Last year I was the Maid of Honor in the wedding of a girlfriend of mine whom I met via Match.com.* Yes, that Match.com, the online dating website… or is it?
Turns out there are valuable alternative uses for Match.com!
Yes, I am aware that there are social networking tools available out there for making friends and finding people to engage in shared interests and hobbies, but sometimes you have to cast a wider net to catch the bigger fish. This is coming from someone with over a decade of online dating experience, by the way. I am a huge advocate for online dating and networking in general, but I had been looking at these same aggregators and search results for a really long time and sometimes you just gotta find fresh ways to look at the same thing in order to preserve your sanity. Turn that painting on its side, am I right?
You see, I don’t always view the world the way that other people tend to do. I enjoy looking for hidden opportunity to re-purpose existing processes and tools to achieve different or better outcomes. I’m crafty like that. And apparently I am not the only one! Last month Jeff Bercovici wrote an article for Forbes that highlighted the growing popularity of using technology and particularly social media in unexpected, “off-label” ways.
Turns out that was exactly what happened with me almost 5 years ago. Let’s do a Wayne’s World “doodly-doop” time warp back to January of 2010… I had been finishing out a 90-day Match.com membership and I was simultaneously becoming hyper aware of the fact that so many of my girlfriends had recently gotten hitched, given birth, or moved out of state in a tidal wave of responsible-qualify-for-home-loan-and-buy-a-diaper-genie Adultdom, leaving me to fend for myself in still-eating-cold-pizza-over-the-sink Singledom.
If you’re single or have ever been single long enough for the seasons to change, then you probably know that the period of time from November 15 – February 15 can be especially challenging. Not because of any especially bad weather (I live in Santa Monica; our weatherman’s time is better spent DJing weddings and bar mitzvahs than reporting any meteorological phenomena). The winter months suck because during this time there is an unspoken oath, an invisible force field that electrifies interaction between single individuals, and if you listen closely you can hear its ominous, Game of Thrones-esque knell: Winter is coming. Thou shalt not commit. Thou shall avoid any potentially awkward confrontations regarding holiday gifts, premature meeting of the families, or the dreaded mutual time off discussion.
“Evelyn, I’m sorry, I just, uh… you’re not terribly important to me.” – Patrick Bateman, American Psycho
See, you don’t want the honeymoon phase of dating to occur during the winter months, because you’re so high on dopamine that you make really dumb decisions like inviting a total stranger to your company holiday party who then goes to town on the eggnog, gets a little handsy with your co-worker, and ends up passed out shirtless on your boss’ desk; or agreeing to drive 7 hours to spend Thanksgiving re-living the cat-milking scene from Meet the Fockers; or diverting half a month’s rent to buy a gift for someone you’ve never even seen naked (or have only seen naked). That’s why deep down some of us have been hardwired to avoid meaningful dating activity until at least after that great love guru, Punxsutawney Phil (not to be confused with Dr. Phil), has decreed that winter’s end is nigh. And even then only the truly daring attempt the fool’s errand of dating someone new within 2 weeks of every florist and chocolatier’s Superbowl… yes, here I am referring to the ever-controversial St. Valentine’s Day.
With V-day approaching, I decided that just because I hadn’t met “The One” on Match.com didn’t mean it had to be written off as a total loss. I had nearly 2 weeks before my subscription would expire, and in a stroke of genius I simply did a search as a “Man looking for a Woman”, input all the criteria about geographic proximity, age range, activity level, non-smoking, etc. and voila! Operation Girlfriend Revival was officially underway. I cruised through dozens of profiles for my prospective new lady friends, narrowed it down to a smaller pool of candidates, and sent them each a little note expressing my interest in a platonic friendship.
The response rate was about 50% (no doubt the non-responsive half either thought I was a total weirdo or took issue with my oft-misunderstood taste in Jean-Claude Van Damme action flicks). In the end, I ended up meeting 2 of the ladies in person (one for barre method class, another for dinner) and we have been friends ever since. One has moved back to Canada for work and the other is now married with her first child — the unexpected yet happy result of letting me auction her off for money so that One Love Generation could empower kids through art. Subtext: let your friends push you outside of your comfort zone once in awhile.
So the next time you find yourself frustrated with a dating website or social app, just think of this story and the alternative uses for Match.com memberships, and be reminded that there are still happy endings to be had. Instead of meeting the love of your life, you might just meet your future Maid of Honor!