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The Phenomenon of Internet Dating


Over the last 15 years, Internet dating has gained in popularity as a medium to meet romantic partners. Busy single professionals acknowledge having few opportunities to meet other available singles.

I believe the Internet, if used effectively, can be a great tool for screening out the freaks, weirdos, neurotics and game players, and screening in people that live in your general vicinity that you might never otherwise meet.

However, one of the major concerns about the Internet is its integral anonymity and impersonality. It’s of the utmost importance not to let your hunger to meet someone rush you into anything just because it looks good on screen.

The door on Internet dating is wide open for deception and emotional distance. How easy it is to deceive someone about ourselves when we are safely tucked away hundreds or even thousands of miles away. It’s easy to hide our true selves behind the computer terminal and project ourselves to be whatever others want us to be.

“I’ve been talking to this guy online for two months; we finally decided to meet. The weekend was beautiful. Now he wants to end what we have. I don’t understand… he treated me like a queen. He always sent me poems, tapes of songs, and cards. And we did everything on my 3-day visit. Is he just another Internet Lover?”

There you are on the receiving end of the projection, infatuated or “in love” with someone that you’ve never seen, touched, kissed, argued with, and never heard say a word! You may believe you have a relationship when all you really have is a well-scripted seduction in typewritten form.

Another difficulty with the Internet is that people feel free to play with different personas. Perhaps the shy guy who rarely dates plays out his fantasies of being a ladies’ man; the woman who never uses profanity and rarely speaks up for herself becomes an aggressive, smart-mouth. Females may pretend to be a male; marrieds may pretend to be single.

Others indulge in online flirtations, sometimes to the detriment of their marriage. “My wife has spent at least an hour every evening yakking it up in chat rooms. Lately she has been ‘discussing issues’ with one guy in particular. She accuses me of being jealous and insecure; I think she doesn’t need to be spending so much time ‘discussing’ with this guy.”

But let’s assume that your online pal is truly single and not a lunatic. Are there “Miss Manners” etiquette rules for taking a friendly online relationship offline into the real world? Not that I know of. If the curiosity is just too much, suggest the two of you meet. Nothing beats looking someone in the eye as they speak!

No matter how excited you are, keep your expectations of the first meeting in check. Shy or heartbroken individuals may create Internet relationships because they aren’t comfortable with face-to-face intimacy and are there strictly for the entertainment value. Some actually PREFER the anonymity and fantasy of their computer-generated relationships to real life responsibilities of dating, commitment and accountability.

The high-speed communications of the Net provide the means for a relationship to go from first email, mad love and heart-wrenching disappointment in a matter of weeks. Observe recommended precautions and use good common sense about dispensing personal information, just as you would in any other unfamiliar situation. The Internet is a great tool, but not a magic wand!

(c) 2008 deborrah cooper. deborrah has authored dozens of relationship articles and advice columns on ask heartbeat!, which focuses on modern relationships for teens and adults. her dating guide sucka free love! provides street-smart, hilarious insight into the toughest issues facing singles today. check out the sucka free dating radio talk show on wednesday night at 8:00 pm pst.

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Listed: May 7, 2008 12:11 pm