Friday, February 24, 2006

espresso dating

Have you heard about this one? Starbucks has teamed up with Yahoo! Personals in what they call 'Espresso Dating'.

The site includes a dating guide and dating suggestions - and stories of success: i.e. "lingered over lattes... got married in April"!

I tell you, if I didn't have such lovely date myself, I'd be tempted to join - if nothing else then for the $10 Starbucks card you get just for signing up! Even if the dates suck, I'd have at least 5 grande coffees or a couple of fancy lattes.

Yet even the promise of free coffee may not be enough to lead me to cast on-line for my chances at true love. I've always been one to despair about Internet personals - although I do know several people for whom it's worked out quite well.

I did, briefly, put myself up on lavalife. There were a few things I found strange about it: first, it seemed to create a false perception that there were hundreds of matches for me. Scrolling through the photos is like walking up to a buffet table the length of a football field. All this, just for me!!! But all these options actually make people pretty darn picky. You walk past the bagels, which on a regular day you quite enjoy, because you're sure there is smoked salmon and brie farther along. When you meet people in a human setting, such as at a house party, you are one of perhaps a dozen 'options' in the room and actually score a better chance of connecting with someone than when you are one option in a thousand.

The other thing I noticed about online dating - and this leads from the last point about the sheer size of it all - is that it encourages arbitrary criteria. So I'd search for men between the ages of 30 - 35, who were over 5'9" but under 6'2". I could even choose if I wanted someone who was interested in having kids yet didn't have any, who had an income over a certain amount and who lived within a certain radius of my home. Interestingly, V had a lava profile on line at the same time as I and yet in our searches we never came across each other since our ages 'don't match'.

I did get a few hits on my lava profile. A man in Niagara asked if I wanted to meet for a date, but I considered the 6 hour drive a little much. A man in his 50s, with the tag line 'I'm ready!' sent me his photo. (Did it take him 50 years to get ready for dating?) I had one awkward coffee date with man who had lied about his height and his weight.

But to be honest, I found that having a profile up there - while at first an exciting for all the suggested possibilities - was just another source of discouragement. Perhaps for some people, those photogenic ones with a knack for writing witty intros - it's a great ego boost. But for others like me it can just be one more place you feel like you are being sized up, compared to the multitudes of others, and in some way found lacking.

But my profile has been off-line for almost a year now. Thanks to an offer to sub in for a basketball game, I met someone the old fashioned way. And it was even Valentine's Day - so when both of us were willing to go for drinks with the team after the game, it was pretty clear neither of us had someone to hurry home to... and here we are, one year later.

If I had been dependent on lava, I may be dating someone who is the right height, age and proximity to me - yet not the uniquely right match for me as V is.

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