It’s amazing how often song lyrics from the most unlikely sources can truly encapsulate what you’re feeling. This time it’s the gruff, gritty tones and words of The Boss. Being somewhat more into Motown, Wham, and any sort of happy music, Bruce Springsteen is not high on any of my playlists. Yet, he very succinctly once wrote …
“Lay your money and you play your part.
Everybody’s got a hungry heart.”
Ever since Lesley suggested I try getting back on track with my love life and join a dating agency, my eyes have been well and truly opened to how true that chorus is.
I did use online dating a long, long time ago, in its formative stages. Being free and single, if not exactly young, there was an offer of a free month’s trial. In that time I dated three different people. It seemed most people then had the same attitude I had. It was a bit of fun with the promise of a fumble with no strings attached.
Not so now, though. I really did, and still do, have my doubts about Lesley suggesting the right thing, so perhaps my view is somewhat skewed. From what I’ve garnered of it all, there’s still a few people looking for fun and nothing else. A lot more people, though but, seem to take it so seriously, as if it is the definitive answer to finding love.
It’s good business for the dating industry. They lure you in with promises of being able to view your matches for free. It’s a clever ploy. You see someone you like and think may hit it off with, feelings begin to stir, at which point credit card details are asked for. As an impulse buy it must be right up there with the petrol station carnations on the way home.
Does it really work? It seems to. There’s testimony on countless sites of happy couples who met through them and living happily ever after. The benefits for to all see are obvious. Lonely people fall in love. Big business make their money. A match made in heaven.
Ah, but yet, but yet ….. Maybe I’m not the best person to dip my toes in the waters of online love. A mix of low self esteem and broken heart isn’t the recipe of finding someone. Nevertheless there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that something a little more sinister is going on.
Exploitation of people’s emotions for profit is pretty ugly, especially when no account is taken of people’s frame of mind. It’s something that these dating websites evidently do, as well. All in the name of money disguised as love.
The one that I predominantly use encourages you to answer scores and scores of questions, about your body, what you’re looking for, how you see yourself, and many seemingly inane ones about fictional situations.
If you don’t answer them, your screen and e-mail inbox gets bombarded about ‘improving your chances, or face missing out’. The more you do, the more they jump onto you if you stop. It’s annoying and something you want to ignore, yet it induces an irrational fear.
Talking of bombardment, every few hours, e-mail after e-mail comes in, whether you’re online or not, telling you on their matches. It’s also a big feature when using their site, drawing you to their ‘specially chosen matches based on what you’ve told us’.
It’s a lie. The matches I receive become increasingly further and further away from where I live. My match ‘range’ is that they be no more than 20 miles away. Looking through the latest matches, one is 200 miles away. Another is in a different country. The age range? Forget it. Their ‘special’ matches are regularly a good decade out from my specific preferences.
I feel insulted, cheated by them, giving my time and money on the promise of finding someone nearby, of a similar age, to share some happiness with. It’s obvious they just throw anything at you but do it persistently so you get the double whammy of being irritated and patronised.
As I said earlier, I’m probably not the best test subject for this at the moment. I know I have to get on with my life, and that my ex is exactly that, and has been for some time. Yet, I still love her deeply, I still miss her terribly. I woke up this morning and my first thought was of her. My first emotion was then one of hurt.
It’s probably just as well, then, that a lack of response from potential matches isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things presently. E-mails, virtual nods and winks are sent out. It’s obvious, however, that they’re not into me, with such a dearth of replies. Apart from those damned ‘more special matches’ e-mails.
Some of the people on there, mind, I can really see need help but don’t get what I’m lucky enough to be having. One profile talked of their carefully co-ordinated clothes, not even bothering to reply to anyone with children under 21, being materialistic, selfish, and looking for someone similar, and that they were worth it.
I felt sorry for them. Clearly that person had been living behind a mask to their feelings, wrapping it in clothes and arrogance and money, to the extent that the mask had really become them. Something has clearly been missing in their life to want to give an impression like that. I hope they find help as well as love in its truest sense.
It can really damage your self esteem as well. As hour after hour drifts by, searching for matches, sending e-mails out for potential dates and receiving nil in return, there’s a very real danger it can make you feel worse and worse about yourself. So you click again, refreshing the page, hoping this time it will work, addicted and lonely. They don’t tend to advertise that part.
So, sitting at home, relying on the interwebhighway for love? It may work for some. If you’re not enjoying good mental health, though, it can be a real danger. Be careful. For, as that famous bard, Bruce Springsteen once said:
You can’t start a fire without a spark.