Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On-Line Dating – Comparing it to Picking out a Book

computer Pictures, Images and Photos

Because today is “Wednesday’s Hot Topics – Anything Goes” and because I happen to be working on a short story involving this idea, I decided to bring up the controversial world of On-Line Dating. Although I don’t actually have first-hand knowledge of this subject (I met my husband when I was 16 and married him two years later), I do have a brother-in-law who found love this way. Of course, I did see some of the scary women he met before he found “the one” and it leaves me to wonder about the odds. How does someone choose their potential date when they know nothing about that person other than what “they” want you to believe?

Being an outsider with this limited knowledge, I can only compare it to the way I pick a new book to read. If I don’t already have a connection with the author, I automatically go for the cover (straight for those Hunky Heroes). Then, and only then, do I turn the book over and read the back blurb. If it catches my interest, I’ll buy it. Unfortunately, this is not a full proof method. Too many times I’ve found myself tossing the book completely because I ended up hating it.

As I started digging deeper into the whole process of on-line dating, I went from questioning everything about it to realizing it might not be all that different from the way people date in the physical world. Just like with picking out a book, single people put themselves into situations where they can meet potential dates. They check out the covers, approach those that interest them, strike up a conversation to get that back cover blurb, then “buy” the product by agreeing to or asking the other person out on a date. Just like with my books, they read a few chapters and then decide if they want to continue with the relationship.

After making this comparison, I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier I was able to relate to the world of on-line dating. In fact, where I had originally been nervous about the potential craziness of the whole idea, I realized it was pretty close to dating in the physical world. All the steps are there; that initial attraction to the cover (or photo), the perusing of the back cover blurb (or bio), the purchase of the book (initial contact), then the reading of those first few chapters (dating).

Sounds pretty simple, but after meeting some of those wacky women my brother-in-law dated, I have to wonder if it is. Then I look at the love he found with my sister-in-law and am thankful he had the courage to take that chance. If he hadn’t, then he would have missed out on a really great lady.

What do you think about the phenomenon of on-line dating? Anyone have first-hand experience to share with us? I promise it won’t end up in my story….grin….

32 comments:

Tammy Schubert said...

Confession time. Before I met my husband, I had a blast with online dating. I met so many wonderful people. Okay, there were some wacky and crazy along with two scary people.

The trick to safe online dating is to handle the first few dates like you would with any other stranger you met. DON'T invite him to your home. DON'T even tell them where you live. Meet him at very public places so you are in a safe environment where both of you are comfortable. Only after you start getting to know him (after meeting him for several dates), you can get a little more personal.

Oh, and don't believe everything you read in a profile. Ask him about things he mentioned in his profile. When you meet face to face, you get a sense for whether the person is embellishing or flat out lying. Nobody I dated (and I dated a lot) lied on their profile. They didn't provide false pictures either. What I saw on the computer was what I got in person for the most part.

This was a great experience. If I were single, I would do it again. Although I didn't meet the love of my life online, I met a lot of terrific people from all walks of life. We just didn't have the right chemistry, and that has nothing to do with where you find a date.

Tami, great post. Thanks for bringing it up and provoking some great memories.

Cyrano said...

Tammi,
I loved your post and its great analogies. I mentioned once before on PFHT that I don't have personal experience with online dating, but I know three people who actually met and married their online sweetheart. All three couples are still happily married, one is expecting their first child and another their second. I'm glad it worked for them.
I do have another friend who is web dating and she's having a hard time sifting through the good and bad. Unfortunatley she's found more bad than good, but she's optomistic that this is a good way to meet a partner. I agree.
I'm happily married for fifteen years now and I honestly believe If I weren't I'd try out online dating. Like Tammy said, maybe I wouldn't find the love of my life, but I sure would meet some interesting people. And plus, people can lie to your face as easily as they can on a computer screen. You have to use good judgment and common sense in either situation.
Great blog!
Have a fantastic week.
Tamara

CiCi Barnes said...

No experience there. On-line dating didn't exist when I went through the phase. In fact, neither did the internet. We barely had computers -- big hulky things that took up huge warehouse rooms. Okay, I know, I'm dating myself. Older than dirt.

At any rate, it's pretty scary. I like your analogy, Tami, likening it to picking out a book. But somehow, I feel safer taking a chance on a book I know nothing about than I would with a guy.

I guess, being a math teacher, I'm more atune to the odds of getting a dud or worse, but kudos to those
who have the guts to try it and get a favorable outcome.

And, hey, I think a shy girl taking a chance on-line and finding 'the one' would make a great book. Probably, somewhere out there, one's already been written.

CiCi

Helen Hardt said...

No experience with online dating. I met my wonderful husband long before online dating was available, LOL. But I think it's a great resource, and wonderful fodder for us writers!

Helen
www.helensheroes.blogspot.com

Anna Steffl said...

I think us writers would really gravitate towards the online dating thing. I know I'd try it if I was in the market. Hey,you get a chance to introduce yourself using your talent!

Linsey Lanier said...

I think I'd try it if I were in the market, but Tammy S's words of warning are good to heed. I write romantic suspense, so you know where my mind is going with this scenario. Date turns out to be a stalker or a sadistic kidnapper? But of course there'd be a hero, maybe another online date the heroine rejected, to save her by cleverly finding her IP address?

