In search for Mr. Right, she found herself

August 11, 2005|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Looking for love online? Or, like us, simply hooked on Hooking Up, ABC's documentary series about online dating that, alas, ends tonight? This is the last in a series of tales, as told to us by a reader, about the good, the bad and the ugly of online dating.

Pamela Silberman considers herself a child of the Disney generation.

In other words, the 33-year-old Abingdon counselor was raised on stories that someday her prince would sweep her off her feet and they would ride off together to live Happily Ever After.

Everyone, she was told, would discover The One. Once found, it would be Love At First Sight. A Big Wedding would follow, then Babies and after that, Marital Bliss.

"I fed right into that story," Silberman says. "I never believed a guy was supposed to fulfill my dreams or complete me, but I took it for granted that one day, I'd have a good relationship with a guy."

In her quest for True Love in her teens, she kissed many frogs, but no Prince Charming. In her early 20s, she tried happy hours, blind dates and dating services to no avail. Was Prince Charming stuck in some speed dating purgatory, forcing that glass slipper on some other girl's foot in six minutes flat before a ringing bell pushed him on to somebody else?

Five years ago, Silberman moved her quest online. Surely, Prince Charming had Internet access by now, right? Which online service would he use? Match.com, eHarmony.com, lavalife.com "where singles click" or datemypet.com for animal lovers (he's supposed to gallop into her life on that lovely white steed, isn't he?).

Silberman chose Jdate.com, a service for Jewish singles. Is Charming Jewish?

But perusing photo after photo of eligible bachelors proved difficult. What does Prince Charming look like? Silberman believes strongly that he's funny, educated and a professional, but if she was lucky, he would also be a tall, blue-eyed redhead. Would Prince Charming e-mail her and say, "Your picture is really hot?" Would he ask for an "emotionally free" or "open" relationship?

"Can real relationships be formed from pigeon-holed responses?" Silberman says. "I wonder how people in the cyberworld would judge me based on the limited information I could post in this tiny little box. Are successful relationships built from menu-style descriptions? Can a true understanding be relayed in an eye-catching title, 1,000 words or less of text and a 1-inch photograph?

"I think online dating sets you up to be judgmental," Silberman says. "You try not to be, but it's a slippery slope."

What if she ruled out her intended Prince Charming because he was shorter than 5-foot-7? What if she nixed him because his name was Sven, B.J., Yogi, Chip, Skip or Moe? What if she vetoed a meeting with him simply because he misspelled words and wrote grammatically incorrect sentences?

"People are seeking a lot more perfection now," Silberman says. "It's so easy to cross someone off because they're missing something from your list."

Alas, there is no Fairy Tale Ending. Prince Charming has not been found.

But in an ending that's more true to the real world and represents a new attitude of dating in the 21st century, Silberman says that, "In searching for Mr. Right, I found myself."

What does that mean? Silberman has discovered that the woman who was searching, searching, searching is smart, successful, witty and realistic. She knows happiness comes from within. She knows that unlike that Jerry Maguire movie trifle, "No man can complete me." She knows there is no Perfect Love. She knows fulfilling your own life dreams is more important than waiting for someone else to do it for you.

With that said, Silberman is still out there exploring online. Still hopeful. But she's got a whole new attitude these days. She no longer believes that someday her prince will come, but that someday her prince might come - and if he does, he'll find a really wonderful person to share his life with.

In other words, unlike Cinderella, Silberman needs no rescuing.

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