The Man (or Woman) Menu

While I’m currently in a relationship, I’ve spent half my adult life as a single woman.

I first discovered internet dating sites in the late 1990s (yes, they’ve been around that long!). I’ve seen a lot of profiles; some good, some bad. What I’m writing about today isn’t the profiles – it’s the “shopping” mentality we get into when we use an online dating site.

It is so easy when viewing a profile – a short snippet of someone’s life, committed quickly to the fitness-465203_1280screen, and in no way a complete view of the person himself or herself – to think to ourselves, “someone like this, only with that last guy’s hairline, and more conservative (or liberal), maybe more spiritual?”

And so we keep on clicking, moving past someone we very well might have “clicked” with if we’d met in real life instead of online.

woman-593141_1280The sites themselves encourage this “shopping” behavior. The longer you “shop,” the more it extends your membership period, or at the very least gives them more eyeballs for their advertisers. How do they encourage it? By showing you lists of similar matches.

“If you like X you might like these guys,” the site says. Then they point out the ways those “similar” matches are different from the profile you are viewing. people-875597_1280

“More spiritual,” says one. “More independent,” another. “Less conventional,” says a third. Besides the obvious questions (“By what measure? Who decides?”), these descriptors just feed into the “shopping” mentality.

Consider for a moment: people are not a buffet table. We can’t dish up our ideal person by taking a scoop of independence, a spoonful of integrity, and two slices of smarts.

It just doesn’t work that way.

portrait-804062_1280Instead, dating is more like a Prix Fixe “no substitutions” menu at a fancy restaurant. You can’t order Rueben without the mayo – er – moustache. Nor can you request that they add some Sherry to your Shirley (Temple).

What you see (on the menu) is what you get – the Chef’s specialty, done exactly the way he’d envisioned it.

We’re the same – each individual is exactly, perfectly, themselves as they are. Not “perfect if person-802488_1280only he didn’t laugh like that” or “ideal if only she were a bit shorter.”

We are perfectly ourselves, exactly as we are. Complete, as-is. Exactly as described.

Not younger.

Not older.

Not shorter.

woman-797390_1280Not taller.

Exactly as we are.

No substitutions allowed.