Yesterday, I detailed one woman's success with eHarmony. It's a controversial subject because apparently results vary widely; this woman's own sister tried the service and ended up disappointed.
I asked the satisfied woman, who met her fiance through eHarmony, why she thought the outcomes were so different for her and her sister.
She explained, "I'm happy by myself and with myself. When you have that, men are attracted to you. My sister was coming from a place of lack -- 'I have to find a man.' She's negative and needy. It turns people off."
Okay, I can see why her sister turned men off, but it didn't explain why perfectly attractive, seemingly happy women end up getting a series of lackluster matches from online dating services.
If you've been reading me for a while, you know that I believe in my soul that happiness and self-esteem are crucial in attracting the right man -- and in recognizing the bad ones in an instant.
But I'm baffled when women who have these qualities put themselves online, only to net one rotten fish after another.
And then I remembered my own similar experience.
After I'd decided I'd finished dating losers, schmoozers, and No-Show Joes, I placed my first and only personal ad. I kept it short and to the point: "Sincere, loyal, fun woman looking for sincere, loyal, fun man for possible relationship."
I got lots of responses. I met each of the respondents for drinks in the TGIF near my office in Manhattan. Most of the guys seemed nice enough (except the dude who asked why I was desperate enough to place a personal ad, begging me to ask why he'd been desperate enough to answer it). But none of them rated a second date.
I started to get discouraged.
Then I remembered something I'd read in one of the numerous self-help books I devoured at the time, something to the effect of what writer Somerset Maugham once said, "It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."
I'd read that if you put what you want "out there," the universe would respond. And if you refused to take less than what you wanted, the universe would do better.
After meeting a series of these Mr. Not-For-Mes, I made the decision not to date again until someone worth dating showed himself. In the meantime, I kept visualizing the right relationship, feeling it, acting "as if." I continued getting out of the house and meeting my friends. At that point I had no expectation of meeting anybody, but the relationship remained alive in my head.
After a while, the sister-in-law of a friend started bringing her brother around. The guy was good-looking, fun-oriented, success-minded. The sister-in-law suggested I go out with him. "He'll treat you like gold," she said. At that point, I was ready to date someone who would treat me like gold.
And he did.
At first I was crazy about him. We had fun and shared some similar interests. After a few months together, though, he exaggerated to friends the details of a situation I'd witnessed, and I lost respect for him. I fell into a funk about it; my "perfect" relationship had come to nothing. But, driving home one night, I had the eery (and accurate) feeling that the relationship was a dress rehearsal for something much bigger.
I broke up with him. I continued visualizing, affirming, the whole bit. Even though I didn't have any concrete reason to continue doing any of it, I felt something shifting. I knew that what I was looking for was also looking for me.
And that's when it found me.
I didn't meet my husband through the personal ad. I met him in a bar (no, he's not an alcoholic; he doesn't even drink). I wasn't scoping the place for talent when I met him; I was pretty much minding my own business, sitting with friends I wanted to spend time with.
If Internet dating hasn't paid off for you, it may be the vibe you're giving off, or it may not. If you're happy, confident, and --this is critical --clear about wanting a relationship, and you still haven't met the right guy, I believe in my soul that you will meet him eventually.
I believe he's out there.
It may be while you're waiting on line at the post office. It may be in a bar. It may be in the gift shop at a hospital. But I believe that you will meet him.
In the end, though, it doesn't really matter what I believe. What matters is what you believe.
What do you believe?