I Just Need Someone To Love

I’m trying something new for my dating site blurb. Instead of saying that I like to eat vegetarian food and sushi, and that I enjoy yoga, hiking, long walks, and board games, I thought I’d try something different. So here it is. I’ll probably change it back tomorrow.

I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends [1]

While this is true, and I am extremely grateful for my friends, I want something more.

I want somebody to love
I just need someone to love [1]

I see a lot of profiles that say something like this:

I am happy with my life, and I don’t need a romantic relationship. But, it would be a nice addition.

They say that a romantic relationship would be “dessert” or “icing on the cake” or “the cherry on top”. I don’t feel that way. For me, a romantic relationship, or what I’d prefer to call a primary relationship, is not dessert; it’s the main course. I want a partner who also wants a main course, who won’t think of me as dessert. I want to be the priority in her life, as she will be in mine. Friends, relatives, kids, they all have (or will have) their own families to keep them busy, who are their priorities. My partner is the person who will stand by my side through the remainder of my life, the person who will be there for me whenever I need her, the person who will always be available when I need to talk, the person who will pick me up if I fall. She will be my soft place to land. And I will be all these things for her.

Even though it’s likely been torn out and trampled on many times, as has mine, the partner I am looking for will be brave enough to wear her heart out on her sleeve, as I will with mine. She knows that it’s a big risk, but the potential payoff is what will make life worthwhile.

When we find each other, we will both want to say this:

You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you [2]

[1] Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
[2] Lyrics by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio


Curiosity Killed The Cat


OKCupid is one of the “free” dating sites. Most members don’t pay to join, however, it offers certain perks if you do pay. One of the perks is the ability to change your profile name. Another perk is the ability to see who “likes” your profile. There are other perks, such as the ability to browse invisibly–they call this “going incognito”–but I don’t care about those.

I was not completely happy with my screen name, “Philly-to-OC”. It represents the city where I grew up and the county where I now reside. But it doesn’t say anything about me. Plus, it’s not a really manly name. A filly is a female horse, and “philly” sounds like “filly”.

The cost for a month’s worth of premium membership, or as they call it, “A-List”, is $19.95. Not a huge amount of money, and something I can certainly afford. But I refused to do it because of the principle. And it doesn’t seem like a good value.

The issue of the “likes” is another story. Every so often, I could get an email saying (and I paraphrase), “Someone new likes you. We can’t tell you who it was, because you didn’t pay. Na na na na na!” Of course, they are trying to manipulate me into paying.

Today, I got one of those emails. “Someone likes you! You now have 29 likes. And we won’t tell you who they are, because you are not A-List. But, if you take advantage of our offer, which expires at midnight tonight, you can upgrade to A-list at 20% off!”

A dilemma. First of all, does it really matter who liked my profile? I’ve already hidden all the potential matches that would show up in my search results. Whoever liked me, I must have already decided she was not a match and hidden her profile. But the curiosity was still there. And I can change my profile name. And save four dollars!

Well, I couldn’t take the suspense anymore. I got out my credit card and upgraded to A-List. And TA-DA! The forbidden fruit of hidden “likes” was exposed.

The most recent “like” was from March 31 of this year. Her profile name indicates that she likes Corvettes and she lives in Camas, Washington. So she wouldn’t have shown up in any of my searches–too far. I read her profile, and apparently, she doesn’t drive a Corvette anymore. Traded it in for a Hummer. In any case, not a match for me. Why did she “like” my profile? Nice photo of her, though, standing next to Donald Trump. Or is it a cardboard cutout. Doesn’t really matter.

Next is someone actually from Orange County, Anaheim. I’ve seen this profile before. 98% match, and she answered 530 questions. So I did what I always do when I see a high percentage match. I looked at the “Unacceptable answers”. First one: She’d rather go dancing than play Scrabble. Maybe that’s not a deal breaker. Next one: She likes to go camping. Again, not something I like to do, but not a deal breaker. I went through several pages of her unacceptable answers. There were 17 pages of them, and 10 unacceptables per page, for a total of 170 unacceptable answers.

