That Time I Told eHarmony to Shove It (Part 1)

lowexpectations

Before we begin, you should know that I’ve been sitting on this post for years. Every time I try to write about dating, it turns into a rant about online dating, which I delete and try to forget about. This week I realized it’s not going to leave me alone until I let it loose. I talk a big talk about daring greatly and writing my truths, and it’s time to walk the walk.

Most single adults in America have been hassled to try online dating. For some reason, coupled people of all ages see it as the only plausible way for their loved ones to find romantic partners. You can tell these people a hundred online dating horror stories, but they’ll shrug them all off because their friend’s co-worker met her husband that way. They don’t care about your reasoned, thoughtful, personal objections. Online dating is the answer. It will provide your perfect match, reverse global warming, and cure cancer. It is the fairy godmother of your nonexistent love life, and if you choose not to partake of its magic, you have only yourself to blame.

I signed up for eHarmony in the summer of 2012. I had been divorced for two years and, unlike every other divorced person I knew, still hadn’t dated at all. Nor did I have any single male presence in my life. I just wanted to learn to interact with men again, to see some hope, and it wasn’t happening naturally. So, with trepidation and a little shame, I filled out my first ever online dating profile for the shortest allowable term: three months. I limited my radius to about a three-hour drive, because this was going to be tough enough without the added complications of long distance with a total stranger. Even so, I wasn’t expecting perfection, or to find my soul mate. I just wanted to feel excited about getting to know someone, and hopeful that I could someday have a good relationship. I was willing to try.

Well, most of my local matches’ profiles featured bicep-flexing bathroom-mirror selfies, or posing next to dead deer or fish, accompanied by a few fragmented, misspelled sentences. Still, admonished by others to give people a chance and not make “shallow judgments,” I went through the lengthy, automated getting-to-know-you process again and again. The results were all flavors of weird and uncomfortable. One match stated in his profile that God had placed a very important calling on his life and whomever he was with would have to be on board. I asked him to tell me more about this calling, imagining missions in the Congo or something. It was to create a Christian video game. Then he offered to tell me about the New World Order and the approaching end times, of which he had special revelation. (Months later, I found out that a friend was also matched with this guy and actually went on a date with him.)

Many other matches self-importantly stressed their requirements for a “Proverbs 31 woman” and/or a “helpmeet” to support their endeavors. DELETED!

So it’s no wonder that, even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I caved to eHarmony’s aggressive “suggestions” to expand my radius. I had some okay e-mail conversations with faraway men, but nothing outstanding. Eventually, I was only talking to one guy, who lived in Florida. We started talking on the phone. Then he wanted to visit, and got annoyed that I wasn’t available right away. He was nice, but the whole time, I felt unbelievable pressure to develop feelings that just weren’t there. Like I owed it to him, people in my life, even eHarmony itself to go along with it regardless of my hesitations. After about six weeks, stressed out and unhappy, I broke it off. I had confirmed that a manufactured relationship with a total stranger, especially long-distance, wasn’t something I could do.

My online dating experience resulted in zero actual dates, and I ended up worse off emotionally and relationally than when I started. To add insult to injury, I forgot to actively cancel my account and ended up with three more months when I just wanted to be free of the whole thing. I mostly ignored my profile from then on and deleted it as soon as the term was up.

It’s been two years, and sometimes I think about trying again with a different dating service. But honestly, I think it would still be miserable for me. Like it or not, I am a quality-over-quantity girl. I’d rather keep holding out for a real live man, an organic connection, than waste time and energy looking for a mate in a vacuum. If that makes me narrow-minded, or too picky, or not submissive to God’s leading, well, I guess that’s what I am. But even if I die alone, I will do so at peace with myself.

I’ll get into some generalized concerns and complaints about online dating in Part 2. But it felt right to tell my story first.

PS: I’m not against meeting someone online “in the wild.” In that case, something drew you to one another as people, in a context free of instant expectations.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister’s iced tea.

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32 Responses to That Time I Told eHarmony to Shove It (Part 1)

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh girl. Online dating sucks.

    After getting away from a really emotionally abusive relationship, I decided to try match.com. Among other things, I just really wanted a distraction from my previous situation; something to keep me from wanting to go back. (SO many things wrong with that whole thought, but oh well, you live-you learn.)

    I went on one actual date, and it went surprisingly well… Until we left and the guy followed me to where I was meeting a girlfriend for drinks after. *creep alert* It definitely served its’ purpose of being a distraction, but not because I found a man – it was solely entertainment value. I never would have imagined how many lonely truckers there are in this area, how many men will stress how “Christian” they are, only to be total sleazeballs (wrong on so many levels), or how many times I could open up my “matches” and play the “Where did this guy hide the body?” game. I know everybody needs somebody, but I had to give up on trying to find somebody online. I needed someone to actually be in my face, carrying a real conversation. Any moron can get behind a keyboard and pretend to be a good guy.

