I made a big decision last week, even though I don’t think anyone will notice but me.

On my Jdate profile, I switched the “I am seeking” response from “a long-term relationship” to “marriage and children.”

When I first signed up, nearly a year ago, I was hesitant to check off “marriage and children,” thinking it would scare some potential suitor off. Last week, I decided that I don’t care anymore.

I’m tired of first dates, I’m tired of small talk, I’m tired of talking about my past with somebody who will probably be out of my life in two weeks.

However, I’m not at the point yet that I want to marry just to be married – having been married before, I know how crucial the decision is.

I try to keep an upbeat attitude about dating but lately it has taken a downturn. I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’d rather hang out with friends than go out on any more dates. Conflicting advice wrestles in my head. On one side of the ring: “It happens when you least expect it” (OK, so stop looking, don’t think about it). On the other, “It’s a numbers game” (keep searching and eventually you will find).

I know there’s not only one way to meet the person destined to be your “significant other.” For some there’s a connection at first sight, while for others, it comes after years of friendship. At the very least, I’m glad I’ve decided to do my dating privately rather than on national television.

Last week, the ABC series “The Bachelor” had its season finale.

Twenty-five women went on the initial show to meet the bachelor – Alex, a 31-year-old management consultant. After being introduced to all of these women at a cocktail party, he narrowed his choice to 15.

On the following shows, he goes on group dates, has two of his close friends give the women compatibility tests and narrows the pool down at the end of each show – in a rose ceremony where he hands a rose to the women he wants to hang around.

How romantic.

The six-week show ended with him presenting Amanda, a 23-year-old from a small town in Kansas, with an engagement ring – telling her he’d hold onto it until they date longer and get to know each other better. Good idea, Alex, you don’t want to rush anything.

I guess that’s an improvement on “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire,” where the millionaire selected his wife after a few-hour pageant.

These dating shows intrigue me. On UPN’s “Blind Date,” a couple goes on a blind date while the producers use visual commentary such as thought bubbles and sarcastic remarks to help provide viewers with plenty of fodder to make fun of the couple throughout the show.

Usually, the couple does a fun activity together such as learning how to sword-fight or dance the samba. Next they go for dinner to check out each other’s table manners and share intimate conversation such as “So, are you a member of the Mile-High Club?” By the end of the date, the couple often either ends up in a hot tub or in a fistfight.

Then there’s “Dismissed,” an MTV show where threesomes, usually in their early 20s, go on a date and the two men or two women compete for the single member of the opposite sex by trying to plan and execute a better date than the other. Each competitor also gets to give the other a “time-out,” which is when the third party leaves for a few minutes, allowing for either genuine conversation or a make-out session. The loser is “dismissed” at the end of the evening. The guy usually chooses the woman with the biggest breasts. I don’t know how the woman chooses because the guys usually act like idiots.

On UPN’s “The 5th Wheel,” five gossipy singles date. It starts out with two men and two women and then a fifth man or woman joins the date, flirting, causing trouble and mixing things up.

These are only a few “reality” dating games – then there’s the truly awful shows, the ones where couples put their relationship on the line, such as Warner Brothers’ “Change of Heart,” where members of an unsatisfied couple go on a blind date with somebody else. The dates join the couple on the show where they discuss and watch videos of the dates. The show concludes with the members of the original couple holding up either a “Stay Together” or “Change of Heart” sign.

I’m not quite sure of the details of “Temptation Island,” since I haven’t made it through one complete show. Basically, it’s a lot of good-looking “committed” couples who stay on a tropical island and try to withhold the temptation to cheat with good-looking singles who are determined to test the couple’s faithfulness.

While I find the dating shows a guilty pleasure, the shows such as “Change of Heart” and “Temptation Island” repel me. The couples often show up teary-eyed on camera, upset that their boyfriend or girlfriend would mess around with another. What did they think would happen? Don’t they realize that when they find that “special someone,” it’s stupid to jeopardize it?

I’m not sure why these shows fall in the “reality” genre, they’re not similar to any reality I’ve faced. Who wants a camera following them around to record every awkward moment and have millions of people witness their stupidity? I wonder how many of these contestants actually get another date after the show airs.

But maybe that’s just me.

This article first appeared in the May 3, 2002 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.