Sex In San Diego: Internet Dating and That First Date

by on April 12, 2012 · 10 comments

in Culture, Life Events, Media, Popular, San Diego, Sex in San Diego

By Veteran of First Dates

After my San Diego divorce in the early part of this century, and then after a few false-starts in dating other women, I finally set out to date with a more self-conscious awareness.

Being in my mid-fifties, it was not easy to meet people – not being a bar kind of guy -, and after exhausting friends of friends, friends of family, former girlfriends, going on one blind date, participating in one of those “quick dating” rounds at a restaurant, I came to realize that there must be better and more modern ways to meet women – and men – in this society.

And there is. It’s called internet dating.

Once I signed up on at least three or four different sites, Match.com being the most popular, and going through the necessary prerequisites for internet dating, such as displaying at least one good photo, some kind of self-deprecating introductory description of myself, and trying to figure out what kind of people I wanted to date, I was set.

Most of the dating sites – which of course cost money – have a system of “winks” where you can browse through photos and descriptions of people, and then leave them the signal that you were interested in at least going on line with them for a discussion or exchanging phone numbers.

So, that’s it. You go online at your dating site, and begin the process of both exhibiting yourself via your page – which the site sets up – no worries there (even if you’re not into the technology), and doing the browsing of those you’d like to meet and date.

However, the process of going through these individual pages can be both exhilarating and depressing.  On one hand, it is exciting to look at people, their pictures and the slices of their lives they share -  who seem great – and imagine dating them.  You figure out how far you’re willing to drive to date and start laying down those winks.

Yet after doing this numerous times and waiting for responses can be depressing, as it sinks in that many of those you “winked” at could care less about you.  Those images of you and them crumbles into cyberdust. It ain’t gonna happen, you realize.  But you keep on, you have to be optimistic. And you do get return winks, and you do begin to share phone numbers, make those calls, and actually set up and go on dates.

It is a dance – the whole process of dating on line. I experienced many of them and do I have many stories to tell.  Over the course of 5 years of dating, I went on one hundred first dates. Yes, that’s right. 100 first dates. I went on so many first dates I could write a book – or at least set up an online internet dating advice column.

One hundred first dates sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But if you spread that hundred out over 5 years, it’s not even two first dates a month.  And I’m being specific about first dates.

There’s an art and magic to first dates, there is. I should know. There all unspoken rules, there are cautionary tactics, there are red flags – and first dates and more can be quite fun and joyous too.  Don’t forget that.  Ya gotta have fun while dating – not just you – but you and your date.

Now, don’t get it wrong. I didn’t spend all those years just going on first dates – that would be strange. No, for part of that time, I would have numerous dates with the same woman, … even relationships.  I was in one relationship with a person I met via Match for over a year.  And no, I didn’t go on first dates or other dates while in that relationship.  At least I didn’t.

Despite the fun and joy … on occasion, internet dating can be very frustrating and harsh. I learned many lessons, and a good number the hard way. So, I might as well pass on some advice on the subject, since I’m so versed in it.  I’ve imagined doing a book or a column entitled: “Internet Dating for the Metro Male“. Or something like that. I actually began writing it, and if I receive some good responses here, I just might.  I have a lot of advice for women, too, for they’re the ones I dated.

So, here’s five lessons:

No. 1) You gotta have a hard shell when you’re trying to date on the internet through the various dating sites. There are many rejections – you “wink” at someone and never hear back, or you begin an online discussion, and they quit on you without a goodbye or a howdy-do. But in reality, they’re rejections from strangers who don’t actually know you – so, you can’t take it too personally.  Perhaps “shell” isn’t the right term, but you need to shore up your emotions and not get discouraged because of people who don’t wink back, who don’t acknowledge you, or in some manner or form, reject you.

No. 2) People lie on their internet dating site pages. This probably should not come as a deep surprise. But they do – both men and women dissuade you from the truth with intentional falsehoods. Like, you know, their age.  That’s a big one.  One person I ended up dating had erased ten years with a slight feint of the keyboard. From my own experience I know this, and I heard plenty of stories by women I dated about men and their cyber lies.  Just be forewarned. Don’t go into this internet dating stuff naive.

