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The landscape of romance has changed. Dating and the rules that govern it have been transformed by the collision of tenacious old expectations and an exploding technological age.

emily flake The Globe and Mail

Facts & Arguments is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines.

I once froze a woodpecker that killed itself by flying into my kitchen window. It was warm when I found it, but definitely dead. Not knowing what I planned to do with it, I put it in the freezer, with some wild notion of getting it stuffed or maybe putting it in an artwork as surrealist Joseph Cornell did with his Cockatoo series.

Strangely, the dead woodpecker reminded me about my preoccupation with the magical "other." You know, that person who could make me happy, meet my deepest needs and repair my childhood wounds.

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When birds crash into windows, they must see their enchanting reflection, think it's another bird, and try to merge with it, never recognizing themselves in the glass.

Being crazy-out-of-your-mind in love is something like that, when we cast ourselves onto another with the magical belief that they'll give us all the happiness and connection we yearn for and are promised.

Many of us at the tip of the baby boom have lost our long-time spouses to illness or have embraced separation as an alternative to hanging in there when a marriage is no longer working. But even with the wisdom of our mature experience, we are still driven to try to find that magic person.

However, the landscape of romance has changed. Dating and the rules that govern it have been transformed by the collision of tenacious old expectations and an exploding technological age.

Most of us are a lot wiser than we were at 21, but the dream of finding our perfect match is alive and well, thriving in vivid clarity on online dating sites. We're floundering in the strange new world of Internet dating, where sites reproduce exponentially like bunny rabbits promising warm fuzzy bits, but never the hard, herbaceous pellets.

Sites for Christians, Dharma lovers, seniors and all those other fish in the sea looking for lava light, promise a magical union with the elusive missing piece in our lives.

We sign up timidly to sites that guarantee to match us with a like-minded person. If we're lucky, when we meet there will be that unexplainable chemistry.

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I faithfully posted a ream of photographs of myself and responded to questions about my likes and dislikes, preferences, interests, values and character. I was assured I wouldn't have to spend hopeless hours leafing through oodles of profiles by myself. They would send me only the ones that matched my own.

I don't want to be critical of men but, so help me, their actual profiles are thin on the ground. Most men say nothing at all about themselves – if you're lucky they may have posted a photograph, but 80 per cent of the time there is no written profile or anything else to distinguish one man from the hundreds of others on a site.

Those who do take the full five minutes to write a profile are always honest, caring, have a sense of humour, do not play mind games and know how to treat a woman.

They love their grandchildren, don't smoke, drink only occasionally, love dogs and are looking for someone with whom to kayak, golf or motorcycle with.

All this is very nice, but totally generic and repeated in profile after profile in identical words. (Besides, I can't hit a golf ball and my kayaking days are over, though I would try motorcycling.)

They like to cuddle on the couch, drink a nice glass of wine and every one of them loves to cook. Really?

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If they articulate what they want in a partner, it is a woman without baggage (good luck with that!), comfortable in her own skin (what woman ever was?) and who does not play mind games (as if they never do).

Meanwhile, they respond to flirts or messages with such comments as: "Your photo indicates you're not my kind of woman, or one I would want on my arm." Or they pronounce beneath their own photograph of a bald, wrinkle-faced man with a pot belly: "I prefer a slimmer, younger woman."

So I tried a new tactic: If I did a thoroughly honest profile of myself, I thought, including my values and some personality things a man might worry about, then the match could decide for himself if he really did want an honest woman, and then make contact.

It hardly ever happens, and when it does the man lives in Timbuktu. If you don't handle rejection well, don't try this at home alone.

I am finally overriding the merciless litany of desired coupledom perpetuated by our culture.

I might dig that woodpecker out of the bottom of the freezer, stuff it and stick it in a box of love paraphernalia – wine, roses, a paper moon, perhaps a cardboard prince – as my own surrealist artwork.

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And however wonderful, even compulsory, it seems to follow the magic dream, I think I'm gonna go it alone.

Wendy Weseen lives in Kamloops.

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