to network for gay friends. Guess what happened with him? The fucker ignored me.
Is anyone else detecting a pattern here?
A good friend has advised me not take my serial rejections personally. He says he gets ignored all the time (yet, let me tell you, he is getting SOME!!!) and that on-line dating is a numbers game. Instead of focusing on one or two guys, he says I need to hit on 10-15 guys a week and not care whether I hear back from any of them. I think his advice is sound, and I might eventually be able to do that, but right now, I can't risk mass rejection. I need to gain some confidence first.
If I count the month or so I tried to date in the Spring and add that to my current seven week total, I've been "dating" for 11 weeks and in all that time I've been on ONE date, nine months ago. And that wasn't even a real date. He was a teacher and all we talked about was education reform and how much he hates Michelle Rhee (former DC School Superintendent). Seriously, it was like I was at a school conference for one of my kids. It was about as undatelike as anything I could have imagined.
A few weeks ago, on this blog, I posted a picture of myself wearing a pair of mid-thigh swim trunks. I asked for your opinions about how they looked because my 17yo called them "kind of gay." Not one person who commented agreed with what my kid said. Somewhat reassured, I used that same picture on CP and Match. It was also one of the two pictures I sent the divorced guy with kids. Given that I've been 100% ignored, I'm wondering if using that picture was a mistake. I think my kid was right, the trunks are gay.
The importance of appearing as masculine as possible in every profile picture never really occurred to me. But now that I am paying attention, I've realized how essential it is.
I will be moving to a new dating site soon, but because the first week that you're "new" on any site is crucial, I'm going to wait until January to do so. In the meantime, I've been thinking about fooling around with Grindr. I'm absolutely, positively not looking for hook-ups so choosing Grindr might seem pointless, but I'm thinking of using it to experiment with marketing myself. Mostly I'd like to know, based solely on different pictures, what kind of men I attract. If any.
It's true that blaming my poor results on one picture could be a case of wishful thinking, and maybe using different pictures would be no better than putting different tattoos on a pig's bicep (he's still a pig) but, at this point, I'd prefer to be delusional and positive than realistic and negative.
On that happy note, wish me luck. I need it.