16 November 2012

Travis and Tawkify: Not a Match

You may recall, Dear Reader, that I signed up with Tawkify earlier this year. They're an online match-making service that operates by having actual human beings look through the profiles of clients for compatibility. I joined in late June. It wasn't until late September that they finally found me a match, and then that didn't pan out because when she got to the dive bar our handler chose for our blind date, she felt so uncomfortable that she refused to come inside and she left.

I received the following email on 1 November from my matchmaker:
Hello Travis!

We're trying something new at Tawkify -- assigning a matchmaker who best relates to you! Your new matchmaker, Keith, lives in a sparsely populated state as well and understands exactly how hard it is to find love where options are slimmer than Robinson Crusoe's waistline.

I had the most fun looking for Melody Gardot! Alas, we must part, but I feel that Keith's fresh outlook will add more spontaneity into your life.

With love,
I interpreted this as a frustrated matchmaker passing the buck. She'd had my case since June and the only match she managed to make was the debacle referenced above. Still, I hadn't paid for the Tawkify service and where was the harm in letting someone new take a whack at it? Keith found me a match and set me up for a phone call this time, rather than a blind date. It was set for tonight at 8:00. Here's the entire conversation, which lasted all of two minutes and fourteen seconds (and that includes the automated greeting from Tawkify asking me to press "1" on my dial menu to activate the call):
Her: "Um, hi? My name is Elizabeth."
Me: "Hi. I'm Travis."
Her: "I just left the office. I had to work late."
Me: "Fun."
Her: "Yeah. What do you do?"
Me: "Oh. Yeah, I hadn't wanted to get to this right off the bat, but it's fair to get it out of the way. I'm a leech on society because I have Crohn's disease and that's incompatible with the work place. I understand if that's an issue for you."
Her: "What?"
Me: (repeat)
Her: "Yeah, that's not going to work. But good luck. You sound like a nice guy."
Me: "Thanks." (which she may or may not have heard because she had already hung up)
I was particularly annoyed by this because I had emphasized to both Tawkify matchmakers what my situation was, with the expectation that they would screen out women for whom that was going to be a deal-breaker. Instead, it feels as though the only thought that went into the match was that we were in the same general area and of opposite genders. I cannot imagine an attentive matchmaker - particularly one who allegedly checked out this blog when he took over my profile - failing to suss out something like how open-minded the woman would be about my health and money situations.

I reported this to Keith, adding that I was upset that I had been put in this situation by Tawkify. Here's how he responded:
Hi Travis, My friend I'm terribly sorry you had a bad experience and, yes, we'll try something else, but let's review your part in this fiasco. "I'm a leech on society because I have Crohn's disease and that's incompatible with the workplace." That's tactless. That's putting a shotgun to the head of a conversation. I mean, I know, you've got health issues, job issues, mental issues, emotional issues, whatever, but why would you lead with that? I mean, I. personally, have extraordinary mental health, psychological, and financial issues, but I don't introduce myself that way to polite society. I appreciate your profile and your idiosyncracies. But think of how you present yourself. Just be nice, intelligent, erudite, empathetic! I'm frankly horrified that you would present yourself with such acerbic anger and a touch of self-loathing. I'm sorry you had a horrible experience, but there is so much to be learned from this little humiliation in how you present yourself to other people. However, I wish you a wonderful evening. Keith
Note that Keith failed to acknowledge that I was put on the spot by the very first question that the woman asked. He instead blames me for "lead[ing] with that." Never mind that I stated myself that I hadn't wanted to open with that. Nor is there any allowance for how I should have answered her. I've been jumped on Facebook by several people for the same thing, but here's the problem: there is no honest, acceptable way of answering that question. None. I will not lie or deceive her or anyone else.

You know, people pitch this big fit about how dishonest people are today, but this situation of mine is a great microcosm of why that is. No one has actually praised me for being forthright with her. Instead, like Keith, they've bashed me for it. It's not Keith's fault for failing to pay attention to how compatible I, someone who doesn't work because of his health, might be with a woman who values employment. It's my fault for not finessing things better.

