Depth vs. Image in the world of Online Dating: Dating a guy on a respirator?

Something about January has me back on Match these days. I have spent the better part of a year trying to meet new people the old fashioned way, in person. I joined a gym, started participating in a writing meetup (I highly recommend meetup.com for getting yourself out there and meeting others with common interests), even started Salsa dancing on Friday nights. I now have some awesome new friends, but I haven't dated.

So, I dug up my old profile and turned it back on. I even coughed up some money for an auto-renewing 1 month subscription. The emails, winks and interests started rolling in. Back when I was getting a little Match-weary, I updated my profile to be a real heart-on-your sleeve affair. I mentioned that I was widowed, how it had become a part of who I was, how I had written a book and how it was all about the "journey." OK, perhaps not the most uplifting of profiles, but truly honest. It was this profile that resurfaced again last week. The result is that almost all the interest I received has been from men who are at least 10 years older. Some commented on my honesty. Not one held any interest for me.

Now at the risk of sounding like the completely shallow, mean person who will no doubt burn in hell, the clincher came when I received this email"

Would you consider going out with someone in a wheelchair?

Really? Welcome to my dating nirvana! And I wonder why I went off Match?

When I clicked through to his profile I learned that this wasn't just a man in a wheelchair, but a man on a respirator, in one of those wheelchairs that he drives using his mouth, someone who has a degenerative disease.

I don't think its knowing that he is on a nasty path of degeneration that causes me to hesitate. The death part I can handle (I think). Its the care giving part. As my kids get older, my caregiver role has gotten easier (though I write this between trips upstairs with trays of food for Carter who has sprained his ankle). I can't do it.

I keep trying to picture the date, waiting for his his respirator to breathe for him so he can answer a question (like Chistopher Reeve), wondering how he's going to feed himself, worrying about inadvertently raising the topic of sex or horseback riding. Awkward. And then there is the question good night kiss. As much as I want to say I am the kind of person who would go on a date with this man who I'm sure is very lovely, I hate realizing I'm not.

Which is how I came to realize that my profile wasn't working for me. I wasn't attracting the type of man I was hoping to date, you know the kind who has the use of at least one of his legs and can breathe on his own. I sat down and re-wrote my profile, something funny, irreverent, something that really says very little about me. I put up my tarty Halloween pic.

So, the experiment is on. If two days of match.com emails are any indication of the result, then the median age of my respondents has dropped by 10 years, and a few even seem interesting. Have I sacrificed potential depth and understanding for image and a shallow irreverence. Is that OK?

Its not too late to go out with Mr. Respirator...