I've been very fortunate to have had several articles published by the Catholic Match Magazine over the past four months. It's been good experience for me, and my articles have received very gratifying responses.
I don't get paid cash for the work; I'm paid in full membership privileges. Catholic Match is one of those sites you have to pay to participate on. I have full access to all the fora, posting privileges, email, emote, and chat access. I've been quite active since early November, I've made some delightful friends, men and women, and I'm glad I gave it a try -
But I have also decided that this online dating game is not for me.
In fact, I'm even more leery of it now than I was beforehand. I've seen a multitude of couples test the waters and then break up - I've seen women lament that their attempts to make contact with appealing men are ignored, I've seen men lament similar difficulties. The sex-segregated rooms, St. Anne's for the women and St Joachim for the men, are havens of personal revelations that have been an education, to be sure.
I think one of the worst problems with a site like this is that - let's face it: this place attracts men and women who have had no success getting along with people in real life. Except for my buddy Matt, who introduced me to the site (and who joined, I think, as a shortcut to being acquainted with potentially like-minded Catholics while he was brand new to our area - at least, I dearly hope that was all his motive), most people there have histories as long as my arm of failed relationships, many of them abusive and exploitive.
Just last night, one of the "pinkies" (women's room regulars) started a thread complaining how disgusted with the men on the site she is. She's decided to try to make it up with her local boyfriend, a man she has regularly come crying to us about - she caught him smoking dope, she was frightened because he expected physical intimacy from her that she didn't want to give him... but he's there, and he sends her flowers and what the hey, he feeds the homeless at the restaurant he owns, and that of course makes him a Living Saint.
It's a self-perpetuating loony asylum in there.
I was contacted by a fellow this week, a man who'd read my most recent article on chastity as a synonym for modesty and who wanted to thank me - and, while he had the opportunity, to complain about the women on the fora who stalk him and are so disgustingly immodest in their speech and conduct. A series of emails ensued - he sent me 2 to every 1 I sent him - and it quickly became obvious that this disgruntled man has such unrealistic expectations of human behavior that it is impossible to please him. He was particularly offended by the local affectionate term for the men's room: The Cave.
Thinking he was brand new (he's not, he's incognito in a "new" identity so as to "hide" from his former fiancee who stalked him after he broke off their engagement a couple of years ago), I explained that the Cave gets its name as a good-humored tease of the stereotype of men as neanderthals, and as a nod to John Grey, who says that men retreat to "the cave" when they have a problem to solve. This explanation only further offended my correspondant, who challenged me: "What if I were to call you a redneck?"
"Fred, I am a redneck!"
"Well, what about your weight, then? Wouldn't that offend you? It should!"
"Fred, you can call me obese, you can call me fat, you can call me a tub of lard - I really do not care. My weight does not define who I am - it only pertains to one aspect of my overall appearance. It's all a matter of having a SENSE OF HUMOR..." which poor Fred has none, by all appearances.
I'm also impressed, negatively, by the number of women who cling to rotten, abusive relationships with controlling, manipulative, and abusive men - because these guys baited them with romantic gestures and words from the very beginning of their relationships, "It was so perfect! I really thought he was The One!" they lament.
I feel like a bloomin' fish out of water in that website. I feel out of step and increasingly annoyed, disgrunted, and downright ticked off, particularly at the women. I've tried to speak Truth every way I know how - I had an article published called "Reflections on Love," in which I spoke of the difference between attraction, infatuation, and love - and about the dangers of codependency. I take a stand for sense and self-respect in the Pink Room (women's room) every chance I get. I cheer women on, I urge them to respect themselves and not to allow the men they think they love to abuse or exploit them, but to seek healthy, mutually balanced relationships -
It's like talking to a brick wall. Or, like my old Professor told us, a Korean proverb: "Spit straight up. Learn something."
I've dropped out of the Master Chorale. In addition to being swamped through Easter, I feel increasingly a need to cultivate LOCAL relationships and social outlets. It's ridiculous to place all my energies in relationships with people 86 miles away when I have a community here to cultivate and engage in. I don't know whether I'll ever see my Chorale friends again - and that makes me terribly sad. They are dearer to me than I ever expected them to be. But it's time to live in the real world, in my own community-
Yes, this community I've been wanting to escape for thirty years -
and I suppose this is the place to begin.