Conscious Love: Online Dating for the Spiritually Minded
I stare at the blank form on the website — the one that invites me to open my heart and pursue my soul mate via a labyrinth stocked with eligible men. I breeze through the questionnaire: How “green” am I? What are my spiritual beliefs? What is my ayurvedic type?
This one give me pause. What did I learn in that Vedic astrology session … ? Oh yes! Happily, I type the word p-i-t-t-a in the space. But what exactly does that mean? I could not recall, so I hit Google. Pitta is “ambitious by nature but also can be demanding and abrasive.”
Yikes—do I really want that on a profile if I’m trying to get dates? Absolutely, I decide. This is a website for “conscious singles,” and men who populate the site will be interested in the true me —and not a false picture of someone younger, sleeker, and more deferential.
I think. Hope does spring eternal.
Despite having written about single life for more than a decade, I had never dated online in any serious way. In that regard, I was singular among my single friends—the Luddite left on the platform at the train station. After all, according to marketresearch.com, the dating services business is now a $2.1 billion industry in the U.S. alone, with niche websites gobbling up ever-larger slices of that pie. Still, I remained gun-shy—thanks to overexposure to online dating’s downside.
Readers of my early ’00s newspaper column emailed me with hundreds of horror stories, and sometimes their experiences would bring tears to my eyes. One woman waited for her first date with a man she’d met online, sitting at an outdoor table at the appointed place and time. A car pulled up close and slowed down; she thought she recognized the driver as her date. He gave her the once-over, and just as she raised her hand to wave, the car sped away.
And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Stunning tales of similarly dehumanizing behaviors abounded, and it also became clear that pretty much everyone was lying on their online profiles, often underreporting their age and weight. No, thanks, I thought.
I was more than capable of getting into my own romantic scrapes and didn’t need a website to exacerbate my bad decision making.
But just recently, I heard of an entirely new niche in the online dating market, for “conscious singles.” In this case, being conscious means living life in a thoughtful way, following a spiritual path, valuing nonsuperficial things when seeking a life partner. My heart leapt up. Perhaps my age (middle) and shape (no longer thin) and strong personality (pitta, remember?) might not be detriments in this brave new dating world.
“You should try it!” urged my friend Marc, an herbalist in San Francisco who met a wonderful woman on ConsciousSingles.com. “It’s basically for people who are sick of the factory vibe of the huge sites like Match.com, OkCupid.com and eHarmony.com. The values are