Member Polylogue, part 1
Use of the Science Connection network
The main opinions aired on this topic are that people should: (1) be "proactive" in using the network, rather than waiting for others to contact them; (2) try not to take exchanges with another member too seriously or have unrealistic expectations; (3) be less picky in their specifications for potential mates or dates.
The SciCon staff has noted that at membership renewal time members often remark that they've not "taken advantage of the network" or been as active in contacting other members as they feel they ought to be. We quoted one member who said that she scans the listing noting the interesting ones, then waits to see if they contact her. This prompted this response, among others of a similar gist:
|This reminds me of one of the problems noted for the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) by listening with radio telescopes. What if all the civilizations are listening, and no one transmits?|
- Grasp the nettle! ... I didn't contact very many people, so I sort of cheated myself of the prime benefit of your service: meeting eligible, like minded singles. I would like to encourage your members to take a chance and e-mail or write someone at least once a month. Tell them not to cheat themselves of a really great service, but take full advantage and maximize their opportunities. Everyone I corresponded with was very nice, and a little shy, just as I was. So tell 'em to start typing!
- Patience, s'il vous plait Thank you so much for the encouragement to write to some of these guys. I have heard from all of the ones I have written to, but many need a little sisterly advice: Don't be so needy/pushy/ impatient. Some of us out here have really happy lives and have more to do than to sit at a computer every day to answer e-mails. We are not members of Science Connection because we are desperately lonely or in the market for just any stranger who can write a relatively decent letter. We need to get to know you first.
- Let's see... My ideal mate would... If I have one observation that may approach a disappointment, it is that many members tend to idealize the qualities for their prospective contacts and emphasize sudden chemistry over sympathies more measured. Inherent in this tendency is the search for "soul mates," rather than the softer inclination to find the soul in others, and mutual interests and plain attractions as the bases for possible rapport. I, as well, have been inclined to grasp at lofty ideals, to consider only those who best fit our certain standards, instead of approaching those well-rounded and more receptive than determined, but who fail, nonetheless, to match our angled canons. How many of us are passionate, energetic, reliable, profound, honest, humorous, and beautiful to the nines? How many of us are saints and sages and comic comforters rolled into one? The best we should do is be kind and respectful, and the truth -- what was meant to be -- will follow in kind.
- Low odds, but... ... someone should point out that the probability of
finding a lifetime
partner through this kind of forum is very slim. A spirited, good-natured correspondence with a
member of the opposite sex should be enough for anyone.
- Counter-view: odds not necessarily low When I first joined I spent a lot of time looking over mini-profiles. I was amazed at how many interesting women there seemed to be in my age bracket. (I still feel that way.) It was with great difficulty that I narrowed my initial request for bio-profiles to seventeen. I wrote to nine of those. Five wrote back. I'm still corresponding with four of them, plus two more who have initiated contact with me. Yes, it can be time-consuming -- but so can (should?) every relationship, especially in the early stages. Besides, I am becoming convinced that whatever time I spend in correspondence is put to better use than in the other, more traditional, ways of meeting women. I have found less game-playing and more honest communication in writing. Contrary to another member's comment, I think that the probability of finding a lifetime partner by beginning this way is high. Whatever the outcome, though, it is more enjoyable than I ever expected it to be.
- Broader value of Science Connection Although I didn't meet her through
Science Connection, I think that the
organization helped me to find her in another way. It gave me confidence that women I could relate
to exist out in the world. Although
scientifically minded people are not as common as many other sorts of people, we do exist. Perhaps
we tend to be less outspoken and
more considerate than others, so we might get noticed less.
Enjoying the process
- A member wrote that she had met several members with widely varying geographic
interests, and commented:
I initiated these meetings and we've had a perfectly wonderful time. I might suggest to other members to be a bit more open to trying new things and just look for enjoying the company of others without enormous expectations other than having fun.
- As to the member comment section and to encounters experienced or awaited, how about some playfulness instead of dead-seriousness of the CHASE. How about delight in a meeting? How about curiosity in becoming acquainted?
- First of all, it never occurred to me to simply sit and wait to be contacted. I'm not sure why
this is -- I
would never have called a man for a date. But correspondence seemed, and seems, different to me.
have "rejected" me -- some because they were dating others. Many of these were far away, and
some I have made
concerted efforts to remain in touch with. But then, I never thought to only seek The One. Oddly, I
found him --
but I am still a member, because many people have gifts for me -- and perhaps I for them. I like the
people I have
become friends with from Science Connection.
