Online dater says reducing her options helped her find love
"It was pretty terrifying, honestly."
That's how Christie Gray felt about her first experience with online dating.
She'd been married prior to that first login on a dating site.
She'd met her husband in the late 90s. They'd met the old-fashioned way, in person, via their university social circle.
But seven years later, the marriage ended and Christie Gray found herself single, looking to meet people in the rapidly expanding world of online dating.
It was intimidating, she says, but it was also eye-opening.
"I had amazing conversations with people about their families and their cultural background and their history and their thoughts on politics. And those were sometimes conversations that I wouldn't ever have had because those people really didn't have the same points of view as I did."
The dehumanizing effect of online dating
But it wasn't long before Christie felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of men online, as well as all the messages she was getting.
"As a woman online, you're getting so many messages. You're just inundated with messages."
And the effect, she says, wasn't good.
"You're seeing profile after profile and picture after picture and after a while you stop thinking of people as people and as other humans and you start thinking of them as just profiles. They're faces on a computer."
She says it's a "dehumanizing" process and that she was as guilty of it as anyone else, both online and when she'd meet the men behind those profiles in person.
"For every date that I went on there were like five other options in my inbox that I could have gone back to, so it didn't really seem that urgent to pick the person who was sitting right in front of me. Maybe the next person was going to be better."
Christie says that attitude has led to a whole range of common, callous behaviour.
She says "ghosting" is a prime example. Ghosting happens when two people are interacting online, then one suddenly decides to cut the relationship short without explanation. They just disappear, like a ghost. Christie says being on the receiving end of a ghost is hurtful.
She also says she came across numerous men who were aggressive and insulting in their messages.
"Those occurrences happened with enough frequency that I really started feeling kind of beaten down."
It all led to online dating burnout.
Outsourcing the search for a mate
Christie decided that if she wanted to be treated better and also to reverse her own, newfound tendency to view the men as disposable, she needed a way to vastly reduce the number of profiles on offer.
Then she came across matchmaking -- a process that assigns much of the decision-making to someone else.
Christie signed up for a Toronto-based service called Friend of a Friend Matchmaking. She was assigned a matchmaker, Sofi Papamarko, who used interviews and questionnaires to get to know her.
"She and I had a really good connection too. So that was also a really great experience to feel like there was somebody joining my team who was gonna be on my side."
Sofi took her time figuring out which of her male clients might be a good fit with Christie.
It was six months before she set Christie up on her first date.
Christie says that was her best dating experience since since her divorce.
It lasted six weeks.
Sofi's next match, Ian, was a home run. Christie and Ian have been together for two years.
"We are now living together and things are amazing. He's really one of the best people I've ever met."
Christie says, for her, online dating websites simply offered too many choices and not enough time or space to get to know people more substantially.
She says, where she grew up, in small-town British Columbia, friends and family are often matchmakers. But in Toronto, where she now lives, she needed to outsource that role.
"We're not always acting in our best interests, as daters. I don't feel like I always made the best decisions and I felt like having someone else step in and say, "hey, how about you consider this person," is probably a good idea."
Click LISTEN to hear how delegating one of life's most impoirtant decisions to a professional helped Christie find happiness without the stress of dating in the internet age.