“When texting with a potential partner, is use of proper grammar and spelling important to you?”

She said “No” and I said “Yes”. My “Yes” answer was unacceptable to her. I’m guessing it’s not a deal breaker for her.

As I looked through the 17 pages of unacceptables, I noticed that almost all of them were my answers being unacceptable to her. (There are two kind of unacceptable.) Wow, someone who is more selective than I am! Here are some examples.

It’s unacceptable to her that:
1. I need a great deal of alone time.
2. I keep a budget of my finances.
3. I would dump her if she cheated on me.
4. I don’t believe we’ve had past lives.
5. I like Thai food.
6. I don’t eat in bed.
7. I completed graduate school.
8. I am Jewish.

OK, if #7 is not a deal breaker, then certainly #8 is. But why did she like my profile? I don’t really care to find out. I don’t like her photo anyway.

On to more of the women who “liked” me. Number 3 lives in Canada. Number 4 in Oak Park, CA. I don’t even know where that is. Number 5 is 34 years old and lives in Jackson MS. Number 7 is someone who previously contacted me and we’ve become only online friends because she lives too far. Number 8, New Jersey. Number 9, La Jolla. Number 10, Portugal! And so on up to number 29, who lives in San Clemente, CA and is a 97% match/15% enemy.

Wait a minute! This one might actually be a match and doesn’t live that far. But, the list is ordered by the date of the “like”, and San Clemente liked me on June 19, 2010. That’s a long time ago! Almost six years. She does have nice photos. Let’s see how many questions she answered. 282. And I have not hidden her. But she doesn’t show up in my search. Must be the “logged in within the last year” condition. Well, if she hasn’t logged in for a year (or six), then she’s not checking her messages. Wait, what’s this? I can check when she last logged in. April 18, 2015. Well, that’s almost a year ago. But why doesn’t she show up in my search? What’s missing?

Non-smoker? Check. Single? Check. Less than 5’9”? Check. Logged in within the last year? Check (barely). College? Aha! She didn’t answer the question about education. Must not have gone to college. But she liked me, and her profile looks OK.

Can I email her six years after she liked my profile? What will she think? Anyway, she wouldn’t see my email if she hasn’t logged in for almost a year. But, I’m still curious.

On to her unacceptable answers. Nine pages of them, at ten per page, means 90 unacceptable answers. I’m up to page 4, and so far no deal breakers. Next question:

“Are you a Christian”?

My answer is “No”, and that’s unacceptable for her. Again, why did she “like” my profile? She must have done that before she read it and found out that I’m not a Christian.

Enough of that. Time to change my profile name. What’s a good name? This is not an easy decision. Let’s get some help from Google. Google, what’s a good dating site username? Surprisingly, there are lots of sites with suggestions. There is even one that asks you questions and then generates a list of possible names. I gave it a try.

What’s your name? Steven
What do you like? Sushi
What are your hobbies? Yoga
What things do you like? Board games


Thirty names generated! GamesSteven. GamesSushi. Sushigh. Gamesgi. StevenSuave. Sushinger. BoardYoga. StevenSushi. Sigh! I don’t like any of them.

New idea. I’ll post a status on Facebook asking my friends to come up with a name for me. I’m sure they’ll think of something. They know me. What would my friends say about me? They’d probably say I’m kind. And fun. And smart. Eureka! I thought of a new name: smart-and-fun.

I immediately went on to OKCupid and changed my name from “Philly-to-OC” to “smart-and-fun”. Cool. Happy. $15.95 well spent!

Next, I had to change my name on Match.com as well. Because my two usernames have to be the same.

Login to Match. Go to name changing place. Type “smart-and-fun”. Click Save.

The username you entered is invalid. Remember to use only letters, numbers, and underscores in your username.

No problem. I can use underscores instead of dashes. With a little editing my new username on Match is now “smart_and_fun”.

Of course, now I have to go back to OKCupid and change my name there from “smart-and-fun” to “smart_and_fun”. Because the two name have to match exactly. Because OCD.

