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What Happened When I Joined Match.com at 58

I'd done so many scary things in my life, but this might be the scariest. At the age of 58, I joined a dating site.

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Yet union with a partner — someone with whom to wake, whom you love, and talk with on and off all day, and sit with at dinner, and watch TV and movies, read together in bed, do hard tasks together, and to be loved by. That sounds really lovely.

I had experienced varying degrees of loneliness since my guy and I split up. After our breakup, I had just assumed there would be a bunch of kind, brilliant, liberal, funny guys my age to choose from. There always had been before. Surely my friends would set me up with their single friends, and besides, I am out in the public a lot doing events at bookstores and political gatherings, the ideal breeding ground for my type of guy. But I hadn’t met anyone.

People don’t know single guys my age who are looking for single women my age. A 60-year-old man does not fantasize about a 60-year-old woman. A 70-year-old man might. And an 80-year-old — ooh-la-la.

Almost everyone wonderful that my friends know is in a relationship, or gay, or cuckoo.

I went onto Match.com with a clear knowledge that relationships are not the answer to lifelong problems. They’re hard, after the first trimester. People are damaged and needy and narcissistic. I sure am. Also, most men a single woman meets have been separated or divorced for about 20 minutes.

The man of my most recent long-term relationship, whom I’d been with nearly seven years, was in a new, committed relationship about three weeks after we split up.

I am not kidding. You can ask him. We’re very friendly.

So I signed up at Match.com. This – subscribing — means you can communicate with people at the site, instead of just studying the profiles, questionnaires, preferences and photographs for free. I subscribed and answered the questions.

My preferences are smart, funny, kind, into nature, God, reading, movies, pets, family, liberal politics, hiking; I prefer sober, or sober-ish.

So the first morning, eight profiles of men varying in age from 54 to 63 arrived by email. Most seemed pretty normal, with college degrees, which I don’t have, but certainly meant to; some attractive, mostly divorced but some like me, never married, some witty, some dull, sort of like real life.

Curiously, almost without exception, they were “spiritual but not religious.” I thought for a while that this meant ecumenical, drawn to Rumi, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver. But I have come to learn that this means they think of themselves as friendly. They are “glass half-full kind of people.” That’s very nice. They like to think that they are “closest to Buddhism,” and “open to the magic that is all around us.” They are “people-people.” They are “open-minded and welcome all viewpoints.” They are rarely seeking religious nuts like myself — rather, they are seeking open, non-judgmental women. (The frequent reference to wanting a non-judgmental woman makes a girl worry: What if you’re pretty non-judgmental, but then Larry Craig asks you out for coffee, or  Buzz Bissinger, and little by little, more is revealed?) A strangely high number of them mention that they hope you’ve left your baggage at the airport — because, I guess, they are all well! I love this so much.

Eight new guys arrived every day, along with a remnants section of men who lived pretty far away. Some of my eight guys were handsome, if you could believe their profiles, and in my case the profiles tended to be pretty legitimate. They mentioned that they drank moderately, or never, or socially (the most you can admit to. There is no way to check for “drinks alcoholically”).

 
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