No. 3)  You gotta have a nice picture of yourself up on the dating site.  This is important, I’m telling you. If you post your intro without a photo, you will not get the attention you want or deserve. Figure out a way on this – most of the sites have an easy method to follow in posting photos – and have a focused photo with your face clearly shown.  Go ahead and throw several pics up there – not too many, however, or it will seem like you’re desperate or you don’t care about your privacy. For women: do not, repeat, do not include photos of former boyfriends – this is very obvious – and do not include photos of yourself with your girlfriends. Why? Why muddy the waters? Especially if they’re cute. Why push competition.  Many times while starring at someone’s photo, I can’t figure out who’s who. At this stage of the dating process, men won’t know you from your sisters sitting next to you. And if your faceshot is next to others without being clearly define, you’re in trouble.

No. 4)  Be realistic in terms of how far you’re willing to travel for dates.  In the beginning of the process – men especially -  you’ll probably want to date anybody this side of the Techachapi Mountains.  But that’s an awful long way to drive – unless you’re independently wealthy and can fly up there yourself.  So, place limits on your travel time and effort – say, limit  yourself to an hour’s drive from where you live.  With these days of expensive fuel, driving a hundred miles for a date is a bit much.  And once you do that, once you go that distance, you’re adding unnecessary, unfair pressures and expectations on the date itself.  Long distance relationships are difficult and very challenging, and can be expensive. And remember, if the date turns out to be good, you’ll want to continue that distance.

No. 5) Don’t get discouraged. Dating can be a serious business and takes work – like relationships. (We know the dating sites are making money.) But if you’re truly looking for a genuine, equal relationship, don’t give up easily, if at all. Lower your expectations at the beginning; try to enjoy the people you have dinner with and go to movies with; go dancing – it’s good for the soul. Dancing can really help a date, especially if both people like to dance. The process of dancing can move you both closer physically and help cut the ice.

Yes, internet dating can be very frustrating.

In my own situation, I did finally meet someone on the internet – not on a dating site per se, but on a “rant” site.  She made a reply to a rant of exasperation about dating, in fact, sent out to cyberspace aimed at no one in particular.  Out of the blue, this person reaches across the keyboard and entered my world. I was so impressed, I asked her out. She accepted. That was nearly five years ago, as we’ve been together since our very first date.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Mercy April 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm

From a female perspective, this is all pretty right on. Judi Curry covered a lot of this in an article here on The Rag within in the past couple of months. Albeit, she’s been at it a much shorter time then you or I.

I’m also a veteran of online dating sites…but much longer then you did it. Off and on, about 15 yrs. I haven’t been on many first dates, no less a relationship from an online site. There just didn’t seem to be many quality men out there, and believe me, I lowered my expectations several times, with no success there either.

The one relationship I’ve had over the years was someone I met through friends. Unfortunately, with me in Los Angeles at the time, and him in London, it was difficult at best. The distance is what killed it ultimately. Now, I want someone to live within 30 miles of OB. I want to be able to say, hey, want to come over and watch a DVD or grab a quick meal together…and be able to be at each other’s place in 15 minutes. So, I totally agree about the distance thing.

As far as the photo thing goes. I can NOT believe how many men post pics of themselves with either sunglasses, and/or a hat on! I don’t know many women that would do that. I want to see your eyes please! Hair or no hair, we’re going to find out when we meet whether you have some or not, so take that damn hat off…geez. I would say 90% of men do not show us their whole body. I’m sure women try to hide that too. Thin or fat, there is someone out there for everybody, so, we want to see your body!

I’ve learned not to spend too much time messaging back and forth online. If you do too much, and the meet in person doesn’t go well…time wasted. A few emails, then see if a phone convo goes well, and if so, then meet in person for a coffee/tea. Not alcohol, not a full meal, no dancing (and I do love dancing!), no movie (you can’t talk and get to know each other) just a short and hopefully sweet meet. If it goes better then expected, then you can make it go longer. Hopefully, this can all happen within a week. I don’t care how good someone seems online, there ain’t nothing like checking them out in person. Do NOT waste too much time before meeting is the immediate goal.

The most recent time I didn’t follow this was just a few months ago..when will I learn?! Great messaging, too many fantastic phone calls. Two weeks later, we meet. He orders a bottle of champagne (Uh oh!) with some appetizers. I politely (hand covering mouth) burp from the bubbly, apologize, and he gets upset that I had the nerve to burp in front of him! What?! Whatever!! I lowered my expectations (again!) and met him a week later. He then proceeded to tear me a new one when I mentioned I liked to watch TV! Control freak! NEXT!