Login to OKCupid. Go to name changing place. Type “smart_and_….” Wait a minute. I can’t type. It’s read-only. And there is a little message for me:

“You can change your username again May 15”

I can’t change my username again until the day after my 30-day membership expires. No!!!!!

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Car


[Reposting my first blog post, from January 23, 2016.]

I was divorced in August 2005. Since then I’ve been (almost) relentlessly trying to find my life partner. I say almost, because there have been multiple times when I said “I’m done!” but usually that only lasts a few days, and in the worst case, a few months.

People have told me that I’m too particular. Lately I’ve been using OKCupid, which gives a percentage match with each profile, based on questions we’ve both answered. I’ve found that even if someone is a 99% match, and we’ve answered 4000 questions in common, there is always something that is a dealbreaker. I look at the “unacceptable answers,” and usually it only takes a few seconds until I find a disqualifying answer. Maybe she doesn’t date Jews. Maybe she sleeps with her pet on the bed. Maybe she won’t date someone who needs alone time. Maybe she’s a racist. Maybe spelling mistakes and bad grammar *don’t* annoy her (the horror!). This search is time consuming, often depressing, and frustrating.

I thought about my friend, Paula, who recently bought a new car. She decided what car she wanted, what features she needed, called a car broker, and voila, a few days later, a shiny new car that was exactly what she wanted appeared in her driveway! And this made me think: Why can’t searching for a partner be as easy as shopping for a car? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Then I realized, if buying a car were like selecting a partner, I would be carless. Now, I have a car, and I really like it. It’s a 2006 Toyota RAV4 V-6. It has almost all the features I want. It has lots of space inside, it’s reliable, it has good acceleration, it’s compact and easy to drive and park, it looks nice, and it gets decent gas mileage. It’s a good car.

Now, here’s why I would be carless. There could be a better car. I haven’t found it yet, but here’s what it would be like.

First, it would have all the features I like in the RAV4. But, the RAV4 isn’t perfect; it lets in a lot of road noise on the freeway, and makes it hard to hear the radio. The Lexus RX is awesomely quiet. But, it’s too expensive. I can’t afford it. Unacceptable. Block that profile.

The RAV4 also only gets decent gas mileage. What would be awesome would be an electric car. Doesn’t use gas at all. The Nissan Leaf is electric. Nice car, but it only has a range of about 100 miles. Unacceptable. Hide that profile.

The Tesla is an electric car, and it has a range of 300 miles. Awesome! But, it’s even more expensive than the Lexus. Unacceptable. This is frustrating. I’m done! Shut down my dating profile.

The only way I could have a car is if I wait until “they” come out with a car that has all the features of the RAV4, is as quiet as the Lexus, runs on electricity, has a range of over 300 miles, and is in my price range. I’ll just wait until I find “the one.”

But, I have to drive, so I have my car. And it’s served me well. I fill it up, try to drive in a style that conserves gas, and turn up the radio a little louder when I’m on the freeway. As it’s aged, it’s developed some rattles and squeaks. I don’t mind. They add a bit of charm. Maybe they make me like it more. I’ve grown attached to it. I might even say I love my car.

Book Review: Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating

One of the side benefits of online dating is that it is a good source for finding interesting reading material. Some of the sites ask the question, “What was the last book you read?” Of course, I have to weed through a lot of answers that are “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Eat Pray Love”, until I occasionally find something that interests me. Most of the time, these books will go onto my Amazon private wish list, because I have a long list of books that I’ve started and would like to finish, before I start a new one.

About a month ago, I came across a profile on eHarmony that mentioned a book called, “Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Economics I Learned From Online Dating”. This book went straight to my “Download Free Sample” list on Amazon. After I finished reading the free sample the same day, in one sitting, I knew I would be purchasing this book.

I purchased the book on February 26, and I finished it today (March 12), just over two weeks later. That is very good for me, even for a 256 page book.

I enjoyed reading most of the book. Technically, it’s a book about economics for the layman, using online dating as a teaching aid. But, a good portion of the book discusses online dating, and that is the part that interests me the most. I’ve just reached my ten year anniversary with the dating sites, having created my JDate, Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, and POF profiles back in 2006. So this is a topic that I can really relate to!

