You can shop for anything on the internet nowadays, even a relationship. In the pre-electronic days, you met someone, fell in love, and hoped that your lifestyles, wants, and needs would somehow mesh or that you’d be able to compromise enough to find a mutually satisfying life. With online dating, you can bypass all that and look for someone to fit your lifestyle.
The problem with shopping for a relationship when you are no longer young is that not only do you already have a lifestyle that works for you, you also have a lot of baggage — family, children, pets, and especially highly individual and possibly eccentric opinions or preferences. These things are a problem even if you’re not looking for a serious relationship.
In my case, I don’t have much baggage except for my 97-year-old father, but I do have a lot of crotchets. I cannot tolerate smokers (I am allergic to smoke.) Unpleasant odors make me nauseous. I have never owned either a pair of high heels or jeans. (This normally wouldn’t be an issue, but a surprising number of men want women who are as comfortable in heels as they are in jeans.) And I’m not fond of dogs. (There, I said it. It’s probably un-American, but it’s the truth.)
Even more problematic are all my dichotomies. Like most women, I appreciate men who make me laugh, but I seldom find self-professed funny guys to be funny. I have no interest in discussing politics — most men who discuss such things seem naïve at best, boring at worst — and yet I like people who look beyond themselves. I like people who can write or at least express themselves well, but I don’t necessarily like writers. (But of course, I would never correct bad grammar. A friend once sent a love letter to her fiancé oversees, and he returned it with corrections in red. They still got married, but it didn’t last long.) I like people who are intelligent and think of more than their motorcycles or other toys, but I don’t particularly want to have deep conversations with them. I don’t like perfectly toned people (I actually find six-packs unattractive, which isn’t a problem since so few men of my age — or any age — have them), but I don’t like huge bellies, either.
Worst of all, when I am with someone, I like to be the center of their attention (and make them the center of my attention). I don’t like competing with pets and children, phones and televisions. This might seem selfish of me, but it’s not much of a relationship if one of the people can’t find time to pay attention to the other. The problem is that it’s almost impossible any more to find people who can focus their attention, and I don’t want to waste a minute of my life dumbly watching my companion having a relationship with a smartphone.
I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m sitting here alone tonight, but the truth is, I’m way past the stage of wanting to compromise. One woman I know who joined a dating site at an advanced aged could only get dates if she downplayed her intelligence, lopped a few years off her age, and posted a younger photo of herself. (Sheesh. We haven’t come far at all if women still have to play the “stupid” game to keep from intimidating the men.)
I suppose, if I really wanted to meet someone, I could fudge my statistics, but I am what I am, or rather, what I am becoming, and there’s no reason to hide it.
Besides, I don’t particularly like shopping for anything on the internet.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.