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Pulling the Profile
By David Israel

My therapist says nothing for a few moments, letting my last sentence linger in the air just to make sure I'm hearing myself. Then she poses the following question: "Well supposing Girl F is out there. Have you ever stopped to think that she might be on a different dating site than the one you're on? What then? Can you really afford to subscribe to them all?"

And that's when it hits me: There are just way too many options out there. Someone needs to launch one site that searches all the other sites and displays the top fifty results. A BizRate for the dating world. A MySimon for singles.

After therapy, I wander 14th Street in a state of bemused dismay. Everywhere I look there are storefronts advertising NEW! products. Pedestrians breeze by me carrying shopping bags full of, no doubt, IMPROVED! merchandise -- better than last year's, cooler than any predecessor, and certainly smaller than ever before.

Then I begin to think about the new car I was looking to buy just last week, online. The way the manufacturer's site allowed me to click through a dozen different pull-down menus, literally designing a custom-built vehicle from the ground up. It dawns on me that the same is true of most of what I buy. From my custom-tailored cable TV subscription, to the groceries delivered to my front door after I've carefully clicked through hundreds of options in twenty different departments offering everything from "Kosher" to "Organic & All Natural."

It's on the subway home that I realize how all this has affected my dating life: I've become a victim of my e-nvironment. I'm a fatality of the overwhelming variety the Internet offers. Were there an Over-Clickers Anonymous, I could be their poster child.

Used to getting everything I want with a push or pull of the mouse, I now understand how this has warped my outlook. In a blazing revelation on the F-train, I begin to understand the difference between selecting an Off-Road Tire Package and the minimum degree I'd like my potential soulmate to have graduated with.

Furious with myself for allowing the problem to snowball out of control, I immediately resolve to call Jamie the moment I get home. Also, more importantly, I decide should the conversation and ensuing date go well, I'll have to give the incipient relationship a fair shake by pulling my profile off the site and suspending my membership at once.

Of course the truth is if things are going well, the temptation to look at new profiles shouldn't exist. But we all know there's a difference between truth in the real world and inquisitiveness in the virtual one. Running up the steps of my brownstone, I decide that I've had it with that latter: I refuse to be one of those cats done in by his own curiosity.

Predictably, the ten-minute phone conversation with Jamie turns into a two-hour exchange. Connections are unearthed (we grew up visiting our maternal grandparents in Fort Lauderdale, who, it turns out, lived ten houses down from one another), common bonds are formed (we discover we both went through a hemp phase), jokes are made (about the hemp phase). Simply put, it is one of the most magical beginnings to a relationship anyone could want.

And the first date goes even better.

And, as planned, I do, indeed pull my profile.

And the second date goes even better than the first.

And more common ground is discovered, like the fact that I've been in her apartment before.


Hold on, rewind…

Say wha?

Okay, you recall in the first paragraph where I wrote, "for all intents and purposes, I met my fiancé online"? Well that sort of implied a twist, did it not? So let me explain.

It turns out that while Jamie and I didn't exactly know each other, per say, we knew of each other. And, curiously, I had her phone number in my address book for the last seven years. And, perhaps more curiously, she'd seen a photo of me in an album back at her mother's house in Pittsburgh.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'd briefly dated her sister seven years earlier, who, at the time, lived in the apartment Jamie would later take over. Though we were both living in New York, we never met. No, for that we'd need the Internet. And for that, I'd have to learn that the way to make the most of online dating is to use horse blinders when appropriate.

To this day I've never asked Jamie if she's taken down her profile. I've been too busy enjoying the relationship to care. So if you're conducting a search for single women through an online dating service, within three miles of zip code 10011, and happen to run across a girl who has "a special affinity for aerial photographs" and the guts to admit that she still, "occasionally sleeps with her baby blanket," don't bother hot-listing her. She's already got a date and is now busy putting together the guest list.


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