Match Points

Ten lessons I learned from a month of Internet dating.

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Lessons Two and Three: Judge A Book By Its Title and Pay No Attention to Winks.

I cannot take Totallyawesomedude seriously and so delete him. Moreover, if a man cannot bestir himself to send a short email it is not a good sign. Some sociologist should really study this wink phenomena; I receive dozens of these things over my time on Match, some from men as far away as Texas, California and even England. Do other women respond to these things? Do they send them themselves? Are these men serious, or just playing some kind of game? Are they like kids in a candy store, unable to keep themselves from fingering all the Snickers and Baby Ruths though they know damn well they haven't got the cash to buy?

Toward the end of Day One I receive a very nice email from a white man who says he knows he's too old for me but just wanted to send along his compliments. I check his profile; he is, indeed, too old, and also probably too white. Although I have checked "any" in the ethnicity requirements just to see what would kind of fish would swim into the net I am mostly interested in meeting/learning to discern black men. But having already written about this subject (see, New York Times, September 2007, hysterical reaction of readers toward) I won't belabor the point.

I send the guy a nice thanks-but-no-thanks email and go back to my life. A few more winks over the next few days but no emails, and so finally, out of boredom, I actually open one of the winks and check the profile.

Lesson Four: Hide Your Own Profile Before Looking At Others.

This is because Match, for some dastardly reason, shows you who's peeked at your profile. Why would you want to see who has looked, and then rejected, you? Why would you want to leave a similar trail?

At any rate, this guy who winked looks vaguely interesting (although white) so I hide my profile then check his out. It begins, "I'm a vegetarian, I don't watch TV and I don't smoke."

People who go around bragging about not watching television (or not letting their children watch) always make me want to break out into the American Idol theme song, which I don't even know but which I want to learn for that purpose if nothing else. And if this guy's holier-than-thou declaration was not enough I see that he is 45 and has never been married.

Lesson Five: Consider Only The Widowed or Divorced.

Naturally this lesson applies only to women of a certain age, looking for men of a certain age. I have yet to meet a man – black, white or brown – over the age of forty who has never been married who is not broken in some serious and probably unfixable way. [Send your howling cards and letters here.] I don't mean damaged; we're all damaged: scratched up here, dented there, lumpy where the patch was made. No, I mean broken – or possibly just mal-manufactured on the assembly line. Egg or chicken, chicken or egg, it all amounts to the same.