The author is Paul Oyer, an economics professor at Stanford, who suddenly found himself fortysomething and single in 2010. When he started dating after many years of marriage, he realized that Internet dating seemed to follow the laws of economics, so he started taking notes, which eventually became this book.

Since my primary goal for this book review is to entertain, as is my goal for my entire blog, I will pick out parts of the book that I found most entertaining, and share those with you. I will also write about how parts of the book relate to me, because I like to blog about myself.

The author mentions that he had a regular place where he met potential dates. It was a coffee shop called “Cafe Borrone”. I liked this. I also have a regular place: Starbucks.

The author discusses how the process of finding a partner is a specific example of search theory. For those of you who think the process of finding your soulmate on a dating site is not unromantic enough, consider this. Let’s assume there is a soulmate for you, out there in the sample of people of the appropriate sex who are age appropriate and not already married. He estimates that there are 200 million such potential partners on the planet. With some simple math, he concludes that the probability of finding your soulmate is 50%, assuming you have two meetings with potential partners a day, every day for the next 250,000 years!

OK, now that we’ve established that for all practical purposes it’s impossible to find your soulmate, you’ll have to settle for the best you can do, which is to find the best one available, given the limited amount of time and effort you can reasonably expend in the search. The key is knowing when to stop, when you’ve found “the one who is good enough”. See what I mean by unromantic?

Every minute spent looking for a potential partner is time that might otherwise be spent doing something enjoyable or useful, such as reading a good book, socializing with friends, or, in the author’s case, writing this book. But, there is a potential future payoff for looking at one more profile, because that profile might just be the one who is good enough. He says you’ll know you’ve found the one who is good enough when you can say, “My partner is truly wonderful. If I kept looking, I could probably do better. But I have to earn a living, make dinner, practice the piano, and do a bunch of other stuff. So I’m going to settle for this person and move on with life. It could certainly be a lot worse.”

Another point that I identify with in this stage of my life–I am 54–is that as we get older, we have less time to potentially spend with the one who is good enough after we find her. The longer the search process takes, the less time we will have. Therefore, we should be getting less picky as we get older. I will have to remind myself of this. I feel like I’m getting more picky.

There is a chapter that discusses an economic concept called cheap talk, which is technically a branch of game theory. The idea is that, as people say, words are cheap. You can describe all of your best qualities in your profile, but how does the reader know that you are telling the truth? This is made worse by the fact that many people lie about qualities such as age, height, and income, and the reader might assume you are lying too, even if you are telling the truth.

I can identify with this. I tell the truth about everything in my profile. When I say I am 5’8” I mean that is my honest height, with my shoes and socks off. Actually, I’m 5’8½”, but I don’t want to create a false impression by rounding up. Most women, based on Match profiles, want someone who is at least 5’10”. So my height of 5’8” is a dealbreaker for most of the women in cyberland. I suspect that their expectations are distorted by men who lie about their height. Marco Rubio says is is 5’10”. I’ve seen him standing next to the other candidates. He’s not 5’10”, even with his platform shoes on. It’s his fault!

There is discussion about whether it is better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. An example of a big pond would be Match, the phone book of dating sites, A small pond might be VeggieDate. In the small pond, you will find a smaller set of potential matches, but you know they will satisfy what you think are your important criteria, for example, being vegetarian.

It is estimated that five percent of the population is vegetarian. Limiting oneself to a vegetarian partner rules out 95% of possible matches. In an average-sized city, this would result in a very small number of potential matches within driving distance. In a small town, the nearest match might be hours away. One might have success on a discriminating dating site like this in a densely populated area such as New York City. But, how many New York Cities are there?

His conclusion was that it’s better to choose the big pond. And let go of what you think are important criteria, like being a fellow vegetarian. You can only know that two people have a spark after meeting in person, and it’s much less likely to find such a person if you limit yourself to a small set of matches on VeggieDate. And how important is it really, that you both eat the same food?

The economic theory that is relevant for the big fish or big pond scenarios is called thick versus thin markets. It has applications outside of dating sites, and that’s all discussed in the book.

