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L.A. Affairs: I signed up for online dating. Are L.A. men really this extra?

Woman sits atop a giant phone with various emojis.
(Kasia Serafin / For The Times)

After a difficult breakup and many months of reflection, I decided it was time to join the online dating scene. I chose a site that was age-appropriate and offered me a one-month free trial. After uploading my best photo, I wrote a profile that described my interests and what I was searching for in a gentleman.

My interests included cooking, museums, ballet, art galleries, theater, old movies and collecting vintage jewelry. I was clear that I wanted a relationship that would offer great communication, trust, affection and love and involve someone who would become my best friend. I also mentioned that I am a hopeless romantic.

Within a day, I received my first message, which posed the question: “Do you dig in the garden?”

Every July 3 I remember how we met. Her humor made the sparks fly in our relationship.

I smiled to myself, answered him and explained that I’m an ex-New Yorker who has never owned a garden. I mentioned I would be open to any other questions he might have for me. I also said that I love flowers and have fresh flowers at home each week. I never heard back from him.

Then came a message from a second gentleman, who asked: “Do you own a plain white blouse?” My picture on the site was that of a striking redhead — me, of course! — with an off-the-shoulder top. I explained that I’m an ex-fashion executive who enjoys pretty clothes. I never heard from him again.

The third gentleman who answered me had a handsome photo and said that he was a marketing executive. He asked some very direct questions, and I answered all of them. After four days of back-and-forth messages, I asked him how he would like to proceed. In the fifth message, he told me the truth. He was in a wheelchair and was looking for an email pal.

The next day I received a message from a man, a dentist, that was very complimentary. He explained that the camera on his phone wasn’t working, and he asked if we could chat. I don’t give my number to strangers, so I asked for his number instead. We spoke for a while, and I liked our conversation and thought we had common interests.

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We spoke several more times, and although he still couldn’t send me a photo, we made plans to meet. I took a chance because he was a great conversationalist. Was this a red flag? I asked Alvin to describe his appearance.

He said, “I look like a distinguished Tony Curtis.”

I was into a man 16 years my senior who often lived in a different ZIP code for the years that we dated. I lived in Hollywood, and most of our conversations happened over Gmail.

He also said he would be waiting in front of the flower arrangement in the lobby of our designated spot at 8 p.m. I arrived at 7:45 p.m. and waited anxiously. At 8:15 p.m., there appeared to be no Alvin.

However, there was an overweight gentleman standing next to me the whole time. He kept staring at me. Finally, he asked for me by name and explained that he was Alvin. He wore a mismatched suit and a tie that had ketchup and mustard stains. Several of his hairs were combed from the back of his head forward. He was about 5-foot-3. Not exactly a distinguished Tony Curtis!

I asked him why he lied to me, and he replied: “Would you have met me?” I went to my car shaking my head, not believing the evening.

Two days after the Alvin debacle, a gentleman reached out, and when I looked at his picture, I was most impressed. I answered him, and he asked for my number to chat. I called him, and we had a great conversation. He told me that he was a landscape artist who painted mostly in Big Sur and he had an apartment there, as well as in Southern California.

He loved to cook Italian food and invited me to his home for dinner. I wasn’t comfortable with his offer for a first meeting. Therefore we agreed to meet at a restaurant the following evening. He looked older than his photo but was still handsome and more distinguished. Our conversation was dynamic, and he asked lots of questions. I was interested in his paintings and wanted to know how he chose his locations and what made his paintings different.

He gave me the greatest smile and said that his paintings were in very bright colors as opposed to the somber colors in most oceanscapes. As we came close to the end of the evening, he remarked that I had a strong New York accent. It struck me how unusual his remark was because he had heard my accent on the phone for 15 minutes and didn’t say anything during that conversation. Although he said he found me very attractive, he didn’t think he wanted to see me again.

Dating in small-town Colorado didn’t prepare me to look for love in L.A.

On the last day of my trial offer, I received another message. He liked my profile and photo and wanted to meet that night. I wanted to chat before we met. We talked a few more times, and I found out he was a drummer with a somewhat famous band.

We met at a lounge in North Hollywood. Thankfully he did look like his photo. We talked for a couple of hours. I found out that he was truly a Renaissance man who paints and writes poetry and is a gourmet cook. When we were ready to leave, he gently took my hand and looked me directly in my eyes. Then he explained he was married and in an unhappy situation. He didn’t have to say anything else. I told him I wasn’t interested in seeing him again and thanked him for the drink.

My online dating experiences haven’t turned out the way I’d hoped. I feel positive that the right man is out there for me. Having lived in Los Angeles since 1975, I know that L.A. men are more casual and tend to be more open, and I like that a lot. Therefore, I continue to join different groups, enroll in classes and look for new ways to meet men. I am told dating is about numbers, and the numbers game is difficult in California. But I am willing to try the online thing again after a short hiatus.

The author lives in Studio City, writes romantic fiction and does consultant work in the fashion industry related to fashion trade shows and upscale specialty stores.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.


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