Catch and Release

After the nasty, shallow, breaking-up post the other day, I thought it only fair that I do an equally nasty, shallow meeting-up post today. Amy mentioned in the comments of the breaking-up post that she once dated via personal ads and screened applicants through their grammar and spelling. Coincidentally, that same day, I got an email (and probably many of you got the same email) from some “Facebook-integrated dating site” (whatever that means) offering to let me write posts for them for free.

The stars were obviously aligned in favour of an internet/agency/personal ad (depending on your era) dating post.

I once joined a dating agency. For anyone under 30, this is what they used to have before LavaLife or Plentyoffish.  You had to leave your home and visit an office populated by human beings who would give you a questionnaire – on paper. Then they’d give you a pen, and you’d sit and write down — by hand — information about yourself. Then they’d take a photograph with a crazy old-timey gadget called a Polaroid camera that instantly produced blurry, greenish images, but with a nice wide border around the bottom. (The big bottom border was so you could write down a description of what was supposed to be depicted in the photograph in case it was too unrecognizable and green)

The really swanky dating agencies would take a blurry, greenish video of you instead. You’d get all dressed up; pretend you were talking to a potential date and say really stupid stuff about yourself.

I opted for the lower-tech, chicks-are-free option. In this agency, the Matchmaker Lady did all the work. She’d sort through the applications and Polaroids and match me up with people she thought would be compatible. Then she’d call me and tell me about some guy and give me his telephone number. I’d call him, we’d talk and then decide if we wanted to meet up. I’d call the Matchmaker Lady and tell her when the meet-up was. (I know, I know, she’s starting to sound like a pimp to me, too, all of a sudden) Anyway, after the initial meet-up I had to call the Matchmaker Lady again and let her know how it went. I guess if she didn’t get a call within a few days, she’d assume I’d been murdered and left in a ditch by the side of the road and she’d alert authorities.

Luckily that never happened.

She did send me a lot of desperate eligible men. It was quite a long time ago now, but I don’t believe anything memorable ever happened on any of the meet-ups I went to. I’m pretty sure I never went out on a second date, either. Matchmaker Lady got pissed off with me at some point and we more or less mutually agreed that I should gave up on the whole sorry experience.

I’ve never looked at LavaLife, but I have had a look at the Plentyoffish site — just to see what was going on in the zany world of dating these days. Nothing there made me jump up and say, “Whoa, stand aside and let me dive into this sea.”

I do realize that you’re all muttering to yourself that it’s not the fish in the sea that’s the problem here — it’s me. And you’re right. Matchmaker Lady said pretty much the same thing. I’m obviously not interested enough in dating to make the effort. If I happen to meet somebody I like enough to want to spend an evening or whatever with, that’s one thing. But pursuing a date, by electronic or other means is like making some sort of commitment to declaring yourself open to a relationship.

And if that’s what you really want, the deliberate mate-seeking option seems to work. I know quite a few people who met their spouses and/or significant others online and everyone seems happy. Even people, who didn’t purposely set out to meet a partner, ended up meeting someone incidentally because of Facebook, blogging or some other online-related activity.  

How about you? Have you ever dabbled in the world of internet, agency or personal ad dating? Was it a good, bad or indifferent experience? Did you meet your soul-mate, worst nightmare or cure for insomnia?

*** Also,  of all the Polaroid photographs that have been taken of or by you in the past, do any of them still have an actual image on them?

I do. I do. I do. I do. I do.

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There’s a small island in the Indian Ocean called Mayotte that has just voted to become part of France like Martinique and Guadaloupe. Until now, its status has been a French “oversees community.” The problem is that most of the residents of Mayotte are Muslims and practice polygamy.

Polygamy is illegal in France and so the Mayottes have been told they have to stop having more than one spouse.

Although condoned by both the Judeo-Christian Bible and the Koran, polygamy is illegal in most of the world, including all western countries and some Islamic countries. Only some Muslim states, like Saudi Arabia, and some African societies still allow it.

Why is polygamy a crime?

If someone wants more than one spouse and all the people involved are legally adults and happy with the arrangement, what’s the problem?

The anti-polygamists always drag out the “preservation of the sanctity of marriage” argument (where have we heard that one before?). People fear that the children of polygamous families will grow up confused about family life. They wonder what will happen if there’s a divorce. Will kids be taken away from their half-siblings as well as their other parent(s)?

I think polygamy makes a lot more sense than our traditional idea of marriage. The fantastical, romantic married couple as soul mates, two becoming one, cleaving unto each other and only each other until death is unrealistic. Divorce statistics bear that out. Loving only one person for life doesn’t happen much anymore. It’s an ideal —  a product of our particular time, place and culture.

Polygamy had been the norm in many societies throughout the world from the beginning of time to quite recently. Most of the animal kingdom is polygamous. It’s the natural order of things.

It until 1862 that polygamy was made illegal in the US.

Polygamy is not about the stereotypical sheik with harem of women at his disposal for fornication purposes. It’s a commitment made between three or more individuals to work together and love each other as partners and raise a family.

The polygamous family has far fewer pressures to deal with. Kids are raised under a wider influence of adults and siblings. Kids have more role models; more creative, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical resources.

There is a greater support system. There are more providers, both in a financial and emotional sense in a polygamous family. One or even two people losing their jobs doesn’t have to spell disaster for the family. Two people not being able to agree on disciplining a child or other domestic issues isn’t the huge problem it often is in two-parent families.

There’s so much divorce; so much unhappiness in marriages today. And there are many more people living lies; trapped in frustrating, loveless marriages, and/or carrying on extra-marital affairs. Wanting to leave, but not able to. If they had an alternate spouses, or even co-spouses, they’d have others to share their lives, their problems, their joys.

Marriage carries huge expectations. People expect their spouses to be good lovers, partners, help-mates, emotional supports, parents, providers, intellectual equals, confidants, companions, friends, etc., etc. That’s a lot to put on one person.

I won’t pretend that everyone would be happy in a polygamous family. Some people are perfectly happy and content with their current situation. That’s great. But why are the alternative options illegal?

If, for some reason I was no longer allowed to be single, I would much rather live in a polygamous marriage than a one-on-one marriage. The polygynous kind, though, where I was one of several wives;  not the polyandrous kind. (I’m not surprised that one never really took off).

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I know, that was terribly sexist and hurtful. I’m sorry.

Really, the best combination would be a few husbands and a few wives. One big happy family.

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