There is an interesting economic concept called signalling. Signalling can be used to circumvent the problems of cheap talk. For example, if you contact someone and say, “Your profile really stands out for me. It’s the best profile I’ve seen this year,”, even if it’s true, your contactee will assume you are lying. As women say, “I bet you say that to all the girls.”

Signalling provides a way to show you really mean it. The idea of signalling is that you show you really mean it by doing something for that person that costs something, and that you can’t do for everyone. A Korean dating site has a feature that allows you to sent a virtual rose. But, it only allows you to send two roses. if someone receives a rose, she knows that you liked her enough to use your valuable resource on her. Match used to have a similar feature that allowed users to send a VIP email. You would only be allowed to send a small limited number of VIP emails, something like one per week.

Sending someone a birthday card used to be an example of signalling. First, you would need to remember the person’s birthday. You would drive to the Hallmark store, browse through cards until you found one that was appropriate, write something nice on it, put a stamp on the envelope, walk to the mailbox, and send it out. This was something that had a real cost, and made the receiver feel good. It was an effective signal.

With Internet technology, there is now a shining example of the anti-signal: Birthday wishes on Facebook. In today’s Facebook-centric world, you’re likely to have your friend’s birthday automatically added to your calendar. If that’s not enough, when the day arrives, you will get a notification on your phone. You are then prompted, PROMPTED, to quickly send a birthday greeting and write “Happy Birthday” on her wall. This takes a maximum of about ten seconds. And if you do as many people are doing these days, and write merely “hb”, it will probably only cost you about four seconds out of your day. Anti-signal!

Another discussion that I enjoyed was about the economic concept called positive assortative mating. That sounds like a mouthful, but what it means is that likes tend to pair with likes, and they do well together in a variety of circumstances. What is counter-intuitive about this is that people who seem to be less desirable, perhaps because of their plain looks, low income, or low level of education are usually more desirable by other people with similar levels of these qualities. People want or feel comfortable with someone like them.

I can identify with the concept of positive assortative mating, because I search for profiles of women with at least a four year college degree, and preferably a graduate degree. I’ve often felt guilty about this, and wondered if I was a bit snobby about it. But, now I understand that I’m just looking for someone like myself, and based on the theory, that I would be more likely to get along with such a person. On the other side of the double-edged sword, I know that I have to get the idea right out of my head that I’ll ever find a suitable partner who looks like Christie Brinkley. It didn’t work for Billy Joel, who apparently didn’t study economic theory.

There is so much more that I enjoyed in this book, but in the interest of keeping this review short enough so that people will read it, I’ll close with a short discussion of one more economic theory that is applicable to online dating, adverse selection.

Adverse selection has to do with hidden information. A good example is used cars. People are often afraid of buying a used car because they assume that there is hidden information: A defect in the car that is not apparent on inspection or a test drive, but will show up after the car is purchased and driven for a while. In other words, the car might be a lemon.

In the early days of dating sites, there was a stigma associated with them. People assumed that only undesirable people had to join a dating site. An online profile might look good, but there must be hidden information, because otherwise, why would this person be on a dating site?

This stigma has largely disappeared, as online dating has become more mainstream. In fact, a recent study by psychologists confirmed that this stigma is effectively gone. And if a psychological study confirmed it, it must be true. (I read this on the Internet.)

However, adverse selection does still come into play, in more specialized ways. For example, if a man indicates on his profile that he is separated, even if there is no chance of reconciliation, even if he has moved on emotionally, and perhaps he’s just waiting for the papers to be filed with the courts, women might assume there is hidden information. He might jump back into bed with his wife at any time. He’s an emotional wreck looking for a temporary “rebound woman” to help him these tough times. Or if a woman indicates that she’s 50 years old and has never been married, a man might assume that there is hidden information that would show she is commitment phobic, or perhaps has a psychological flaw, even though (unbeknownst to him) she might have been in a long term relationship that wasn’t marriage. But, because of adverse selection, these people wouldn’t be given a chance.

