I’m serious – it really was love at first click. To me, this is not so different from love at first sight. Blind dating is blind dating, but you get to know someone a little bit better with an online dating profile than, say, participating in speed dating events. Being set up can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t consider yourself the blind dating type. With online dating, however, you have a lot more control in a single click – and it can change everything.
Four years ago, I was a single, Jewish man in his mid-20s living in Chicago. I was living the complete bachelor lifestyle, bartending and managing at restaurants and enjoying the night life. I didn’t date much because I wasn’t really looking for anyone. Jewish parents, on the other hand, are always looking. That’s when I received an unusual birthday gift from my mother – a subscription to JDate.
“Did you know that so-and-so met their spouse on a Jewish online dating website?” my mom would say each time we spoke. “You really should try it; you’ve got nothing to lose!” Who hasn’t gotten sage advice like this from a Jewish parent before? Thanks, Mom.
At first, however, I didn’t want anyone to know that I was having challenges meeting women, so I felt sheepish about resorting to the taboo that online dating was at the time. And what would happen if I tried and came up empty?
Creating an online dating profile felt weird, but I gradually began to understand why people like me were doing the same. I was ready for a serious relationship, so I figured to take a risk and put myself out there. Maybe I’d at least go on some fun and entertaining dates and save myself the embarrassment I felt of late at not having attracted anyone’s attention.
Sure enough, if I hadn’t taken the plunge and accepted my mother’s birthday gift, I would not have met my beshert. In that moment, I had no idea I was beginning a journey that would forever change my life.
But it wasn’t that easy. I joined JDate optimistic about finding love, but those dreams slowly melted away with each passing month and every short, intermittent subscription renewal. I eventually reached the end of my online dating rope, hanging on by a thread, growing tired of scrolling through the same profiles and even more tired of one-time dates that amounted to little more than wasted time. Sure, I met a few attractive, fun, humorous and engaging women, but there was no spark, no chemistry, and no desire to keep hanging out. The more I dated, the more comfortable I became walking away from an uneventful date and feeling nothing. So I decided I would take a break.
On what was to be the last day of my subscription, the end of three years of failed attempts to find myself “the match,” I put together a last-ditch effort to see if there was anyone worth keeping in touch with after my subscription expired. It was 1 a.m. on a weeknight (thank you, bartending schedule) when I began what had to have been my thousandth JDate search, and possibly my last. I entered my search criteria and crossed my fingers that some new faces would come up.
Her screen name was “Ashcan.” She had blond hair and blue eyes, which, admittedly, was rare. She was, as I would say, “va-va-VOOM!” attractive. I rubbed my palms together like a child preparing to dig into an ice cream sundae with two cherries on top and clicked into her profile. She was Reform, she grew up in Glencoe so we probably had mutual friends – but other than a funny quote or two, she didn’t really fill in the rest of her profile, so I was curious. I had to talk to her. She seemed smart, goal-oriented and funny, so I clicked “Yes.”
For those not in the JDate loop, to “click” with someone else is letting them know you like their profile without having to directly contact them, only to find out they have no interest. This was something I reserved only for special profiles, for girls I knew without question that I was interested in, because if you both click “Yes,” then JDate notifies you of a match and encourages you to chat.
And that’s what happened right when I clicked “Yes” on Ashley’s profile. We “clicked” right away and my heart fluttered for a moment. Time still of the essence, I scribbled out a message asking her to chat so we could make a date to hang out. I stared at my computer screen, scrolling back and forth, hoping she’d get the message while I was online. I kept looking back to her profile, at her gorgeous blue eyes and wide smile, wondering what might be in store for us on our (possible) future date. I left myself logged in all day and later discovered she had responded. My eyes gleamed as I read her response, and already I began to feel a connection.
I was in disbelief. It was mere minutes before the termination of my subscription – that’s how close I came to missing her. Something inside me said this was not a simple coincidence.
On our first date, I picked Ashley up in my mother’s luxury car to let her know that I meant business, and we hit it off right away. We talked about our families and our childhood upbringings, playing Jewish geography and finding lots in common. I didn’t want the night to end, though I did learn later that Ashley thought I wasn’t so into her. I proved her wrong, however, when I walked her back to the car. She was giving me all the signs: big toothy smile, eyebrows raised, extended eye contact, even batty eyelashes. As we approached the passenger side door, I reached over her shoulder to open the door but quickly closed it, spun her around, pushed her up against the door and laid a fat, juicy kiss on her. Sparks were certainly flying that night.
After I dropped her off, I called my mom and said, “I think I finally met someone, and I want to see her again.”
“Is she the one?” my mom asked, as she did after every date.
I rolled my eyes. “Too soon to tell, Mom,” I said wearily, “too soon to tell.”
Well, it wasn’t too soon. A month later we were saying “I love you” and after a year we were living together and talking about getting a puppy. Two years later, I proposed to her, and a year after that, we got married. This summer, we are beyond excited to welcome our baby daughter into the family.
The funny thing is, it turns out that Ashley’s friend had set up her JDate profile, clicked “Yes” on mine and encouraged us to date. More importantly, however, is that we made the fateful decision to step out from behind our computer screens and into each other’s lives, and we never looked back. We are proof that online dating, with all its quirks and taboos, can be a true and sincere way to find someone and fall in love.
Whether you’re looking for social clubs, sports leagues or a romantic partner, the power of human connection can cross all types of boundaries – even technological ones. Many people remember the first time they went out on a date, or what they wore, or the details of that first kiss. I will forever remember and cherish my first “click” with my beshert.
Read more posts in our “Beshert in Chicago” series here.