Recently though I thought I'd try a different route, due to the lack of the last option failing miserably at pairing me up. A route that offers me both beauty sleep and a fully fluffed out dating diary. Does such a thing exist? It does indeed, and goes by the name of ‘dating websites’. From the comfort of my couch and slouchy clothes, I can review image after image of eligible singletons living near me. Horray!
On my quest I decided to take the plunge with the mass-market, and sign up to the site that apparently get people married for gods sake; eHarmony. If you've missed the ads, the site uses a unique ‘compatibility matching system’ to find you you’re best match. And I'm promised that after a short questionnaire I get a free peek at what my potentially life-long partner looks like - for free! A decent evening in if you ask me!
As a new (and somewhat apprehensive) user, you are greeted with a relationship survey. But, in search of my true love, what’s a short quick questionnaire? I waste hours trawling through social networking sites in a mindless ‘status reading’ stupor, so sparing 15 minutes to answer some multi-choice questions on my life will be easy, right? Wrong.
Don’t believe for one moment that you’re let off lightly with a quick “age, sex, salary, preferences” of questions then ‘Ta-Da’ you’re true love revealed. I was optimistic with 15 minutes…we’re talking more like an hour for this 'comprehensive' (read painful) questionnaire. When I say comprehensive, I mean ‘delving into the inner part of your soul’ probing lengthy questions. It’s so thorough I’m surprised they’ve not questioned my bra size or how I like my steak.
Next, I’m asked to declare “Yes actually, I do think I’m sexy” as if my bias opinion aids the search. How am I supposed to know? I’m only sexy and attractive if others believe me to be so. So what do I do? Blow my own trumpet or modestly under-rate myself? Tough call I say.
Up next is the religious section (I'm atheist all the way) and I’m totally lost. I don’t actually care if he’s Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist or started his own religion. And on top of that I’m flooded by “Do you care about their personal values, hygiene, religious beliefs, sexual preferences and their levels of kindness?” Well yes, I am bothered if he refuses to wash every damn day. But on the other hand, I’ll be flexible if I find he doesn’t know #49 of the Karma Sutra. As long as positions #1 – #10 are mastered, it’s a yes from me.
To believe we’re done here is optimistic. I’m half-way through, refusing to give up because I’ve come so far, but at the same time working out how to avoid another questionnaire for the rest of my life. The ‘self-description and important qualities’ questions begin, including “are you always angry, are you a leader, do you get upset easily, do you like to socialize, how many times in the last month have you been depressed". Honestly, I don't know what they are expecting me to say. It's not as if I’m going to proclaim ‘Hi potential lover, I was depressed for three months, cried a lot, then got happier and mastered the art of controlling my anger...so we’re good to go!”
Personal interests and hobbies was a delightful section (after grabbing a fresh cup of coffee...I think I’m going to need it) answered on a scale of 1 – 7, 1 being rarely and 7 being always (I rated them all 3). My favourite was being asked for my view on board games. Now of course, I can entertain a decent game of chess, but if you’re suggesting I spend my weekends at the summer house engrossed in Cribbage and Ludo, you’re much mistaken.
Finally it’s the alcoholic drink/smoke question, which is always a toughie because if you do smoke (and for me its daily but currently embracing the patches and giving up *round of applause*), you need a partner with similar lifestyle because otherwise they’ll be turned off before the wrapper on a new pack has been undone. And just a side-note, if you’re thinking about answering the alcoholic drink question with ‘many times a day’ – you’re on the wrong site and should try googling ‘AA’.
With that though - you're done. And wow - an examination worthy of my old Grammar School just to sign up to a website. But I'm happy and I’m confident that I spent the time wisely, ensuring I am honest and deliver appropriate answers. And so, while the magic computer processes my responses, I eagerly await the next screen which is going to display photographs of my personally tailored perfect matches. My mind starts running away with ideas. Will he emulate the chiseled features and chilled out vibe of Johnny Depp? Or perhaps he’ll have a firm masculine look with a formal dress style? But just as my imagination is entering the home straight with rapturous applause , I looked back to my screen to see this:
“We’re very sorry, but our matching system cannot predict good matches for you”
WHAT!!!! As if the particularly bold font they used wasn’t quite prominent enough to convey my failings, eHarmony then proceeded in three fairly chunky paragraphs to explain exactly why it appears I am incompatible with anyone on their world-wide acclaimed dating site. Apparently, based on my responses to the questionnaire, their matching system was unable to identify ‘high quality compatible matches’. They then go on to stress that this is no reflection upon me and that I shouldn't take it personally. It is more a result of their specific matching process.
As you can imagine, despite this - I did take it personally. And began wondering what it is about my personality that makes me so ‘un-dateable’. You’ve got to be a special kind of person to get turned away from a dating website that needs your subscription fees to keep running. Therefore, I convince myself, it can only be a reflection on me as a person and the answers I gave. But don’t worry, they do finish off in a lovely condescending manner:
“We wish you all the best in your search for that special someone”
They might as well have said “Good luck with spinsterhood and enjoy owning a load of cats you un-dateable fiendish creature.” In what I know is a massively defensive response, I would like to pose this question: how are we really supposed to know who our soul mate is meant to be? A check-list of parallel attributes and similar interests does not lend itself to a decent long lasting relationship. In fact, many have found it really is true opposites that work in harmony together. In which case, isn’t this hour long compatibility soul-destroying questionnaire an absolute waste of time?
And on a more personal note, I will whole-heartedly claim that dating websites definitely don’t work, especially if they refuse to even let you past the first ‘sign-up’ hurdle. However, on the assumption I am a lone rider with this respect, many have successfully utilized this dating forum to transfer love from 2D to the 3D way. I guess the only way to find out if they actually work, is to sample their delights first hand. For me, it’s back to swapping nights in and the required sleep for a ‘bar-hopping & true-love’ nightly search instead. Wish me luck.