Friday, January 26, 2007

When looks can kill a date

Once I was three hours late for a date--but my potential suitor was more miffed that I don't look like my photograph than the fact that he stood outside all afternoon shivering in the fog.

Face it, looks matter in the online dating scene. A lot. Too much, I think. (Did I mention that you were a lot smaller and shorter than I expected? That your hairstyle was kind of conservative for my taste? Did that make me disappointed? No, but your crestfallen facial expression sure did. It was obvious that SOMETHING WAS WRONG.) Ooops, I guess I should have postponed this one until the my acne facial peel recovered. Ooops, I guess I should have blowdried my hair instead of appearing with it in its natural curly state.

But ooops-- dont' you think that you're idea, arriving just after running the Bay to Breakers race was a bad idea. (You did warn me you'd be "a little bit sweaty.")

Being thought of as a good looking woman most of my adult life, it's difficult for me to accept the idea that I get rejected on the basis of my looks so often when I meet someone in the personals. (I'm quite attractive. An online date fell flat...but the very next day a man asked me for my number in Whole Foods Market while I was standing next to the bananas.)

No, I think there's just something warped about meeting someone online. It warps the expectation meter.

There was one man who hit on me constantly at a dance event. A few months later we stumbled on each other in the personals so we went out, and it fell flat.

He said: "I'm not feeling any chemistry." What? You were trying to put your hands all over me when you met me "out there". But then we do the standard, uptight internet date and it just whithers and dies. There's just something downright toxic about Internet dates.

The expectation level is ridiculous. Why does every man think he "deserves" a 10? Why do they all think they "deserve" a woman ten years younger? One man met me in a date and the first said: "Your hair isn't red! You lied!"

Looking good in a photograph is not the same thing as looking good in real life. As an image-creator, as a person who meets and mingles with and works with people in the public eye, we know this is true. At first, when I saw some celebrities I've met...oh my God. Some of them looked so shockingly, horrifyingly different than their glam airbrushed photographs. But over time, as their wit and personality and verve and life emerged...those frumpy middle aged women with the cavernous wrinkles and those middle aged paunchy men with the bags under their eyes became sexy and vital and attractive. Because beauty and vitality really come from within...from our confidence and our personality. And that vitality can vary greatly from day to day, depending on our moods, the weather, what we're doing, where we are and who we're with.

I've met some stunningly attractive men from these ads...but that didn't make the sparks fly. It all comes from within. It's ineffable. Indefinable. You can't put your finger on it but you know it's there...when it's there.

Unfortunately, I happen to be photogenic--but variably attractive (that is, sometimes I look great, sometimes horrible. I'm not consistently gorgeous from day to day and I know it). I have great photographs...all taken during those peak moments when I was in love, my hair was having a good day, on the beach, on vacation. Well of course I look better in that light than I will when I've been sitting in traffic for two hours rushing to get to a date, or I've been working all day, or we're feeling lonely and rejected. Rush hour isn't usually a Kodak moment.

Is that too much to ask? Do I have to be THE LOVE OF THIS GUYS LIFE to spend some time hiking and driving to the country and having some fun? Do we have to be lonely just because we're not perfect? If we all lowered our standards we'd be a lot happier -- and these websites would be out of business.

So I have a new dating rule -- no coffee dates. No sweaty hikes. I am only going to meet men in situations where I can dress nicely, where the room is intimate, where it's appropriate for me to wear a miniskirt and heels, where the mood is relaxed, where chemistry might have a chance to spark. The only successful Internet dates I've had (success being measured by the first date leading to a second and then a third) were drinks in a quiet bar, or intimate dinners, at night, wine served. The hit and run 25 minute job interview style coffee date has a dismal track record.

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