Sunday, January 27, 2008

Online dating

Even when Internet dating was in its infancy, I understood the advantage and disadvantages of the computer as cupid — in a word, dramatically increasing the pool of potential dates, as well as offering options, which is never a bad thing. It gives people an opportunity to “meet” people from different social circles, creating the delightful sense that somebody wonderful is just around the corner (as long as one is able to resist endless corner peering). Then as now, it’s important to online date for a minimum amount of time before going in-life. My basic rule of thumb is that you should have no more than a couple of e-mail chats and phone calls over a couple of weeks before you meet somebody face to face.

The last time I checked, literally millions of people are online dating. On a more personal level, I know 12 couples who met online (not all of whom have admitted to having allowed a computer to match make). Here’s the good news and bad news about online dating.

  • The good news about online dating is that it does increase the number of possibilities and can be morale boosting to see how many people are around and available, plus it gives you an opportunity to shop.
  • The bad news is that it can be impersonal, time consuming, and addictive, with a large dollop of fantasy, and there’s a tendency to shop. People tend not to be incredibly honest about who they are, what they’re looking for, their weight, age, marital history, their past, their sex, whether they’re straight or gay, because it is fantasy. Married people have been known to pretend that they were single; gays, straight; older people, young; young people, older. But if nothing else, it’ll give you the sense that there are people out there.

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