Finally, a particularly worrisome example of adverse selection is the online profile that’s been there for a long time. If someone has had a profile for many years, and is still not in a relationship, there must be something wrong with him. At least that’s what readers of his profile will assume, based on the theory. The author reveals that he partook in online dating for four years, from 2010 to 2014, before he finally met the one who is good enough on JDate. His dating advice, at the end of the chapter on adverse selection is this: “If someone has been active on a dating site for a long time, STAY AWAY.”

In what year did I say I created my dating site profiles? Uh oh.


Fifty New Ways To Leave Your Lover

I finally got around to watching a movie from 2009 that I’ve been wanting to see, called “He’s Just Not That Into You”. It stars Drew Barrymore, and there are lots of discussions about dating and rejection.

The book on which this movie was based was recommended to me back in 2006, soon after my divorce, when I was just getting started with online dating. I was talking with a friend about someone who had contacted me on one of the dating sites. I wasn’t interested, and I was looking for a polite way to reject her, and feeling guilty about it. And my friend said, “Don’t feel guilty. You’re just not that into her. She’ll understand.”

Fast forward ten years to 2016. Since then, I’ve looked at thousands of online profiles, and thousands of women have looked at mine. (And I guarantee, there’s no problem.) There has been communication and contact, 100% of which has ultimately resulted in rejection (although some have become good friends). And the movie was next on my Netflix queue, so I finally watched it.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie was from Drew Barrymore:

“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work so I called him at home and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry and so I texted to his cell and then he emailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.” [Source: IMDB]

BlackBerry! So 2009. I suppose after she read the email on her BlackBerry, she got on her dinosaur and rode away.

This got me thinking about all the new ways to reject someone. Here are some of the popular ones, for those who are not techno-dating savvy.


I like the definition given in Urban DictionaryThe act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.

This one is not strictly related to technology. However, technology certainly has served as a catalyst for it. It’s easier to ghost someone you’ve met online. In the old days, when you met someone in traditional ways, such as through common activities or friends of friends, it was not so practical to ghost people you might come across later in your social circles.

Emergency Phone Call

This is used most often on a first date. The subject gets a phone call on his cell phone. He takes the call, and then explains that there is an emergency and he has to leave. Usually, he will recruit a friend to make the phone call. For people without friends, there is an app for that. In fact, there are many apps, including one provided by eHarmony called “Bad Date Rescue”. I’m not making this up.

Changing Facebook Relationship Status

This one is particularly cowardly and passive-aggressive, especially If the couple’s relationship statuses mention each other (e.g., “In a relationship with Mary”). When the victim logs in next, she will see that her own relationship status has changed!

Standing Him Up

The subject just doesn’t show up for a date. This is another technique, similar to ghosting, that isn’t strictly connected to technology, but is more likely when the standee isn’t in the subject’s social circles. This is usually followed by ghosting.

Blocking Her Dating Site Profile/Phone Number/Facebook Account

More tools for the passive-aggressive.

Thinking about this brought to mind the song by Paul Simon, “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”. The song needs to be revised for 2016. Fifty New Ways To Leave Your Lover. Here are some new lines for the song, co-written with Paula Light.

50 New Ways To Leave Your Lover

Send her a text, Rex
Delete your page, Sage
Block her name, Wayne
Just ghost away, Ray
Email an excuse, Bruce
Pretend you’re dead, Fred
Plan an emergency phone call, Paul
Change your relationship status, Gladys
Leave her a voicemail, Abigail
Just stand her up, Chuck
We’re not a match, Ash
There was no spark, Clark

And last but not least:

I’m just not that into you, Sue

Saturday Morning Musing

As I’ve written about in my last post, I’ve exhausted all possible matches on ALL of the dating sites. The thought occurred to me that I need a new portal for finding love.

If you read the advice columns about the subject, I think the top suggestion through the years is “Go to the supermarket.” This gave me an idea for a social experiment.

What if I go to Ralphs every day for the next week, and each day I ask someone to help me choose a ripe watermelon? I would imagine the response will be something like this. I think I’ll get five “Weirdo”s, one “Pervert!”, and perhaps one “Unbelievable!”

And then what am I going to do with seven watermelons?