Match Points

Ten lessons I learned from a month of Internet dating.

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I went on Match dot com not to find someone but to rid myself of silly romantic illusions. It worked exquisitely.

Remember last year when that film clip was making the rounds of the Internet, the one about a black man taking his white girlfriend to his ex-wife's house and then sticking around to deliver some diatribe to her and her neck-rolling friends about how hard, angry and bitter (not to mention money-grubbing) black women had become, so no wonder all the brothers were going white? The little clip had a lot of sisters way up in arms, but it just made me laugh, so ridiculous and far removed from the truth did I find it. The whole myth of the super-hardened black woman I simply do not understand.

Oh sure, I know some sisters who play it off well. They talk tough about not wanting to be bothered with some trifling whatever, about having "hand" in the relationship, about kicking his sorry ass to the curb for this or that but trust me – it's all a front. These same women call me at midnight, heartbroken because he's wandered off. Or call me at noon giddy and girlish over having finally met "The One" though we both know there is no such ridiculous thing.

I know black women who have met and married, in a matter of months, 50-year-old babies with debt up to their eyeballs and the audacity to demand she give up a hard-built career to be home in time each evening to put some hamburgers on a plate. I know black women who defend men who tell them, in loving moments, that their butt is too saggy or their breasts too small or their hair too short. I know black women who get off the turnpike at the wrong exit every day for a week, trying to catch up with some sweet-talking operator who once smiled their way.

I know these women–not that I'm among them, mind you–and they are anything but hardened harpies, anything but black widow spiders casually wrapping up their males for a tasty snack. What they are, really, is a bunch of starry-eyed romantics. What they are is a bunch of saps, suckers with their hearts on their bell sleeves and what they need is not softening but toughening up! Vulnerability be damned!

Okay – maybe they don't need toughening. No one needs to harden her heart any more than the world naturally will, but I do know some black women who could stand to become more, shall we say, discerning. It would certainly save them some heartbreak. Not that I'm among them or anything.

And so, in service to my sisters, in an effort to devise the most efficient Course Toward Discernment to offer them, I joined Match. I would treat it like a science experiment: hold some variables constant while changing others, take notes, remain objective and unemotional.

Done properly Match.com is like an entire decade's worth of dating experience shoved into a few, short months. If you married early, if you settled down at a tender age and now find yourself out in the dating world, Match is definitely for you. You can race through the seven stages of romance — giddiness, companionship, creeping boredom, disillusionment, anger, breakup, chocolate cake – in the space of a week, all without having to leave your house or shave your legs.

Lesson One: Let Them Come To You.

I post my profile – short and simple – toss up a picture and forget about it, having decided not to care too much or knock myself out. Within minutes of posting, though I receive what Match calls a "Wink" from some guy whose member name is something like Totallyawesomedude.

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