Anne Lamott is an amazing writer. I was first turned on to her by Ali Basye, and later by Merlin Mann. Her book, Bird by Bird, is an amazing tool to become a better writer, and her voice is so delightful and funny. She recently wrote an article for Salon about her year on Match.com, and you should all go read it now. (OK, you can finish this post first IF YOU MUST, haha.)
She’s insanely skilled (as most great writers and observers are) at reading between the lines and boiling things down to a few ironic truths (all emphasis mine):
On religious views, and that ephemeral “spiritual but not religious” check box:
Curiously, almost without exception, they were “spiritual but not religious.” I thought for a while that this meant ecumenical, drawn to Rumi, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver. But I have come to learn that this means they think of themselves as friendly. They are “glass half-full kind of people.” That’s very nice. They like to think that they are “closest to Buddhism,” and “open to the magic that is all around us.” They are “people-people.” They are “open-minded and welcome all viewpoints.” They are rarely seeking religious nuts like myself — rather, they are seeking open, non-judgmental women.
On self-identifying on the alcohol consumption spectrum:
They mentioned that they drank moderately, or never, or socially (the most you can admit to. There is no way to check for “drinks alcoholically”).
On following up with people frankly and honestly after a date, especially over email:
My pointing this out politely in an email the next day did not sit well.
On self-identifying as “middle of the road” on the political spectrum:
He said he believed in courtesy and friendliness. OK, I’ll bite. The only iffy answer on his questionnaire was that he was “middle of the road.”
I dropped him a line.
He wrote back 15 minutes later. “Your politics are abhorrent to me.”
I loved that. “Middle of the road” almost always means conservative, I promise. It means the person is Tea Party but would consent to getting laid by a not-hysterical liberal, which rules me out.
On the reality that chemistry is more than an 89% algorithmic matching:
We went out four times in rapid succession, for coffee, lunches, a hike. We had chemistry, laughed a lot, sent lots of emails. But we didn’t touch. I thought, in my mature and/or delusional way, that this would come, but it didn’t. I made a few practice casual touches, but he didn’t respond.
But please; lest you think that you don’t have to read the entire article because I’ve quoted it out for you, well, I haven’t. Not entirely. So please go read it.
Spoilers, in case you didn’t go read it: Anne’s story basically ends with her never quite finding the right match, but having an overall not-too-objectionable time flexing her dating muscles and learning how to evaluate what makes someone a great partner. Sometimes, folks, you have to go through a year of that before God/The Universe/coincidence/OKCupid/____(insert your answer here) sends you a breakthrough, ya know? Sometimes online dating just for the practice is exactly what you need. ♥