It's a good thing we never even got to things like my battle with depression, still being legally married or, God forbid, my liberal politics! That reminds me: Earlier in the week I tried to emphasize to Keith the importance to me personally that any match he may make be compatible with my politics. His response? "Don't talk about politics." I simply don't believe that anyone who has actually even looked at this blog of mine could fail to understand how important socio-political issues are to me. What kind of chances would I have at forming a relationship with a woman who opposed LGBTQ equality, for instance, given how protective I am of my LGBTQ friends? Or how accepted I could ever feel with a woman who thought Mitt Romney was right to say that 47% of the American people are just moochers, given that I'm one of them?

My greatly agitated reply to Keith:
It's worth noting that I didn't "choose" to "lead" with this. She put me on the spot with the very first question of the conversation. I had no choice but to be honest with her. I tried to demonstrate that I have a sense of humor about being in such a miserable situation. I did the best I could with it. The problem was not "how I presented myself". The problem is that I have very real and legitimate issues and sweeping them under the rug as best I can is not an acceptable approach. 
It's clear to me that Tawkify is not up to the task of handling a client like myself. I'm disappointed but I understand that it's much easier to make matches for healthy, gainfully employed clients than people like me. At least this woman rejected me for who I am and not where we were assigned to meet like the last woman Tawkify tried to match me with.
I will be chronicling this experience in my blog, as I did with my previous disappointment. I hope Tawkify succeeds and helps make lots of other people happy, but it clearly isn't going to work out for me.
And his final, succinct reply:
Well, Travis. We'll remove your profile from the site. I look forward to reading the blog post which I'm sure will be insightful and humorous. At least art will be made from the experience. Best, Keith
That's it. No apology for failing to make a match, no appeal to me to give them another chance, no "I'll do better next time." Just, "See ya!" I can easily picture Keith exhaling a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to deal with me now and can focus on easier clients, ones who have a lot less baggage and are a lot more willing to lie to cover up that baggage to their matches.

I don't deny that I'm difficult to match with women. I've got some hefty baggage. I have some selling points, though, candidness and honesty among them. I lost what remaining confidence I had in Tawkify when my matchmaker berated me for actually demonstrating those qualities and for not spinning my situation. If I wanted to just lie my way into a relationship, I wouldn't have needed a matchmaker in the first place! I have no remaining confidence in Tawkify. There was no evidence that either matchmaker really understood my needs or my selling points. Maybe they did try. I just know I feel that they're a one-size-fits-all organization and that they're happier not having to deal with misfits like me.

Somewhere in the Louisville Metro area is a woman named Crystal who feels that Tawkify is a shady operation setting her up for abduction at a dive bar and another woman named Elizabeth who's having drinks right now with her friends, grousing that they wasted her time by setting her up on a phone date with a complete and total loser (i.e., me). To them I would simply say that I empathize with their aggravation and if they should read this post and recognize themselves, I'll happily meet up with you sometime and we can go over just how let down we've been by Tawkify.

While I was piecing together this blog post, Keith sent the following message which I just saw:
But that said, friend, there is a lid for every pot. Should the right girl appear, we'll let you know. We're on your side, ultimately, and don't beat yourself up too much that this Tawkify experience didn't go well. Dating is a silly game with a plethora of vagaries. You plowed forward with blunt honesty and you were yourself. I She shouldn't have hung up on you. I empathize.
Sure. Whatever. Funny how he went from "We'll remove your profile" to "We're on your side".


  1. Wow, that sucks how Keith responded. It does sound like he was relieved that you gave up on Tawkify. He was definitely blunt and undiplomatic at the least!

    I hope you didn't feel like I was berating you-I was just trying to show the female side. I personally would be a bit stunned and like, oh, well, that's a weighty issue for someone to bring up the first time I talk to them. I personally wouldn't have hung up or not met with you, but I would have been a bit taken aback. But, also, I couldn't hear how you said it, either. If you were laughing, I would have totally taken it a lot lighter (and I think you said that but I didn't see it until later) than she seems to have.

