By Andrew David East
I'd like to offer a defense of my embattled gender when it comes to internet dating and, as gently as possible, knock you ladies off your misinformed pedestal. First of all, yes, there are a large number of abnormal maniacs who congregate at online dating sites. When they're emailing you by the dozens and saying "uhhh, can I c yr boobs??!" over and over again, it's understandable you might lose sight of the fact that all men are not obnoxious clowns.
The reality is that if you are aged 25 or under, male or female, your screening system probably sucks. It doesn't matter whether you are meeting people on the internet, in a bar, or at a monster truck rally. Speaking as a 34-year-old man, I'm fairly certain that a 34-year-old woman wouldn't go out with a guy who casually mentions his penis in the first five minutes of conversation - no matter what medium that discussion took place in. In your mid to early 20s, you simply do not possess enough life experience to know how to go about picking a quality partner. More importantly, you also probably don't realize yet what it takes to make yourself a good partner for someone. These days, if you genuinely believe you've found true love before 25, you were either outrageously lucky or you're fooling yourself and are going to be divorced within five years.
Think about the serious relationships in your past, ladies. Many of them were probably not with guys who you met on the internet. Yet, I'm sure they still ended in a whirlwind of angry phone calls, sleepless nights, and too much mint chocolate chip ice cream. Dysfunction exists in exactly the same proportion offline as it does on. A scumbag will always be a scumbag and the fact that you encountered him through a dating website does not make it the website's fault.
For the record, men do not have a monopoly on shady internet dating practices. I could tell you plenty of hair-raising stories about the girls I went out with who I met online. The married middle-aged guy you went out with? At least he told you he was married before you slept together. Another girl, for some strange reason, neglected to mention her debilitating drug problem in her profile. The more you experience this sort of craziness though, the better you can weed out the freaks.
If or when you do find somebody online that you'd consider suitable for long-term companionship, will your perspective change? I hope so because it does happen and probably more often than you know. I was with a girl for five years who I met on the internet and I'm friends with more than one married couple who met through online dating sites. Chances are that you're just going about it the wrong way.
So let me offer this friendly advice on how to go about this more effectively. For one, if a guy feels the need to discuss his genitalia with you as soon as he can, he is far outside anything you should consider husband material, okay? Second, if he gives you flowers any time during dates 1-5, then forget him. Sure it's a nice gesture, but understand that he's using this grand romantic behavior to compensate for the fact that he has absolutely nothing insightful or humorous to say.. He will most likely turn out to be boring, something he hopes you overlook because, well, he did get you flowers.
The next idea might be tough to swallow, but try to have an open mind. Have you considered dating slightly outside of your socioeconomic circle? Yes, lawyers and financial analysts can take you out for $300 dinners, buy you expensive jewelry, and impress your parents. But I'd wager that a lot of them would also sell their grandmothers into white slavery for a limo ride and box seats to a Flyers game. The plumber or construction worker whose profile you dismissed out of hand because of their occupation could very well be the one who makes you laugh or who would send you flowers at work for your birthday; you know, when it would actually mean something.
Most importantly, just be patient. Even though it might seem like it right now, finding a husband (or wife) isn't a race. There's no special prize for doing it before somebody else. All the unpleasant experiences you've had thus far will just make it that much better when you do find the right person in the end. And who knows, might even meet him on the internet.