Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 17, 2009

Up-dating Your Dating Profile

Online dating. Is is even possible to date on the internet? Shouldn't it be called online set up? Online introduction? Whatever it is, this phenemenon is everywhere, and the pressure for singles to create and update a dating profile is mounting. After discussing this with my single friends in the years after college graduation, we vowed not to "go online" until we were desperate and in our thirties (neither of which go together!). And yet, less than five years out of college, a few of us put ourselves up for auction on dating sites: some Catholic, some secular, but all without success. Have our opinions about it changed? Yes and no.

My current thoughts? About the same prior to my venture online. I think that making a profile on a dating website is about the same as the use of instant messenger or text messaging to communicate. The question for the Christian is really "How often. how much, or to what degree will the use of technology detract from or enhance our interpersonal relationships and communication with others?" I really don't have the answer, but in my personal experience, the use of said technology is inhibiting my real connection with those I love and with the man that I hope to love.

Going online is no different from Facebook in the end. You make a "profile" of yourself, posting information about yourself, pictures, ways to contact you up for the world to see (or thankfully, a restricted world that you can select with privacy settings!). Is it really you? No, not at all. It is some sort of facade. Do I really communicate with friends by posting on their wall? No. It's just enough of a gesture to show that I noticed them or their new status or new pictures, but does not necessarily indicate that I have time or the desire for a full-fledged conversation (sorry, I digress). Is it the real me that I put online for auction? No. I try to be as true to myself as I am so that anyone who pokes or emails or whatever the specific term for contact is gets legitimate information, but it's not me. To get to know me you need time, patience, and a little chase. Hell, I need those things to get to know myself! The real me cannot be reduced to a two-dimensional screen. The real me has so many layers, including flaws, that emerge over time and need to be willingly accepted.

And so, for me, going online really isn't "putting yourself out there." It's creating possible opportnities for dating, but it's providing a facade that is inevitably going to be cracked when you go on the first date. It is a blind date, even if you have some sort of "idea" as to what your date's interests and goals are. But it lends itself to preconceived notions, which can lead to immediate disappointment if you were really holding out for them or expecting what you were led to expect.

As for Catholic-specific sites, I find it problematic that many ask you to rank loyalty to doctrine. If you are like me, you might be tempted to only go out with those who adhere to as many options as are listed. But aren't we also called to engage the world? Doesn't that include meeting and dating people who are not necessarily of the same mind? Isn't it more exciting to dialogue, to challenge, to discover similiarties and differences?

Of course these are just my opinions, from one who is still single after "going online" and meeting people through other people. There are expectations with both situations - when you are set up with someone who is thought to be a good "match." I don't know what the answer is. I do believe that God is not inhibited by anything, and that He is, if I may, the omnipotent and omniscient "yenta." If he wants to use a dot com to accomplish His will, then He will. My advice is to discern how, where, and to what degree God calls you to put yourself out there in the "dating game." I don't feel called to post a profile, but I readily ask friends if they know any good, single men, and I try to join groups with people who share my interests.

Continued prayers for my beautiful, single friends and those good, single men out there who remain hard to find (thanks, Flannery O'Connor!).

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