Friday, April 9, 2010

The Promise and Perils of Internet Dating

Fun Facts
• 30% of America’s 80 million baby boomers are single.
• U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004 and over $500 million in 2005. No doubt the number is even higher now.
• Online dating sites comprise the largest segment of paid content, other than pornography, on the Internet.
Let me get something out of the way from the get-go. My husband and I met on line. He had been on the ‘net looking for me for about three years. I had only been online for about three months when he spotted my profile and wrote to me.
Although we had lived only 6 or 7 minutes away from each other for two years, our paths had never crossed. Not at the post office, nor at the grocery store, or on a walking trail. We simply never would have met were it not for the Internet. To say we are both grateful for this modern day Yenta would be a gross understatement. Clearly, it has helped us find the level of happiness, contentment, mutuality, and comfort we have searched for for decades. To make matters even sweeter, in marrying Paul, I gained six grandchildren and one great grandchild, each of whom, of course, is the best thing since sliced bread.
I had such a lovely conversation this week with Lynn Lorberg on her online dating experiences for my radio show, “Relationships 101” on That segment will air this Monday, April 12th and I invite any online daters or those contemplating it to tune in.
So I decided to offer some tips on how to maximize the opportunity that Dating 2.0 provides while protecting yourself from its pitfalls. I recognize that these suggestions are common sense. However, because it is easy to get swept up in fantasies of who others are and of the relationship you could have, so take a good long look at them anyway.
Tips for Maximizing the Opportunity Internet Dating Provides
• Do not misrepresent yourself in your profile just because you think that will make you more attractive to a potential mate. While doing so is certainly unfair to people reading your profile, you are short changing and undermining yourself.
• Be clear in your profile about who you are and what you are looking for in the other person. For example, my radio guest, Lynn Lorberg, comes out and tells potential suitors, “I’m a petite blonde. If what you’re looking for is a leggy brunette, I’m not for you. And that’s okay.”
• Be respectful of other people’s time just as you would expect them to be of yours. If you mislead people by lying about who you are, you are wasting everyone’s time. And it’s not rocket science to say that no solid relationship can be built on a foundation of lies.
• Don’t post a photo of yourself when you were decades younger or had a full head of hair. This only will mislead. Misleading snuffs out any possibilities for a genuine relationship before it has a chance to generate sparks. And as Shakespeare said, “The truth will out.”
• Get good at asking questions of a potential suitor. Then sit back and listen carefully to the answers you get. Do the words and the music go along? Do the answers you get pass the smell test?
• Even if all of the people you meet on line aren’t potential suitors because of distance or any number of other good reasons, if you have been honest and respectful with each other, you just may have made some friends in the process.
• Develop your intuition. Your gut can become a very reliable guide in the choices you make. Learn to recognize when your fists clench or you get a headache or your mind drifts off. These are messages that something just doesn’t feel right. You may not know immediately what those unconscious messages are telling you. But you’ll need to figure it out.
Strategies for Protecting Yourself from Its Perils
• E-mail before you talk on the phone, and talk before you meet face to face.
• When you do decide to meet, do so at a coffee shop or other public place where you are known and there are others around. Having a cup of coffee isn’t the major time commitment that having dinner together is. This will give you a graceful out if you simply don’t click. Do not be afraid to excuse yourself and leave as soon as you know it is senseless to continue.
• Don’t take it personally if someone you think might be dandy is just not into you. There is no point in trying to force the ugly stepsister’s shoe into Cinderella’s glass slipper. In fact, be grateful for this realization.
• Don’t confuse a virtual relationship for a real face-to-face one. Sooner or later, you will need to meet in order for both of you to gauge the level of chemistry between you. It does not take long before you know that a room full of chemists could not make you effervesce. Be sure to meet only when both of you are ready and do not allowed yourself to be pressured to meet before you are truly ready. Someone seeking a true partner will not be in a great rush.
• Get the other person’s home and office numbers. If s/he balks at giving them both to you and only wants you to have a cell number, there’s a pretty good chance this is a married person on the prowl. In which case, simply say, “Next!”
• For you ladies, when it is time for a real night out and not simply meeting someone for a glass of wine after work or a walk in the park insist on driving your own car. This way should the evening really turn bad you can simply leave.
• If you are young and less experienced with dating, you will need to be more cautious than you would be if you are dating, say, someone in your English class or who is a member of your church, mosque or synagogue, or whom your aunt knows.
• Chances are, the people you meet online will be complete strangers where there is no way to vet them other than by how they conduct themselves with you. If anything at all doesn’t feel right, or if things just don’t add up, honor your gut feelings and don’t pursue a relationship with this person.
Tune in to my conversation with Lynn Lorberg next Monday, April 12th on “Relationships 101” on You’ll be glad you did. And as always, remember that I offer a complimentary consultation on an issue of your choosing. Just call my toll free number (888-546-1580) to arrange this.