My fiance and I met online.
There. I said it. I'll say it proudly and openly to anyone who asks but I wasn't at all comfortable with on-line dating when I started six years ago. I was moving to the DC area for my first call as a pastor. I knew I wanted to live life with a family and I didn't know how else I'd meet someone. I set up my match.com profile with my brother vetoing particularly generic/pathetic lines (he nixed my initial profile name, "the purple turtle," saying I sounded like a 7th grader who believes in unicorns). My sister-in-law cheered me on, getting so into it that she wished she could do it too. M, I said, you married your high school sweetheart; we're all on here because we want what you've got.
At first, I was terrified of people finding out I was online dating. I quickly went from match.com to eharmony (a more private site) because I didn't want anyone to find me. Of course, what I actually wanted was someone to find me, so that was counter-productive. I was ashamed that I had sunk to online dating. It felt desperate.
Despite my shame, I kept at it. I devised the term "inquiry coffee" instead of first date - took the pressure off. I realized that if I were in it for the long haul, I'd better develop a thick skin and a good dose of humor. I laughed off the person who lied and added seven years to his age because he likes older women; or the person who, after reading that the environment was important to me responded with "let's go burn some fossil fuels." Huh?
After many months and gallons of inquiry coffee, I got serious with someone I was with for a few years. But when that ended...
I hated having to go back on there, but even more, I hated walking through my life lonely and powerless hoping to bump into prince charming at the grocery store. So, the last time around, I did more than just online dating. I also got bold about asking friends for help. They responded with care. One couple arranged a dinner with their single friends so we could all meet. One set me up with a date. Ultimately, none of those people worked out, but having a network of support took the edge off and gave me hope.
Here's the full story of how I my fiance: It started with someone on my frisbee team. Over time, he'd piqued my interest. A few years ago, in an uncharacteristic fit of boldness I emailed and confessed I was curious:
"I am not practiced at dipping my toes in the water, so please excuse me if this is waaay off base - or if your wife or child or girlfriend is looking over your shoulder and laughing! Or if you are gay (I can never tell!) or just otherwise uninterested. I don't really know how to do this, but seemed worth exploring."
He had a girlfriend, but he was very kind in his response. A year later, I went back on match.com and his profile was the first that popped up. I emailed him immediately and found out that he was already seeing someone (note to self: if he hadn't thought to ask me out on his own, he wasn't interested). But still he was friendly and kind.
So I mustered courage and asked him for advice. He looked over my profile and sent me a page of feedback. He told me to get onto OKCupid (no, I'm not being paid for this endorsement!). He also said he'd keep an eye out for someone "awesome to introduce me to." But the most important thing he wrote was about the fact that I'm a pastor:
"...for the right person it will be an awesome thing."
My identity as a pastor had felt like an enormous amount of baggage, but these words made me realize I just hadn't found the right person yet.
I took all his advice and within a couple of weeks, a goofy, musical, fun-loving, caring, progressive baptist minister-turned-theology professor emailed me. He was the right person. The rest is history in the making.
Despite the statistic that an estimated 20-35% of marriages in the US in the last 5 years started online, it still has an underground, dirty feeling.
That's why my fiancee and I claim it proudly - to take away the shame and give other people hope. We met online, thank God! And I mean that. We would not have met otherwise and we're so glad we did.
matchmaker, matchmaker...la la la,