I attended a funeral recently, of my best friend’s grandmother. I’d spent many holidays at her house along with my friend and she had always treated me with the same love and warmth she showed her actual grandchildren. Her husband of nearly fifty years predeceased her, maybe three years ago. So she used an online dating service which I’ll euphemistically call “LoveLighter.com.”1 There, she met a man roughly her age, with whom she fell in love. Then, she entered an advanced phase of Parkinson’s disease, to which she recently succumbed. The fellow stuck with her until the end, and it was heartwarming to see his family and hers embracing one another in their time of shared grief.
Now, as I’ve shared before, I’m in the midst of a divorce, which was more than a little bit unexpected to me after twelve and a half years of what seemed to me like a happy marriage. Divorce paperwork is pending in the courts, but I find that I just don’t like being alone. I figure that a good way to combat the depression of the divorce is to find some sort of hope that I will be able to attain the sort of future I want my life to be like. That includes having a new relationship. So I figured, if a senior woman who is literally dying of Parkinson’s disease can find actual love on LoveLighter.com, then a healthy, not-bad-looking guy half her age, with a good job, should be able to find love there as well.
I paid LoveLighter.com a little bit of money to participate in its service. I created a profile for myself. In it, I posted actual recent pictures of myself. I described my height, occupation, education, religion, marital status and physical build truthfully. Then, I said that I want to find a woman who was between ten years younger than me to five years older than me, who lived within 50 miles of my zip code, and who had at least “some college” on her description of her educational level. I used no other filtering criteria.
True to its promises, over the past two months, LoveLighter.com has offered me profiles of literally hundreds of women. I’ve received an e-mail every day of the week with about a dozen leads a day. From there, it’s up to me to write a “hi, you look interesting to me” e-mail to them through LoveLighter’s proprietary system. In the past two months, I have sent out over 200 such e-mails, soliciting return interest. A grand total of twelve women have written me back. Their responses are as follows, with one edited for brevity:
- Thank you very much for this email. I am not interested.
- We actually have a lot in common!!!!
(She was right, but there was no further response to my follow-up e-mail.)
- Thank you for your good written email. I actually find it refreshing I do enjoy verbal conversation, I believe it’s a better way to express yourself the way you intended to.
(Did not include her phone number; no further response to follow-up e-mail.)
- Hi there Burt.
(No further response to follow-up e-mail.)
- Hi Burt, Thank you for your message. I don’t think we would be a match though. Good luck in your search.
- [Although your e-mail makes you seem attractive and interested in many things I am also interested in, t]he longer it takes to “get over, through, and out” of all the issues and become truly available to someone else. (Not making this up, go ask any professional that deals with relationship counseling. There is a ratio. For every 5 years married 1 year to work on yourself.) I may be jaded; unfortunately, I’ve been burned too many times by those “recently divorced”. It seems that is what I attract and end up the “rebound chick”. No hard feelings, I wish you well.
- Hello Burt. I liked everything you had to say. You lost me at the atheist part. Thanks for taking the time to write. Happy fishing.
- Thanks for the e-mail. I’ve met someone a few months ago and need to take my profile down.
- Thank you for the email. After checking your profile I do not think we would be a match. I am a Christian and also don’t date people who are not fully divorced. Thank you for the email and best of luck to you.
- I was hoping for someone taller.
- Good morning! Thank you for contacting me :)
(No further response to follow-up e-mail.)
- Thank you for your message. My last boyfriend was an attorney and it ended badly. Good luck in your search.
Now, the system does seem to have some bugs. It sent me a number of women for consideration who live more than 50 miles away. Two women who live out-of-state sent me “winks” indicating interest. Both of their profiles turned out to be unavailable for me to review when I went to follow up on them.2 And it offered me one profile of a man — I guess seeing that I haven’t had too much luck with the ladies, the computer wonders if maybe I might be curious about… no? Oh, okay then. The educational range filter has seemed to get a little bit loose over time, too: initially, all the women had at least bachelor’s if not graduate degrees, but upon review of more recent proffers, a substantial percentage of the women selected for my consideration turn out to describe themselves as having only high school educations.
After two months and two hundred e-mails I don’t think the problem is that I’m being too picky with who I send expressions of interest.3 I’m beginning to think that I’ve been too honest about myself in my profile. Based on the feedback I’ve received, in order to attract a woman of roughly appropriate age, with at least some postsecondary education, who live within fifty miles of me:
- I need to become taller.
- Because of something some other attorney did, I need to change my career.
- Since I can’t actually stop being an atheist, apparently I should say that I’m a Christian and only after I have established a relationship with the woman (by having sex with her?) can I then be honest about my atheism. A relationship built upon a foundation that includes lying about one’s own religious faith is surely bound to succeed.
- There’s this ratio, you see, so I need to be lonely for two and a half more years before looking for a woman.
With sobriety, I don’t think I can expect a high response percentage. But the responses I’m getting are infuriating indeed. Something along the lines of Actual Response No. 1 above (“Thank you very much for this email. I am not interested.”) is a perfectly respectable thing to communicate. But something like Actual Response No. 4 (“Hi there Burt.”) acknowledges my existence and message, but she doesn’t give me any feedback one way or the other. Then she ignores me. What am I supposed to do with that? The answer turns out to be, “Move on to other prospects.”
And most frustrating of all are the respondents who take the time to explain what’s wrong with me. Seriously? If you see something that’s a dealbreaker for you in my profile, just say “Thanks, but I’m not interested,” and move on. WTF.
There has got to be a better way to meet someone than this. In the sense that this doesn’t appear to be a viable way to meet someone at all. I have had the same degree of success that I would have had doing nothing.
There’s a guarantee that LoveLighter.com makes, if I do the things they say I should do (which I have) and haven’t “met someone special” within six months, they’ll give me another six months of the service free. Despite the fact that it looks like I’m going to be eligible, I doubt that I’ll take them up on this guarantee.
- Not intended to refer to an actual website using that name, which is not a dating site. [↩]
- LoveLighter.com offers a premium service that allows a user’s profile to be private such that you can read other peoples’ profiles but they can’t read yours or send you inquiries. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of actively looking for a dating partner? [↩]
- Doing the math, I’ve sent a note indicating interest to approximately 22% of the profiles LoveLighter.com has sent me. [↩]