My life as an online dater

My event-marketing-guru-pal Gretchen called me up a couple months ago and asked if I’d be game to talk about online dating for an article in a magazine her company owns.

Sure, why not?

Somehow I just can’t keep anything about myself quiet. I get some sort of weird rush from having people know things–and true things about me, at that. So far I’m doing poorly at my New Year’s resolution to “be more mysterious…reveal less about myself” (especially with guys on the first through fifth dates.) In all honesty, my resolutions have already gone out the door, exactly 20 days since I made them. (Hey, at least I tried for a while, right?)

So Amber, the magazine editor, called me for a chat. And here’s what came out of that chat this week in UR Magazine:

Other Chicagoans aren’t necessarily looking for marriage, just casual dating that could perhaps lead to something more long-term. Maria, a 24-year-old administrative assistant, and Lori, a 32-year-old in advertising, both use Match.com exclusively. Sick of meeting people in bars and clubs, Maria wanted to have more control, and she says that online dating allows her to decide what aspects of her personality to put out there, to search for guys with the same interests and, most importantly, to say no. Maria had only been in one serious relationship and hadn’t really dated before going online, so she saw Match.com as an opportunity to figure out who she was and what she was looking for. “You learn a lot about yourself,” she says.

Lori, on the other hand, is a four-year veteran of online dating. She’s tried eHarmony.com, which she describes as consisting of “older guys whose mothers make them register.” While Tom and Victoria liked the slowness of the site’s process, Lori says it’s easier to figure out on her own which men she wants to date. “That’s the fun part of dating,” she says.

Lori and Maria each use different strategies in online dating. Lori prefers to make initial contact, usually through a wink, and has even resorted to hiding her profile because she was sick of “45-year-old men from New Jersey” contacting her. Now she’s posting it again since men are more likely to respond if they can see her profile right away. While Maria will e-mail someone for three weeks before meeting in person and always talks on the phone first, Lori figures the sooner the better, often setting up a date within one week.

Neither women will consider someone who lives outside the city — there are already enough men within close proximity to choose from. Lori once let herself be talked into spending a full day at Ravinia with a guy from Elgin and will never make that mistake again. “He had a car with no air-conditioning and didn’t talk at all during dinner,” she says. Which leads to the most common piece of advice from online daters: Never let a first date last more than one hour. “Always have an out,” Lori says. “If it’s good, you can see each other again.”

Maria is currently taking a break from Match.com — she’d been getting 30 e-mails a day and didn’t have time to answer them. Plus, she didn’t want to pay the fee. Lori participates in spurts: she’ll contact a few men and see where it goes, then lose interest after about three weeks and not log on again for three months. But both women encourage others to register at an online dating site. “It’s a fabulous idea as long as you’re smart about it,” Maria says. Lori says one of the biggest pros is that she has downloaded tons of music onto her computer recommended by guys she’s dated. One even taught her how to text message. “Ideally you can learn something from everyone you go out with,” she says.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jennifer said,

    Lori is cool!

  2. 2

    Heidi said,

    Please, please, please enable RSS!

    I’m so excited to read. Maybe now I can keep up with you.

  3. 3

    Stacy said,

    I have missed you! But it sounds like youre’ still the same old, yet fabulous Lori. I’m so excited you’ve decided to blog. I can’t wait to read all about your fabulous trips, dating life, etc!

  4. 4

    gretchen said,

    Yeah Lori! I’m glad you did it!! Your officially published in more than one place
    all in one week span. Can’t wait to read more!! I think you should have a column
    on UR magazine. Maybe you and Jenn can team up–I would love it and
    I’m sure everyone else would too!


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