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m glad you shared your story. Lance and I met on eHarmony, so obviously our experiences were vastly different than yours and had a very happy ending. I hope everyone who forcefully suggests to single friends that they should try online dating could read more honest, not-so-great versions like yours to know that it’s not for everybody, even with their good intentions. Good for you for not doing what doesn’t feel right. I’m sure God has your happy ending out there somewhere — it just obviously won’t be vetted by Neil Clark Warren :)

    • Brenda W. says:

      Hey, thanks for this! It means a lot to get support from people who DID have a good experience. Or, as I call my BFF who found her boyfriend after 2 days on Christian Mingle, “Results not typical.” :)

  3. Jamie Wright Bagley says:

    Wow, what an experience! The whole concept terrifies me and I think you were brave to attempt it and also brave to post your analysis. Oh, and you are allowed to be as picky as you need to be. I hate, hate, hate it when people make that implication, (i.e. there must be something “wrong” with YOU. uhhh, just nope.) You are an amazing person and no one should think they can ascertain God’s leading in your life better than you. Disregard the lies and stay true to your God-given intuition and desires. Thank you for telling your story.

  4. Jenn says:

    Internet dudes can be the worst. I always felt like EH felt like a job interview.

  5. I’m convinced that if there’s someone out there for me, I’m not going to find him online. But, I still find myself occasionally trying it out, just in case. Ugh.

  6. Carol says:

    I think it’s good you got this story out there. While I know there are people who find love online, I really think you have to be careful. When Jon and I went to SC, there was a woman on NPR talking about how she made this profile on a dating website, then poked around on the profiles to brand herself (really, there’s not a better word) to make herself as popular as possible. She had an impossibly long list, but she found her guy. I thought the way she went about it, though, was kind of sleezy.

  7. Gina says:

    Fragmented sentences, kooky theology, pressure . . . I think we’ve been matched with some of the same guys!! Ugh! Thanks for this. :-) I haven’t sworn off online dating yet, but it can be really, REALLY yucky, and I appreciate your honesty about that.

  8. thebeccaoh says:

    I love this post! I have definitely heard both sides of online dating, and while I know many people have benefited from it, it is NOT the only option, and we married people need to stop acting like it is (especially in a “last resort” kind of way…there is no “last resort” in dating!). I’m so glad you’re writing about this, and I imagine many, many singles are nodding their heads. I know I’m nodding mine. Great job, as usual. Love you. <3

    • Brenda W. says:

      :) Thank you! Yeah, the last resort thing really bothers me too. It made it even worse to feel like I’d played my trump card and gotten terrible results and now that’s it.

  9. Maria says:

    I’m on the fence regarding online dating. I have not one but two couples who met that way in my close circle of friends (aka “the gang”), but on the other hand, I also have a very close friend whose online dating experiences are pretty much identical to yours.

    I guess it’s one of those things where a select few get lucky.

  10. reilert79 says:

    What an awful thing to deal with! I had a friend who did E-harmony and the guy she met on there ended up stalking her for a year. She found him in her backyard one morning- not kidding. She also went on singlesnet.com and met this guy and they hit it off right away, and after about 2 months of dating, she received a text message from him that said he wanted her to know that he had been charged with…….attempted murder! He was telling her that he thought it would be resolved positively, but wanted her to know in case he had to “go away to get his affairs in order” for a bit. Seriously. We decided that singlesnet.com was for people who aren’t shady enough for Craigslist dating, and E-harmony was for those who are shady but have money in their pockets. Glad you got out of it unscathed for the most part.

  11. Sarah says:

    Online dating is so stressful, and way too stressful for me. I probably have more to say but…

  12. Great post, Brenda! Like others have said, there are plenty of people who have found love through online dating, but for every couple that met that way, how many thousands of people have had awful experiences like yours?

  13. Meredith says:

    So glad you shared! I tried it as well, for 3 months, and it ended up being something that my friends and I laughed at more than anything. I mean, the things people put out there blows my mind. I on the face to face side ;).

  14. Katrina says:

    I appreciate your honesty. I’ve never signed up for the online thing. Just can’t quite stomach it. So frustrating though, when there are more voices telling you that they met their spouse online, and basically saying that’s the only way it could ever happen for you, than there are saying that God lives outside that box, and He can bring someone around in another way, in His timing. Not to say that online dating is wrong, or bad. But I think we are all created differently, and what is good and works for one doesn’t mean it’s good and works for all.

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  16. sillypilgrim says:

    I wanted to read this before reading the post you just posted. OH GIRL. I hear this. I tried it for one day and that was too much.

    I love this line, “But even if I die alone, I will do so at peace with myself.” Amen!!

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