    I do have to qualify that I grew up with someone (My dad, I think I've mentioned-not to mention myself the last year and a half) with chronic health problems so I know how difficult they can be and that why they can totally affect your life, health and mental well being so I may be a bit more open than then next girl.

    But I don't want you to give up, Travis! The only deal breaker in all that you've written is that you're still legally married! I'm going to assume that you're working on this! :)

    I've mentioned before, I wish you lived closer! You are funny, a good writer, intelligent and have several similar hobbies as I do, films being one of them.

    There is someone out there for you, Travis. There has to be otherwise I think I will join you in depression and I just won't do that! Lori

    1. Again, I want to reiterate that it was not my choice to discuss this at all, much less the very first thing. She asked the question and I had no recourse but to be forthright. She put me on the spot before I ever had a chance to discuss anything else. My only option was to choose dishonesty and that's not my style.

      I understand that most people aren't comfortable being blitzed with misery up front. I haven't accumulated such a strong system of friends, pals and acquaintances without knowing what to tell and when to be quiet. Whatever else anyone in my life might say about me, I am confident that they would all agree I'm honest. For Keith to summarily dismiss me as "tactless" was particularly upsetting as I've prided myself over the years - rightly, I might add - on my diplomatic skills.

      I thank you for the kind words, though, and if I'm being honest I particularly appreciate that you listed my being "funny" ahead of being "a good writer," "intelligent" or having the same hobbies as you. I've believed for most of my life that perhaps my single strongest attribute is my sense of humor. It's nice to see that recognized. :)

  2. I totally understand that she asked first off what you do and that you wanted to tell her and be honest about it. I know you'd rather have a different start point all together! I'm also not arguing that Keith was very tactless and should have been on your side even if he didn't agree with your actions. I'd be pissed at him too!

    I don't think anyone is saying that you're not good with people or confident-I think we're all just trying to help you out. It's coming from a good place even if it's not helping right now. :) People are just concerned for you!

    I'm glad that I could give some kind words-it was total luck that it came first on the list but I stand by it!

  3. I'm so sorry Tawkify didn't work for you! I would be put off by being called "tactless" by someone whom I'd think is an ally. I really believe she wasn't trying to see how much you made. I think she just didn't know what to say and since she was just trying to get out of work she was trying to make conversation? Anyway, I hope you find a method that works with you. I do like Keith's followup message, but I can understand why you feel like that bridge is burned. Maybe third time's a charm?

    1. She wasn't after a specific dollar figure, but she made it very clear that my not being employed was the deal-breaker. She could have asked any follow-up question she wanted. We were scheduled for a fifteen minute phone call, and the moment she found out about my health/work situation, she went directly to wishing me luck and hanging up. She wasn't even interested in spending the rest of our scheduled thirteen minutes to find out anything about me.

      As for Tawkify in general, I just don't feel that my personal experience corresponds at all to the characterization that you and I read several months ago of a diligent, attentive matchmaking service. I feel as though neither of my two "matches" should ever have been made, and attentive matchmakers would have caught that. I don't know if they were under some kind of pressure to demonstrate activity, meet a quota for matches or what, but I have no confidence in Tawkify after these two experiences.

  4. This is forever late, but THIS is how far behind I am on my Google Reader backlog. Anyway, I just wanted to say kudos to you. I am completely not in favor of lying about who you are or what you deal with just to make the first impression you're "supposed" to make. Because apparently it's healthier to make somebody like you first and then spring something major on them later after you've already reeled them in. While obviously starting off a first date by rattling off every single one of your faults isn't a good idea, if the subject comes up (as it did in this situation), honesty *is* the best policy. If it's an issue, it's an issue, and it's better to know now than to spend a lot of "what if?" time when it turns out that was some sort of dealbreaker all along.

    1. Thank you, Hannah. I've been surprised by how many people have taken the stance that I botched this. I've been told repeatedly that my presentation was the real problem and that I should have "finessed" the discussion. I really did not expect to take heat for being up front and honest.