Only the lonely

Even the lucky among us have looked for love in the wrong places. I remember suffering through agonizing get-to-know-each-other lunches at which we both promised to call but never did. During one traumatic blind date in the way back, I immediately nicknamed the unfortunate woman The Brontosaurus. You certainly have your own horror stories; it’s the nature of the beast.

Of course, that was in the pre-online-dating era. Since then, a profile and JPEG have become almost mandatory, although those both can be doctored. But online dating has always seemed so full of technology and devoid of honest, spontaneous feelings, and it also seems desperate. Can’t people rely on their charm and social skills anymore? I guess not, because it is estimated that 3 million people are now trying to hook up online. Simply look at the people in the next cubicles to see who is doing it. Maybe they think they can screen out the potential dinosaurs, but they can’t. It’s all a crapshoot, online or off.

The screening process is tougher when the potential love is on another continent, in a place like Russia. And yet, it seems some for-pay services would make it simple for the modern American man just by screening out the modern American women. We’re talking about the booming Russian-bride business featured in this week’s cover story. One company’s brochure sells the aspects it thinks many American men will respond to: “Russian women are affectionate, family-oriented and, unlike American women, comfortable with their femininity.” The brochure goes on to say its women are “pleasers, rather than competitors.” OK, family values and passivity! But, of course, this run at long-distance, mail-order love is complicated and, for some, tragic.