The other day I overheard this conversation:
Woman: I think I’m going to sign up for online dating.
Man: Don’t do it.
Woman: Why not?
Man: You might as well be a mail order bride.
Woman: Really? How so?
Man: The entire premise of online dating revolves around you selling yourself to men. It’s disgusting and barbaric. Why would you want to participate in that?
Me (thinking to myself): Wow, dude, calm down. Online dating is NOT like being a mail order bride.
I would have given him the following reasons:
- I’m not for sale. Personally, I don’t allow men to pay for me on a first date. While I always want them to offer, I prefer to pay for myself. It’s not that I’m a feminist, but I try to see the situation from their perspective. Men are expected to pay for the first date, and if they are dating online, most likely they are going on multiple dates. Online dating is a crap shoot, so they could be going on several first dates a week, paying upfront before they even care two cents about the girl. Of course, a truly chivalrous guy wouldn’t care, and that’s why I always take into account if they offer. However, there is nothing wrong with letting a guy pay, but he still isn’t purchasing you; you don’t owe him anything.
- Unlike a shopping catalogue, where you pick what you want, order and pay for it, then it’s shipped to your house, online dating isn’t a guarantee. A man could ask me out and I could say no, and vice versa. You’re simply being “introduced” online and where you go from there is up to each person individually. For now, the “place in shopping cart” button has not yet been invented.
- The return policy sucks. In some cases of mail ordering a bride, if you’re not satisfied with the “merchandise” upon arrival, after a determined time, you can return your “purchase,” with a money back guarantee (usually minus shipping costs). With online dating, there is no such safety net. You’re on your own. Awkward first dates, men who disappear out of nowhere, failed relationships… they are all par for the course and a risk you take.
- While online dating (in most cases) is far more humanizing than being a mail order bride, in a sense you are selling yourself. For some people, there’s no getting around the “ick” factor. However, in my mind, it’s all about presentation. If you’re listing off your qualities like you’re a show pony up for auction, then the ick factor increases. But, contrary to what some people believe, there is a dignified way to date online. You can write a few sentences about yourself and briefly describe the kind of person you’d like to meet, without coming off like you’re soliciting someone for marriage.
My advice for your (non mail order bride profile): Keep it real, keep it light, keep it fun. Because, after all, you’re not desperate (for a green card), you’re just looking for someone to enhance your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that (Yes, I’m talking to you, bitter, angry man in line at the grocery store).