I do have one thought about those who seek -- or prefer -- to avoid the "pain" of an outright "no, thank you." If this is too much to be borne, how on earth are these folks ever going to bear the pain of true intimacy?
- I am a long-time member of SC -- this may seem to bode poorly for my credibility, but I
would like to
make a few recommendations to the other men in SC, on how to get the most out of their
- Try not to be too sensitive about rejection. You are adorable (or not), your writing may not properly reflect this fact. If you get no response, don't even wait for a response. Write someone else, wait for the next newsletter. I get maybe one response out of ten letters I send, but a few of these have been really beautiful -- I have become long-term friends with them. Write your letters with care, but don't invest all of your self-esteem in them. Gosh, it's only a letter.
- There are lots of interesting women. This is really true. Try to enjoy learning about each one -- once you get someone to bite, reel her in, ask her to tell about herself, what she does, where she grew up. Tell only a bit about yourself, to be polite, but make her seem interesting. Even if she is not really The One (of many), try to consider it entertaining, a game of sorts. Be nice to everyone, be honest -- but this still leaves you a lot of leeway.
- If you really expect people to write you a letter of rejection, you are going to be disappointed very often. It is nice (if you are a masochist) to get such letters but how can you expect this of total strangers? Maybe the person you write to has received a hundred letters like yours? If you write to someone who is in a prime age range and is interesting in other ways, she is going to get a lot of letters. Simply be realistic, write to them if you like, do your best, but don't expect her to write several hundred letters saying, "no, thanks." It is painful to write them, try it yourself. One feels obligated to say something more than "no, thanks", when one really has no stomach for thinking of something nicer to say. If you expect this kind of thing, you have invested too much self-esteem in your letters. (Personally, I do answer every letter, but I also recognize this is a manner from a time gone by.)
- For those of you who consider yourselves too busy to write letters that are ignored, or for relationships by letter or email that do not progress as hoped, consider the real-life alternatives, how much time they take. I am as busy as most men, and busier than many. I would recommend that the solution is to write more letters. You get better, and faster, and you are not so disappointed by results. If you get a chance to meet, have fun! Be nice! But don't expect to be married by March.
I have to say, there are wonderful women in SC. If you have been disappointed by women who will consider only men who are tall, handsome, powerful, super-sexy, -- well, not all of them are like that. Maybe I shouldn't share this secret, since I do not welcome competition, but really, these are some of the most attractive women I have ever met, in real life or by mail.
[Note from Coordinator: this member has since met and married a fellow Science Connection member.]
- SC members are only human I do think people who expect an organization to improve reality rather than one's chances are off-track. Specifically, some of your letters complain that men don't give as much information as women (this is new?); or that some don't answer letters. No answer is an answer. I understand women's complaint that men often want women a lot younger; there have always been more weak men around than the other kind, at least that was my youthful experience. Now that I'm older, and have less time (it seems) to waste, I'm just as glad to have them self-select out!
- Two S.C. members reflect on their trip to Alaska We volunteer the
following comments in the hope that they
provide some insight to SC members who may be contemplating an extended trip together.
Following an exchange of bioprofiles, photos and correspondence, we arranged to meet in the spring of 1999 and, thereafter, we spent several weekends together enjoying the great outdoors. After John placed a notice in the Science Connection Newsletter that he was seeking a female partner for a trip to Alaska, Pat submitted an "application" for consideration. The application was graciously accepted and, on June 24th, we departed together in an R.V. on our Alaska adventure.
The trip turned out to be a most rewarding experience for both of us, and there are many pleasant and cherished memories, including unscheduled stops for treatment of our companion dog's cancer. Although we experienced some differences of opinion on site locations for camping and food selection and preparation, pragmatic solutions were developed in all instances. Further, when petty disagreements arose, we were able to achieve equitable solutions. Expenses and housekeeping chores were shared, and we were often able to select the chores of preference. Our fondest memories resulted from our mutual sensitivity to, and appreciation of, habitat, fauna and flora and we were, indeed, most fortunate to spot and observe a great many animals in the wild (wolves, coyote, bears, caribou, elk, moose, whales, eagles, etc.). Pat displayed an uncanny ability to sight critters at unexpected locations on and off the Alaska Highway, including dense woods.
Our trip was completed without major complications and on schedule, and since our return we have reminisced about the highlights of this unique adventure. We spent approximately one month together before returning to our home states. Both of us continue to be active Science Connection members and we remain the best of friends.
