Q: My online dating profile clearly indicates that I’m a vegan.
A woman I’ve been communicating with informed me that she eats a healthy diet, but enjoys meat and fish.
Fine with me, but our first phone conversation became an inquisition about whether I would attempt to make her a vegetarian. She compared it to trying to convert someone to another religion. She got intense about it, despite my insistence that I don’t proselytize. I finally conceded a belief that vegans are more evolved from a spiritual standpoint. She really went off about this, insisting that she wasn’t about to let anybody change her. Most amazingly, this happened after numerous pleasant e-mails.
A: We all have certain things that really push our buttons. Apparently, for this woman, it’s that horrible, racist, sexist, in-your-face statement, “Hi, how are you?” You lucked out. This woman’s obviously out of her ground-beef-filled gourd. There’s a perfect time to discover that, and it’s before the first date. The thing is, she may actually be on to something — albeit in a somewhat shrewishly hysterical way. Here you are, presenting yourself as this easygoing sprout-muncher who manages to maintain a live-and-let … murder small defenseless animals attitude. But, do you really? Like a lot of people hoping to maximize their dating possibilities, you try to be “open-minded,” but how realistic is it to tell yourself you can be with a woman you’ll kiss, then think, “Eeeuw, I can still taste that murdered cow”?
Come on…you aren’t a vegan because you think clumps of seitan (boiled wheat gluten) taste so much better than pork chops. In fact, with a bit of prodding, you admit to feeling morally superior to us flesh-chomping barbarians.
(Moral superiority — always such a successful basis for a relationship.) Now, it’s possible that you’re The Stepford Vegan, able to sit placidly as a woman tears apart a live goat with her sharpened incisors. But, my guess is, it’s only a matter of time until you look across the table at a girlfriend really enjoying herself as she swallows the last morsel of some dead animal, and go off on her: “Hey, I think you missed the dog! Want me to take his collar off so he’s easier to chew?” “Opposites attract” sounds good, but really only applies if you’re two magnets trying to get together. For a relationship to work out, you have to be with somebody you respect, but not only that, somebody you actually admire. You can have differences, but you basically have to be excited about who they are, what they believe, and how they live. Painting yourself as tolerant and casting a wide net is a great idea — if you’re a generic person who “enjoys great wine, great food, and great conversation.” Are there five people on the planet who don’t?
To find a person you’re compatible with, be honest about your dealbreakers (“must love dogs, but not braised, with a side of spring vegetables”). You might even restrict your online dating forays to a vegetarian personals site like VeggieDate.org. Just think, no more trying to forget that a date’s wallet once roamed the tall grasses as part of a cow! She’ll be right there with you in enjoying meatless fine dining, and then, on to McDonald’s. No, not for a real meal, but for a moment of emotional bonding — weeping and hugging as you watch a kid in the window chowing down on a Happy Meal.
Q: I’m trying Internet dating, and a friend said I’d have better results on a site with a membership fee. With so many free sites, why would anyone ever pay?
A: The word “free” turns reasonably intelligent people into zonked-out morons. Tell people you’re giving away free tacos (actual worth: 35 cents including labor) and they’ll line up in the heat for an hour to get one. Offer them $1.35 to stand in a hot line for an hour, and they’ll scowl and flip you off. There are good people on free dating sites. They’re just crowded in among all the people who aren’t seriously looking, but, hey, as long as it’s free, they’ll throw up a pic, kick back, and check their inbox when they’re done swimming with the turtles in Galapagos. Sites with monthly membership fees, whether they’re $50 or $15.99, draw those who are more serious about finding somebody, and give them incentive to hop to it. People say the best things in life -- love, friendship, moonlight -- are free, but so are the worst things: lymphoma, a really big overbite, and roadkill. If you’re in any sort of hurry to get to the good stuff, it probably behooves you to pay the sorting costs.
© 2009 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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