“Someone out there is waiting for you!” “Find the person of your dreams.” You see a photo of a happy, smiling couple and their testimonial to how Acme Cyber Date brought them together, resulting in their marriage and ultimate bliss. For only $19.95 a month, you can meet the person of your dreams.

Yeah, right! I don’t know anyone who has been married for more than a month that can say they have achieved their “ultimate bliss,” and all too often the dreams become nightmares. But setting aside the fact that most people don’t know how to make a relationship work, or that women really are from Venus and men from Mars, we all have our moments of wishful thinking and the optimism of, “it can happen to me.”

If you have not succumbed to the temptation of checking out a matchmaking site, but have thought about it, been curious, or just bored and want some fun, this could be your next source of entertainment. I know a number people, married and single, who peruse the personal ads. All you need is a healthy perspective, an open mind, and awareness that what you see is probably not what you get.

My experiences began when I got an email from a married friend of mine who frequently scans the personals. He claims he is trying to find someone for me. He wrote, “Check this one out. She’s as weird as you are.” I did. And she was – which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

After almost two years of being curious I signed up for a one-week free-trial membership on one of the “major” matchmaking services and actually found someone interesting. We met. She was wonderful -- attractive, smart, sexy, successful, and fun. She was also not interested in me (probably because she was smart). My one-week trial ended.

Okay, time to get serious. I checked out a few other services and finally committed myself to a one-month membership fee. This time I decided that, since I wasn’t placing an ad, I would skip the profile questions about myself. I approached it like subscribing to a newspaper. I wanted to read the paper, but I didn’t want the paper contacting me.

I set out by specifying my search criteria: No smoking, no kids at home, no trolls, etc. There were only two personals within a 25mile radius of where I lived that appealed to me. I contacted one, rather than both of them, because I know my limitations. I composed a rather lengthy, complementary email and within an hour I had a polite rejection. Hmmmm…. What did I say wrong? I knew I should have paid more attention in those marketing classes.

Undaunted, I contacted the woman behind door #2. This time I refined my marketing strategy and wrote:

" I keep seeing your photo as I peruse the personals (I'm a new member as of today) and your photo and self description both make me smile. In fact, you are the only one I've found in my searching that did make me smile. I love to smile, so thank you! I'm not looking for a wife - just someone with whom to have fun and to make me smile.”

I referred her to my web site for all the profile information she would ever need, and then I waited. About an hour later (Obviously these women don’t have lives either) I got the following reply:

“I don't understand responding to people if you are " outside your criteria range". The profile attached to your email states no answer to the marital status, guessing you are married or you'd have an answer.”

Yikes… I’d contacted a piranha. What had I done to set her off? I did some research and discovered that, since I had not filled out a profile, the matchmaking service had sent her one anyway, accompanying my email. On it was the question of marital status and that I had “no answer.” She had made the assumption that I was married and trolling for diversions. I also realized she had been on the matchmaker service way too long, had gotten a lot of trollers, and was going through her ad responses the way I eat peanuts.

I wrote her back, apologized, gave her a brief profile (since she was too busy to check mine on my web site) and added that, “I like people who don’t jump to conclusions.” I was hoping to hear from her again so that I could say she had already revealed her true nature and we were not compatible, but I didn’t get that satisfaction. I have a long history of that with women.

I then signed up for a cyber-dating service that required I take a 100-question test to evaluate me and create a profile. This was good. It would do the profile for me. I only signed up so that I could take the test and get my profile, and then I cancelled my account. I gave my age as 92, but I answered all of the other questions honestly. My resulting profile said:

"Upstanding, selfless, gentle. To all those girls out there who like nice guys, you're the perfect man. To everyone else, you're an amusing dweeb. Therefore, you are probably single.

Let us let you in on a little secret--you might have problems now, but once you get older and girls have grown tired of jerks and gigolos, you'll be a hot ticket. Take solace in this fact, if you haven't already found your pink princess. Either way, you need to get more practice in the sack, or your special someone will leave you for the pizza-boy.

You're a guy who's not afraid of commitment or self-sacrifice, but don't let people walk all over you. Hang on to yourself. It's quite possible you'll lose your heart to someone more selfish--she'll take and take and take, and one day you'll find all that's left is your skeleton and a few toenails."

Should I be pleased or upset with this profile? I did like the part where it said, "once you get older...", but just how old do I have to get? Perhaps I need to have "more practice."

Before canceling my account I clicked on the matchmaker feature to see whom it was selecting for my match. There were quite a number of matches. The oldest was 26 and most were around 22. I'm not complaining, but if all of these women knew that they were being matched with a 92 year-old man, they might be upset with their cyber dating service. I guess I should not take my profile too seriously. If the women do… hey, it’s their loss.

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NOTE: After putting this story on my web site, I got an email from Kristi and Thomas Renner who claim they met on and have been blissfully married now for two years. Okay Kristi, I believe you. It can happen. But then people win the lottery too. (See Kristi and Thomas below...)