- Unexpected bonus of SC membership I've been a member of SC for the better part of a year. After recently reflecting on whether I should continue my membership for yet another year, I realized that SC more than pays for itself, not because I've met a soulmate, or even someone to have a weekly beer with (haven't come close on either counts, in part because of geographic limitations). Rather, my contacts via this medium have provided me with expertise/world views/insights/humour/feedback that enrich my classroom teaching in myriad ways, most of them indirectly. What a fantastic resource, these friends I've made, most of whom I may never even meet. I sometimes find myself wishing I could join a 'literary connect' service, or a 'political connect' service (imagine anonymous emailing with a lonely Bill Clinton.....!). Of course I haven't given up on finding a kindred spirit that might lead to something more, but in the meantime, this venue definitely serves multiple purposes in a rather unique way. So thanks, Anne, from me (and all my unsuspecting students).
We have had a number of comments like the following: "It seems that so many members have their standards set way too high" and "Your members, as an observable rule, are far too nit-picky to get past initial impressions", or that people have an idealized image of a mate that actually impedes mate finding. Further quotes:
- I realize the common bond among members is science, but some of your members seem so "clinical" in their approach and appear ready to put respondents into petri dishes. What ever happened to pheromones? Not to mention taking the time to get to know someone?
- Most of the men I have contacted are looking for models, while they're not GQ material! I am a diehard romantic and do believe that there is someone for everyone. I hope that all members realize that relationships, whether next door or across the country, take effort.
- I enjoy SC quite a lot, from writing women I think would be interesting and hoping only to
make some kind
of connection, meet a new friend. A portion of your members have this same attitude. I wish more
widen their perspective, not be so narrowly focused on the imaginary model mate. We could have
some fun then.
Science research is often like this too - you can't always approach a new problem directly. You may have to start very far away, and end up solving a problem you hadn't intended to solve.
- Regarding specifications about age, looks, etc.: I try to be respectful of a woman's requests, but often wonder how much they might miss out because of their criteria. For example, I'm 36. I'm very young looking, and my whole group of friends are in their late 20's and early 30's. But if a woman puts in a request for a man '28-35 years old', I won't respond, even though we might both be perfect together. Also, keep in mind that, at least for me, if I see an ad requesting really handsome looks, I will usually skip to the next ad. I am a nice looking guy, but wouldn't be comfortable answering an ad with a stipulation like that - I'm not that secure. And guys - a lot of women you might think are really pretty may not consider themselves so, so the same goes for you if you request a beauty. You might miss the woman of your dreams. Best idea: just include a good photo, and keep all your parameters as wide as possible. You can always say 'no thanks'.
Relationship goals (friendship instead of or along the way to romance)
- I cannot stress too much a suggestion made in the August newsletter: that one meet a new person with the objective of making a friend and having fun rather than of evaluating a potential mate or partner. Although it may become evident fairly early on that, for various reasons, the relationship is unlikely to become permanent, that should not prevent either person from having an enjoyable visit and benefiting from the experience.
- Friendship is always an asset and is a proper basis from which greater things may arise with the accidents of affinity, serendipity of romance, and chance of travel. They tell us that the philosophy of the psychologically well-heeled child is "nothing ventured, nothing gained", an adage relevant to this club.
- I especially agree with the member comment a few months ago that around age 30-40, technology-oriented and a bit socially awkward lonesome males, rather than analyzing a lot of long profiles then making a big play for the number one on their list, should relax and use the great opportunity to correspond and socialize with a variety of women (tactfully but honestly), including some a little older than they, perhaps over the course of a year or two, before getting really "serious" about anyone. The several hours a week on average this takes is certainly not time wasted, and one will need to spend around that much time socializing with a long-term partner in the future anyway to make a relationship viable. The social learning and perspective in that time period could be just what such men (and a few women too) need for eventual happiness on both sides.
- For the one who asks if there is a problem with someone just wanting to be friends, I don't think so. I have always assumed there will be some members who are just looking for friends, some who want romance, some - like me - who are definitely after marriage, if they can manage to find it. I will say that I am also glad for the friendships I've been making along the way, so this has been a worthwhile venture. But if the writer's real complaint is that he or she wanted romance when the members they've contacted sought only friendship, or that he or she wanted only friendship while their correspondents have been hot in pursuit of romance ... sorry. These little incompatibilities exist in life.
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