I really could go on and on, but you get the idea. I’ve also thought about writing a column or at least a blog about it. But found out there are SO many out there doing that already. And I met a woman online that wrote a book about it all a few years ago, she covered most of this already. But the angle from a man’s viewpoint might be cool.

Again, doesn’t seem to be much difference from what men and women go through. Discouraged? Ummm….yeah, I guess I am. But I never seem to totally give up hope though.

There is someone right now, been on 4 dates, it’s the most promising one I’ve had in many, many moons. Where did I meet him? Not online! Well, he passed me a year and a half ago on the streets here in OB, was a fan of my entertainment career, but was coming off a bad marriage, and wasn’t ready to make contact. He knew he could find my email addy online, but not from a dating web site. He emailed me a few weeks ago, and was very sweet and we have just clicked. I’m hopeful, we’ll see.

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avatar Anna Daniels April 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I feel like a (old) sociologist reading this post and your ( always wonderful) comments, OB Mercy. The thought of online dating frankly terrifies me in a Woody Allen nebbish kind of way. (& I am not easily terrified.)

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avatar OB Mercy April 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

The Rag never sent me your response to my comment. Thanks for the compliment Anna. I’m still thinking of starting a blog……

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avatar editordude April 13, 2012 at 8:08 am

Despite the lack of many comments, this post has over 500 hits as of 9am Friday the 13th. The author did ask for feedback, so please, don’t feel shy.

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avatar judi Curry April 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

It is interesting to read about online dating from a man’s perspective, because as OB Mercy said, the experiences are not much different, regardless of the sex of the person. EXCEPT – I wonder how many of the women the author met wanted to jump in the sack after the first sip of cheap, house wine? My last article said I was finished with my research about on-line dating. I lied. Since I still had many weeks left on my subscriptions (there is no refund), I have continued to place myself in a position where rejection is dominant; where I could have a harem of men under the age of 30; and the “first dates” are scarce.

A week or so ago I thought I had hit BINGO! I was “winked” – cute name for wanting to find out more about you – by a very well known physician in San Diego. (He said he was well known; I checked it out and Google did in fact have positive things to say about him.) We met in a very public place and before I knew it he had his arm around me and a lip-lock cemented to my face. It should be said that this guy was not a youngster – in fact – he is in his 80′s!!!! He wanted to know when we could meet again “for more cuddling and…..” Unfortunately this is not the first experience I have had with the same results.

I have come to believe that on-line dating is merely a fancier name for “sleeping around.” I have written on my profile that “I have already raised my children. If you are younger than my youngest child – 48 – please don’t waste my time – or yours.” At last count I have had 41 young – and I do mean young – boys hit on me.
Sometimes, when I am in a playful mood, I write back and ask them what they would want with a great-grandmother 45 years older then them. And…they write back saying that ” . . . . with my ‘experiences’ maybe I could teach them something.
(I don’t think that they mean academia!)

I can relate to “Veteran” – but I still think that online dating is in the man’s domain. He is usually the one that makes the move to meet; he is the one that controls the situation. And, optimist that I am – don’t gag on that – I am STILL hoping that the right “click” with happen.

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avatar judi Curry April 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

oops – will happen.

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avatar OB Mercy April 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

Nail on the head Judi. I’ve been convinced for a very long time that 99% of the men on dating sites ARE just looking to get laid. Nothing wrong with that, but honesty up front on a profile would be much appreciated, but ain’t gonna happen. I too get hit on by mostly much younger men, flattering, but nonetheless, not good for anything serious. Hope is my middle name!

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avatar Frank Gormlie April 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

Now, now, he said. “99%” OB Mercy? I think not. For all genders involved, honesty is a rare commodity.

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avatar OB Mercy April 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

Touche Frank!

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avatar Kim April 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm

So true..what has happened to you, happens all the time. Online dating is a unique experience for each person and yet their stories are so simillar. This is the reason I created DatingAccessory.com, to help take advantage of every opportunity to connect, even in the most inconvenient of circumstances and while going about your day. Best wishes to all…

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