Hell: Pleasure before business
After a couple of years of online dating, I considered myself to be something of an expert.
For the most part the gentlemen I chose to meet turned out to be (surprise) fat, bald, sociopathic and broke ... but in and among them were also a good-lookin' hard-bodied Texas banker, an international arbitration expert based in Singapore (who flew me over, twice), a couple of physicians and fellow physicists, and one guy who described himself as a "millennial nomad" who ran a large company. That he also rode endurance horses and apparently enjoyed a host of activities I also held dear -- enjoying food and wine and backpacking and travel among them -- didn't hurt, either. And he was relatively local. After a couple of months of online flirtation, I invited him up to my ranch for dinner.
He wasn't any kind of fox, but he wasn't as fat as I had expected. Nor was he bald. And he had lovely blue eyes. And my kid liked him. We laughed a lot, and he was a good athlete even if he did cry watching "Titanic."
After a couple or three dates, we ended up in my loft watching it snow while a fire burned in the fireplace and Chateau Margaux spilled on the covers. I was astounded to find in him as big a libertine as I was. I mean the guy was fantastic, and his big old arms felt so good. Who woulda thunk it?
After a few months of intense intimacy, he hesitantly informed me that he had been tapped to head an international industrial concern. Should he accept the position and move to the other side of the country? Salary would be in the high six figures with oodles and oodles of first-class and private-jet travel. His first gig was the Paris air show -- would I come along?
He moved away. He traveled incessantly, living in planes and airports. They sent him to Moscow for six months. We had phone sex, airport sex, catch-as-catch-can sex as he passed through my side of the continent. We fielded thousand-dollar phone bills. A year passed. I fell further in love with every passing week and dreamed of the conclusion of his two-year contract when we could be together.
In the meantime, I developed a new technology I thought he should have a shot at and for the first time met him at his company's home office to show him the prospectus I had put together. A lovely weekend ensued. I flew home all dewy and full of renewed love.
A couple of weeks later my sister called to inform me that she had just returned from a symposium my beloved had hosted at which a co-worker mentioned that he had just returned from his honeymoon. His freaking honeymoon!!
I was confused. But not for long.
"I was going to tell you," he said.
Color me stupid. Color me gullible. Color me impressed.
I was so full of admiration for his astounding duplicity in being able to date me not only while carrying on an engagement, but also during the early months of a marriage, that I didn't really get mad.
I did, however, suggest that his new wife might appreciate a wedding present of a minority share in our venture. He coughed up.
That was almost three years ago. Today he is on my board of directors.
-- Name Withheld
Heaven: A sci-fi comic musical for two
In the summer of 1995, I was a recently divorced soldier and no longer hurting. She was divorced herself and fed up with trying to work around major incompatibilities. Within about a week of each other, we registered on the fledgling Match.com, and soon -- oh, happy day! -- she selected my profile.
Our hyper-liberal politics, our love of animals, technical bents and odd senses of humor meshed in a furious exchange of e-mails. Following a few hours-long phone calls, we made a date for the theater. As luck would have it, this strange and amazing woman lived close by. Appropriately enough, the local Shakespearean company was putting on a sci-fi comic musical, so what the heck?
I was already falling in love with her over the phone. As I was later to tell her, she didn't have to be beautiful too, but a beauty she is. She tells me that she knew I was honorable and kind the moment she saw me. More than anything else, we were as advertised; no games and no surprises (beyond the extent of her marvelous intellect).
We talked all night. About four in the morning, I asked to kiss her, and more kisses followed. Heaven! We couldn't say good night, and before the sun came up we were discussing marriage.
We're still honeymooning after six years of wedded bliss and often return to that theater. We're busy professionals with a house full of pets, and in a world stampeding toward chaos, we are happy, happy, happy. No arguments, no spite, nothing but love and respect.
Thanks, Internet. Frightening as the thought is, we would never have met without you.
-- John Simpson, Atlanta
Heaven: Bigger, better and headed for the border
This is going to be sappy. I am a huge advocate of online dating, not only because I met my partner there but also because I comprehend its potential for bringing people together who wouldn't normally meet.
My partner and I are a special case. We're both large men who prefer large men. The population for these individuals is plentiful, but it's not concentrated in any one area, specifically not in my area. Needless to say, I was searching for someone like me who would like me.
A certain Web site named BiggerCity is devoted to people with tastes such as mine. I filled out the personal ad form and waited for the responses. I noticed my partner had listed his personal information in the site's chat room. My interest was piqued, so I messaged him.
We found an instant rapport. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that he lives in Detroit, while I live in Alabama. This wasn't too much of a hindrance, since I wasn't looking to fall in love.
We had fun talking online and sometimes chatting on the phone. Mainly, our relationship consisted of random discussions familiarizing ourselves with each other. This was accomplished in much the same manner as it is by people who can actually date, but without the sexual requirements. Our tastes were varied but not enough to make either of us lose interest. We both like our red wine dry and our humor even drier. We met for the first time in March, after having talked since December of last year.
The halfway point was near Lexington, Ky., so we agreed to meet there, since he was familiar with the town. This was the beginning of a series of cross-country trips, huge long-distance phone bills, and nervous conversations about the future. Being two halves of the same spirit, as they say, we found/find each other irresistible.
He proposed to me in October, in the middle of the forest behind a cider mill in Michigan, surrounded by gusty breezes and golden trees. Although we have no current plans for marriage due to the current political climate, it is an inevitability.
I hear Canada is nice this time of year.
-- Joseph, Oak Park, Mich.
Hell: Southern comfort -- not!
I tried online dating a few years ago, bored and thoroughly befuddled by my options. I'm an Asian male in a large Southern city, the operative word being "Southern." Though outright racism is (hopefully) a thing of the past, especially when dealing with a supposedly more sophisticated urban population, I noticed something peculiar while trying to find my match. Even though I wrote and rewrote an open and witty profile, test-marketing it to various women whose opinions I trusted, and posting my best, smilingest picture, no one read my profile.
My hit count was lower than the ones on Mariah Careys latest CD.
After delving a little further, I saw why: Very few women (even Asian) chose "Asian" as the race of their desired match. (Interestingly enough, almost all "males seeking females" indicated that Asian was preferable, regardless of their own race.)
As an experiment, I looked at other cities with large Asian populations and saw a greater openness there. Alas, I was stuck with the hand dealt me.
My experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe I'll try again to find a match online, maybe not. Until then, I'll be stuck in purgatory.
-- Ivan Sian, Atlanta