“I figured ‘Why not?’ I knew there were other Jews like me who didn’t care about the whole religion/God thing. I knew there were like-minded people who come from nagging, kvetching mothers,” Bryan says.
When he filled out his profile, he let his sarcastic personality shine through. He wrote about sharing custody of his dog with an ex-girlfriend, and in response to the question, “If you had to appear on any reality TV show, what would it be?” he answered “To Catch a Predator.”
“If they don’t laugh at that, they’re not going to like me. And if they took me seriously, they’re still not going to like me,” recalls Bryan, a structural engineer who grew up in Raleigh, N.C.
He may have scared off some women, but he made Deborah Temkin laugh. She’d been on JDate for a few months by the time she came across Bryan’s profile in June 2011 and had a collection of dating horror stories to show for it.
But Bryan was cute and seemed normal, so she sent him a message. His subscription had expired by then, but when JDate emailed saying an inquiry was waiting for him, he re-joined the site just to read it.
Soon they were trading messages every day, first through the site and then via online messaging.
“I just remember I was always really entertained when I was talking to him. So I was always really wanting to talk to him,” remembers Deborah, who was finishing her PhD and working on the Department of Education’s bullying prevention initiative at the time.
Deborah’s interest in the prevention of bullying stemmed from her own experience being severely bullied as a child in Phoenix. And although she was now accustomed to speaking in front of crowds and giving interviews, she still struggled to let down her guard in social settings.
But as the weeks passed, she felt increasingly close to Bryan, though their packed schedules had prevented them from meeting in person. Finally, in August, he suggested meeting for dinner on a night she wasn’t busy.
Deborah, perpetually early, waited nervously at an Arlington Thai restaurant for Bryan, who is always late. She’d been on enough disappointing dates before to know not to have high expectations, but she couldn’t help but get her hopes up.
Bryan was in the midst of an intense work project and hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours, but the conversation was flowing so well he suggested they continue it over coffee and dessert. When they finally parted ways, Deborah drove away feeling elated. “It was just a really good synergy and energy,” she says.
They went out again the next week, and over dinner in Chinatown, Bryan revealed himself in ways he’d never done with previous dates. “I took all my cards and put them on the table. I told her where the bodies were buried and was very honest about everything,” he says. “I felt comfortable. And if we were going to continue, I might as well pull back my façade.”