Four weeks ago my friend Amy, in a classic “look over there” move, strongly encouraged me to check out a website called Plenty of Fish. Amy did this to distract my attention from someone in my life who was causing me strife – a person who she thought didn’t deserve the time of day. Well, let me tell ya’ – that Amy, she knows how to get the job done. I listened, I looked, and I have been pleasantly distracted for four whole weeks. Now I am back to report upon lessons learned whilst fishing.
Plenty of Fish is a free online dating site for all ages that allows you to search for folks based on the type of relationship you are interested in – from email and hanging out to a long-term relationship – it is all there. I must confess, even with the Amy stamp of approval I had my doubts at first. Those doubts were erased once I threw my line in the water and commenced to fish in earnest. Of course, fishing in earnest requires a profile – preferably one with a photo (or photos). A certain amount of courage is involved I believe in posting a profile and photo on Fish. You pretty much have to open up a bit of your soul for viewing and frankly that can leave one feeling terribly vulnerable; but, with that vulnerability comes an excitement of potentiality that is invigorating (or conversely, enough to make you want to throw up).
At any rate, Amy sent me off to fish merrily and fish merrily I did. I am here to tell you folks that fishing is not the relaxing sport it is made out to be (at least not on Fish) – it is a full-time job. Between answering general emails and telling folks about yourself and going on lunches, dinners and outings – I don’t think I have gotten more than a handful of hours of sleep on any given night since I began my fishing vacation. I am exhausted…dating is an endurance race to be sure – one must pace oneself. I did not pace myself; indeed, as a colleague and I joked the other day, my over-dating led me to be over dating.
And let me note here something I believe may be overlooked – dating is calorie intensive. Dating is not the activity to undertake when you are working on your best body ever. One can only do so many lunch and dinners out without having to put in more workout hours just to balance the scales. Take that into consideration when you are given an option as to what you would like to do – meeting for coffee is good.
All-in-all, I learned a lot on Fish. In my time there I had an opportunity to converse with a number of very nice gentlemen and a slew of very naughty young men. A note to the ladies, being on Fish is not for the faint of heart. I consider myself fairly sturdy and savvy and I heard things I had never heard before…never…not even in law school in California…and I thought I had heard it all…apparently not. Having said that, Fish, when done well, is great fun. Be specific in your profile about what you are and are not looking for and don’t be afraid to block folks that are offensive or bothersome. Also, don’t become too invested in any one fish right out the gate as there are – as stated – plenty of fish. The pond is constantly being re-populated and you never know what may swim in your direction next.
There are some folks on Fish who are not the most honest or gracious folks in the world – they are fairly easy to spot (anyone who is in love with you after exchanging only an email or two is probably working an angle – not that you aren’t fabulous and deserving of such adoration – it just doesn’t really happen like that). The sharing of information on the front end coupled with all the written communication creates a sense of instant connection that while alluring is really quite artificial…remember that.
Also, be careful with the type of information you share. You don’t need to tell someone all your life details in email correspondence and to do so would not be prudent. Don’t lose your head in the moment. Online dating is not the same animal as regular old-school dating – it is a much more complex and difficult to navigate landscape (at least so says this dinosaur). If you have a connection that endures beyond meeting in person you can start sharing more details then when you can see the person, take in their tone and read their body language.
I had a fab four weeks on Fish and I enjoyed my foray into the world of internet dating- however brief. Amy’s distract Carol mission was a huge success and it taught me a great deal about myself and my dating style. I realized that I really do prefer old-school dating where you do all your initial getting to know the person face-to-face (even if it is more time intensive and seemingly archaic). I know times have changed and internet dating is here to stay, but I think my next dating efforts will have to be ones that develop through real life not the internet. Of course, those efforts may be long in the coming as I need time to recover from my extended fishing vacation (even a catch and release program takes effort).
A final note on online dating before I close this chapter of exploration in my life…my profile on the Fish site expressly stated – “I don’t hunt, camp, fish or Nascar” – yeah…it appears I do fish…for future old-school dating reference – “I don’t hunt, camp or Nascar.”
Day three hundred and seventy-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da