Christian Mingle

A little over a year ago, a friend of mine met someone special online.  She was absolutely giddy over her new romance.  They were engaged two months later.  As it turned out, she met him on Christian Mingle.

I had seen the commercials with couples blissfully recanting how they met online.  Even better, they knew ahead of time that they were equally yoked.  Because, well, they were Christian.  I had already sworn off online dating.  But online dating in the name of the lord was different, right?

Immediately I took a liking to Christian Mingle.  They closely monitored profile essays and photo submissions for appropriateness.  Some find that level of scrutiny stifling and overbearing. I liked it.  Being a Catholic schoolgirl, I could appreciate over-the-top structure (not while I was there, of course). 

A few weeks in, I noticed a category that I had not seen on other dating sites.  Users could display their preferences for the ethnicity of their ideal mate.  How DARE THEY call themselves a Christian website while promoting division amongst people who SHOULD be unified in their love for Christ.  My bible thumping finger might have been a little rusty, but that didn't seem right.  With race relations escalating all over the country, I am seeing many of my peers denouncing Christianity because of claims that it was used as an aid to oppress us for many years.  Could it be???

On the other hand, I saw the silver lining in their ignorance.  These guys were putting their prejudice on front street.  Seeing it out in the open like that prevented me from wasting my time.  Even so, it still disturbed me.

I needed to do some deep soul searching.  And searching of the soul I did.  Pain and confusion consumed me as I considered the possibility that the religion I grew up believing in wasn't meant for me at all.  It didn't help that I came across a forum where a "christian" woman was concerned that her daughter wanted to marry an "ethnic".  REALLY LADY??? What the hell is an ethnic?  Anyway, the commenters were just as stupid as she was.  One even suggesting that she forbid it because he knew of ethnics who preyed on young white women for the purpose of impregnating them and making light babies and if the babies' features weren't caucasian enough, they would beat the woman.  I couldn't. I can't. I won't.

As discouraging as the experience was, I came to a solid conclusion about my faith.  For all intents and purposes, the bible does not state any one race is above others.  In fact, Jesus teaches people to exercise love and kindness to all. Period.  I also recognized that with any religion, you have folks who will twist the teachings to fit their own selfish beliefs (jihad ring a bell).

I stopped using Christian Mingle after about a month, but had purchased a six month subscription (I was going to find my husband...okay).  When the subscription period ended, I contacted them via phone to cancel, and provide some feedback hoping they would take heed to what I had to say.  Unfortunately the woman who answered the phone had the personality of an overworked DMV clerk, and couldn't have cared less about my opinion. 

In the end, it all worked out the way it was supposed to.  Those weren't the kind of Christians I wanted to mingle with anyway.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea...

Yet none of them were for me!

Ahhh, Plenty of Fish (POF).  Many a laugh begins with just a mention of its name.  One lesson that using this site taught me was free is NOT always better.

Remember Taylor?  No?  Click his name to find out more.  He was only one of many that I met on POF.  Another memorable story was my bff's ex-boyfriend hitting on me.  Initially she and I thought he didn't remember me, and once we gently reminded him he would back off.  Wrong!  To add insult to injury, his brother also attempted to court me.  While I try not to make a habit of pinning doucebaggery on a whole clan of people, I couldn't help but imagine a few awkward holiday dinners in our future.  So I passed.

Pervs.  I cannot mention POF without giving pervs the honorable mention they deserve.  There were lots of them. LOTS.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone can solicit sex from a total stranger online.  It shouldn't surprise me.  People have been soliciting sex from strangers since the beginning of time.  It is called the oldest profession, after all.  That doesn't stop me from shaking my head in disgust when I see it either on a profile or in my inbox.

Another gripe I had about POF were the profiles themselves.  Spelling and grammar are very important to me.  The misuse of homophones should be punishable by flogging in my opinion.  Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  But I really hate it.  POF was riddled with poorly written profiles.  Many of which espoused misogynistic views.  Oh, and a profile picture with money, drugs, or people making obscene gestures is an automatic "no".

On a positive note, Plenty of Fish gave me fodder for my blog as well as some great stories to tell over drinks with the girls.  Unfortunately, it didn't offer much more than that.  I've heard about other people becoming friends with men they met on the site. While I'm glad it yielded a level of success for them, I won't be logging in again anytime soon (read: never).

Five Sites and No Cigar

Online dating.  Love it or hate it, the phenomenon brings a sense of curiosity with it. Even those who never thought they would be into "that sort of thing" have found themselves perusing dating sites hoping to find their paramour.  Some *cough, cough* have drifted to numerous sites (try five) to see what they have to offer.  Hey, a gal can't call herself a dating guru without doing her research.

Overall, I think the logic behind online dating is solid. You like a profile for a number of reasons - the person has similar taste in music, you both love the great outdoors, or they are just plain hot. You communicate back and forth with potentials.  My super logical bestie came up with a theoretical calculation for choosing mates...and it worked!  She is now happily tied down from her romp with online dating.  But that approach doesn't work for everyone.

First, let's start with opening lines.  Some people are great at it.  Others aren't.  And then there are those that are downright offensive:

Riiight... because "Hello, how are you" just won't get the job done.

Once the conversation gets rolling, communication becomes a lot easier.  You get to learn more about the other person (i.e. how much inner crazy they have).  It is also possible to gauge whether chemistry exists between the two of you.  Next comes the phone number exchange.

Typically text messages follow online interactions.  If a fellow has the chutzpah to call you, give him a brownie point or two!  A majority of the guys I have met (whether online or in person) prefer texting over talking.  Even after mentioning that talking on the phone is preferable, they continued to text *mental eye roll*. That's not even reading the tea leaves wrong...it's just plum laziness.  In any event, if he continues to pass the ink blot test and all is well, a first date ensues.

Coffee dates are great first, semi-blind date venues. I mean the best.  They are great for conversation.  You don't have to worry about getting food stuck in your teeth (unless, of course, you order food).  And they can be cut short easily if things go south.  No waiting around for the other person to eat, or the waitress moving at a snail's pace to bring back the check.  Nope.  Coffee is usually paid for at the time of service.  If something "suddenly" comes up, and you need to bolt, go for it. 

As you can see, I've developed sort of a roadmap here.  Experiences vary for everyone.  However, this is a pretty spot on template...and it just doesn't work for me.  I find that I like chemistry to develop organically.  Online dating feels forced...like there's some sort of an expectation for me to open my legs, get married next week, or both.  Coming up, I will give a detailed review of all five dating sites that I've tried - leaving no stone unturned.

Have you had success with online dating?  Let us know about it in the comments!