I think I would qualify as an online dating veteran. I joined match.com back in 2000 and used it off and on again for seven years and yahoo personals on occasion. Excluding my wonderful fiance who I met on Match last January, I met and had serious relationships with 4 other guys in that time. I can also happily say I never had any disastrous dates or met any wackos through the personals.
I have a great friend who is smart, beautiful, funny and independent. She’s never been married, no kids, no bad habits except for buying lots of shoes, but that is forgivable. She’s trying online dating again with some level of frustration. I have lots and lots of advice for men that are doing online dating but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about online dating and how it really is a lot like fishing.
My grandfather liked to hunt and fish and garden – a real outdoorsy kind of guy. He had four daughters before he had a son who could go hunting with him. Then he had seven granddaughters before his first grandson (we must have very dominant X chromosones in our family). I think he got tired of waiting for a grandson and figured he’d make do with the pack of granddaughters he was given. His doctor had a small pond on a piece of land. He let my grandfather go fishing there anytime he wanted. Every so often a bunch of us would be staying at their house while our parents were “out on the town”.
He and my grandmother would pile all of us (sometimes all 7) into his sedan (a 1970’s Old Cutlass or some other gigantic car that was at least 20′ long) and we’d head out to the pond. We’d have the windows rolled down and be bouncing around the back seat and he’d be in the front seat, cigarette in his left hand that was hanging out the window, his other hand on the wheel, completely oblivious to the chaos surrounding him. Once we’d get to the pond, he’d pull down a branch from a poplar tree, whittle it down, put a line, bobber and hook with a worm onto the end and send us out on the pier to fish. My grandmother was on hand with a roll of toilet paper for us to use in the weeds should nature call. We’d sit on that pier waiting for our red and white plastic bobber to jiggle and tell us we had a bite. Every so often we’d catch a blue gill or some other little fish. They’d get thrown back in, but I think we managed to convince him to take two home in a bucket one night. Unfortunately, the poor fellows didn’t make it past morning. The fishing was fun, but being out with my cousins and grandparents on a warm summer evening doing something different was more fun than actually catching the fish.
How are online dating and fishing alike you ask? Unless you are dependent on catching a fish for your next meal, there really shouldn’t be any pressure to catch one. You should be there just to enjoy the process. So, you throw your line in, hope for a bite and if you get one check to see if it’s a keeper. Same goes for dating, you put your profile out there (your bait) wait for a bite (wink, correspondence) and then see if they are a keeper. Most of the time you’ll get a nibble but they won’t bite on to the hook.
In between the nibbles you may have a lot of time on your hands, the fish might be busy in another area of the pond or they haven’t realized that you have your bait out. Don’t panic! There are plenty of fish, and some fish might be in the process of being thrown back into the pond by another fisher and they will be available again. While you’re waiting, look around and enjoy the scenery, the weather, the other fishers.
When you do get one to bite, you have to reel them in slowly so you don’t scare them. This is a process, they might manage to get themselves off the hook in the process because they weren’t firmly on the hook to begin with. That’s ok – you only want to bother with the ones firmly on the hook.
Once you’ve landed them, then you need to take some time to decide if they are worth keeping. It’s exciting that you’ve caught your first fish but make sure it is the fish you want. You don’t want to end up with a dead fish in a bucket the next morning.
I managed to catch my fish and keep him. It took a lot of fishing but it was well worth the wait.