Over the last fifteen years as my love life provided mediocre levels of satisfaction, multiple friends made the offer to manage it for me. If I filled in the profile information and paid the money for the online dating service of my choice, these friends would screen and select suitable candidates, and then all I would have to do is show up for coffee. Generous and attractive in theory, but terrifying when you saw the looks of glee or heard the cackles of anticipation. Also, some of these friends had terrible taste in men.
In late June, through a convoluted series of events, I hired someone to provide that exact service, a matchmaker. Live matchmakers have never interested me because they seem like their focus is connecting rich, older men with gorgeous, younger women. Not my cup of tea. This new matchmaking service (eHarmony started offering it in December of 2013) uses trained relationship therapists as their matchmakers, and there’s no limit on the number of matches they’ll make for you in a year. I like that there’s real training and expertise, and I especially like that they have a financial incentive to find me a match as early in the process as possible. I’ve completed the online profile, I asked a real photographer to take pictures, and I’ve uploaded them. My work is done.
I’m trying to be committed to this in the right way. What I mean by this is that when I’ve tried online dating, I start with an open mind. I complete my profile thoughtfully and honestly, I upload recent pictures, and I enter realistic search parameters. I have enough friends and acquaintances who’ve had success with online dating that I start the process optimistically. My experience devolves either into medium disappointment or a parade of hilarious horror. There’s a part of me that’s expecting this matchmaking experience to be an expensive variation of that.
I’m fighting my expectation that this will be a series of bad dates that will prevent me from having writer’s block for several months. I have concerns that this is eHarmony – I believe in God, but I fear church. The eHarmony rep assured me that, while the service’s roots are in church, the population has expanded far beyond church. I’ve heard from gay friends that eHarmony only allows heterosexuals to use its services. They worry about the kind of people I’ll meet through eHarmony given the exclusion. The matchmaker said to have a real photographer take pictures, and the matchmaker was also explicit that I needed at least one full-body picture. I did what he told me to, and I cringed as I uploaded the pictures. Don’t I have a responsibility not to feed into the shallower aspects of society? Do I want to be matched with a man who doesn’t mind discriminating against gay people and also wouldn’t date me if I were heavier than I am which I was not too long ago?
All of this internal conflict – it’s all valid, but a lot of it stems from fear. Sure, there’s fear that the matchmaking won’t work out. There’s bigger fear that it will. I mean, holy crap, what if this works??? What if I meet a great guy, and he’s someone I want to spend the rest of my life with? The thought of this freaks me out so much that I’ve ended two sentences with a preposition and my blood pressure spiked as I was typing.
I know what to do and how to act with the wrong men. I have no idea what to do or how to act with the right one. What if the matchmaker does his job, and I meet a great guy? One that my family loves, one that my friends are willing to spend time with, one who’s in the trenches with me in hand-to-hand combat, watching my flank? And then what if I completely mess it up?
I swing between ratcheting up my anxiety and then talking myself off the ledge. It doesn’t sound healthy, but there was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to talk myself off the ledge, so this is actually progress.
In any event, I suspect you will be reading a lot in the near future about this adventure. It will give you way more insight than you want about the specifics of my craziness (although it’s not like I’ve been disguising it so far). I hope y’all like roller coasters.
(P.S. Sorry for the absence. Various permutations of Mama, Papa, and Sister Cooper have been home and then not, and the resulting flurry of activity and chaos on top of my usual obligations pushed travelfoodandlife to the bottom of the list. Also, do you know how hard it was to avoid using “make me a match” in the title of this entry? REALLY HARD. I feel proud for resisting the temptation.)