The Wacky World of Online Dating

Stephanie Powers

Finding a Latin man the old-fashioned way wasn't working out, so I logged on for love—and kept a journal of every juicy detalle.

It's Saturday night and I'm alone because all my amigas are out on dates. One of them is celebrating her one-month anniversary with a guy she met online. Hey, if it worked for her, maybe it can work for me. I look at my laptop and decide it's time.


I want to date a Latino, so I search for "Latino dating Web site," and voilá: I find I scroll through the pictures of the guys and laugh at some of their handles (their online nicknames), like HotLatinFun and Chinitopapito. But I realize that despite the names of these sites, they're open to all ethnicities. I might as well join the site with the most members——and just make it clear that I'm only interested in Latinos.


I'm shocked that costs $33 for a one-month membership. But it's either pay up or spend another Saturday night watching videos on Mun2. So I enter my credit card information and start thinking of a handle. Eventually, I settle on MarieSaysHi. Next I fill out my personality profile—ethnicity (Puerto Rican), smoking habits (no), and turn-ons ("wouldn't you like to know?"). As if that wasn't enough, now I have to write an 800-word essay about myself. Some 55 minutes later, it's the moment of truth: Do I post a picture of myself and risk my ex-novio coming across it? Finally, I decide: no photo. I hit "submit," and my profile is sent out for approval. Oye, pero that was a lot of work! I shut my laptop and get into bed.


When I check my profile page, a guy has sent me a photo of himself wearing the biggest straw sombrero ever. Under it is a little smiley face that winks. Señor Sombrero says he's a Latino in his mid-20s and a med student—¡Órale!—but divorced. Hmmm...maybe it was one of those quickie Vegas things. I click the "wink back" button.


Nothing new except an e-mail from Señor Sombrero filled with the standard questions: What do you do? Do you live in the city? It's like a first date, only I can stop talking to him whenever I feel like it.


I'm completely obsessed with checking my profile. I log on from work, home, even cafés. There's a scorecard in the upper right-hand corner that tracks how many people have clicked on my profile (30 as of today) and how many have contacted me either by wink or by e-mailing me through (so far, it's still just Señor Sombrero). I'm hurt. At least at a bar, you don't know how many guys are passing you up—on, it's all up in your face in bright-pink numbers.


I gotta step this thing up. Last night I winked at four guapitos; no one has winked back at me. And then I realize...I only wink at guys with photos. I need a photo! Screw my ex.


Later that day...
Aha! A photo does make a difference. One of the guys I winked at has just sent me an e-mail. He has curly brown hair and a ripped body—buenísimo! He says he's newly single. Does that mean widowed? Divorced? Girlfriend just away for the weekend?


Señor Sombrero hasn't written me back, but I'm over it because I've spent all day e-mailing with the newly soltero dominicano Joe. After a few long e-mails, I felt comfortable enough to swap personal e-mail addresses, real names and cell phone numbers.


Joe calls. For eight long minutes, we talk about our jobs and (for some reason) his lunchtime workout. At the first awkward silence, I panic and say, "Okay, gotta run now." He says, "Okay, call me whenever." Um...okay.


I'm so over this computer-flirting with cartoon faces. ¡Basta! I dial Joe's number and thank God when his voice mail picks up. I leave a message asking if he wants to meet for a drink later. He text-messages me back: "Have plans later tonight, can do right after work." No—I was going to say I had plans later tonight! He just took out an insurance policy on me—you always tell your date you've got plans later so you can bail in case of a U-G-L-Y emergency.


After work...
We meet outside the bar and—he's short. I'm wearing tacones and he can barely clear my 5-foot-6 frame. Inside, the hostess asks if we want dinner, and before I can answer yes, Joe snaps, "Just drinks." Qué galán...


An hour later...
"So I had to buy this apartment. I mean, it's got two fireplaces," he says. I smile, bored. "So," he continues, sipping a vodka tonic. "Why are you on Match?" I'm about to give him my prepared excuse—my friend made me join with her—when he interrupts, "'Cause every girl I meet says her friend made her do it." Damn!
"Nope," I say. "But you are my first Match date."
"Really? I dated the last girl I met on Match for a year. She's actually dating my best friend now."
We start laughing, swapping love horror stories, having a great time—then I catch him peeking at his watch. I grab the passing waitress. "Can we get the check?"
He says, "This was nice. I'll call you sometime next week." Liar.


Señor Sombrero sent me an e-mail. He claims he lost my address. Just as I start to write back, I realize that doesn't make any sense. You can always e-mail a person through their profile page. Delete.


DAY 10
Okay, Joe isn't a liar. He called and wants to meet up again. But I don't. There are things you just can't get online. I knew Joe was Latino, Catholic and a nonsmoker—but those are just facts, not feelings. A profile can't replace that initial attraction between two people, that first physical spark. It's that kind of connection that makes me want to go out on a date. Not his job, religion or favorite movie. This weekend, I think I'll hit a club and see who winks at me for real.

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