Anyway, I have two friends who tried online dating. One found the love of her life and just celebrated her seventh wedding anniversary – yes, the Internet is at least that old. My other friend thought everyone she dated was a dud, but she had no frightening experiences. She married a guy she met while working in a record store. There’s another cool idea for a story.

Great post, Tammy!

Linsey

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi,

Great post. Like CiCi, on-line dating wasn't even a twinkle in Bill Gate's eyes when I was dating & getting married.

Personally, I don't think I'd ever try it. Call me old fashioned, call me chicken...I'll agree to both...but after several decades with one guy, I'm not sure I'd even be up to training another one.

None of my kids used it...found theirs the old fashioned way like their mother, however, I know it's worked for some people and that's great.

I loved the comparison, but I'll stick with the one guy I've got and buying 5-10 books at a time to spend time with... (I'm whispering here)... on the side.

Sandy

Sandy

Marilyn Baron said...

They didn't have online dating when I met my husband but I don't think I would have tried it.

One of my daughters, on the other hand, has had some hilarious experiences with online dating. I've used some of them in my manuscripts. Most of the guys lie on their profiles. They say they don't smoke and then they show up smoking on the date and then they're at least two inches shorter in person than they say they are in their profiles. So far she hasn't found The One online but I admire her for trying and putting herself out there, sort of what we do as writers.

But I do know of two people who found their matches on line and are living happily ever after. So it's possible.

Marilyn Baron

Pamela-reader said...

Hello there! I'm a real life success story for online dating. I don't mind if some of the following ends up in a story somewhere, but I'd have to say Linsey would get first dibs.

Yep, I'm her real-life example she mentioned above. In hindsight, I'm even amazed on how detailed (and paranoid) I was. Since it's the topic today, I'll give you all the juicy details...

First of all, my first marriage lasted 12 years after dating him for 6 years... so I'd been totally out of the dating world for 18 years - can you say "scared to death"???? On one hand, while (like the strong heroines in your books) I don't feel like I *have* to constantly have a man, they are certainly handy to have around. Besides, I was due for some fun and flattery!

While I like parties and such, bars & dance clubs didn't seem like such a bright idea for finding someone meaningful. I had a few clubs that were giving me great support at the time and I didn't want to lose that support by dating people in my clubs. So, what was I to do??? Online!

I'd certainly heard all the horror stories, so here's what I did to make sure I stayed safe...

Debbie Kaufman said...

The timing of your post is right on for me. A friend of mine from Florida just sent me a profile that she was looking at on a match site. She wanted my opinion. One of the last guys she had talked to turned out to be a scam artist.
Fortunately, she didn't get too far with him before it was figured out.

On the other hand, I know a couple who met online and is happily married. True love comes in a lot of ways!

Pamela-reader said...

First, I took some precautions up front. I got a "ringmaster" 2nd phone number - this is one where it uses the same phone line, but gives a double ring for that number. (I did this so that if a wierdo started harassing me, I didn't have to change my REAL phone number!) I rented a PO Box in case someone wanted to mail me something so they wouldn't get my address. Next, I got a nice small 3-ring binder to take notes in. (This is the good part!)

I put my ads up on two sites and made myself a vow that *anyone* who politely responded to my ad would get a polite response back, whether or not *I* was interested in them. (I've had friends put ads up & then freak out & not respond to any of them because they were afraid to take the step.) I figured that any guy that got up the nerve to respond to an ad, deserved the courtesy of a response.

Now, here's what I did... After emailing a bit, the guy would want a number, so I'd give him my new number. Here's the routing I was in, when the nice little double ring happened, I knew it was "A GUY" because thats the only people who had that number. That was my signal to get the phone *AND* my notebook and get comfortable.

Each guy had his own page, some had two. Every little detail they told me got jotted down... Guy A says he's divorced. Guy B says he is in marketing. Guy C says he's got a 3 year old. I also wrote down details I told them so I wouldn't get mixed up in who I had told what.

Now, because I wasn't going to let myself be desperate, I made guys email and phone me for a couple of weeks before I'd meet them in person. This gave me a really great opportunity to weed out the liars.

You see, unless someone is really, really mental to where they are actually living the lies, they are gonna mess up in their lies. And when they do, I've got the notes to catch them!!! One guy kept mixing up the ages of his kids (now, he might not have been lying, it's possible he was just a lousy dad!)

Another guy kept telling me different incompatible things about what he did for a living. Toss him out!

This process of not jumping right into a date has another advantage... I wasn't looking to bed-hop and making guys take the time to get to know me before we met did tend to week out the ones looking for a quick lay. (giggle)

... more to come...

Linsey Lanier said...

Pam,

That's some great advice. I never knew you were so sneaky :). If we can't use it ourselves, we can pass it on to our daughters and single friends. Thanks for joining us!

Linsey

Pamela-reader said...

Oops, meant "weed out" instead of "week out" above... all of you official writers will have to forgive my grammar & spelling mistakes!!

Pamela-reader said...

I had also seen too many of my friends latch on like glue to the first guy to give them a little attention. I wanted to enjoy my newly found freedom and I figured I was as subseptable as anyone else. So... I wouldn't go out with a guy on Friday unless I had found someone ELSE to go out with on Saturday. Now, I didn't have to be equally interested in the two guys, but I didn't want to fall into the trap of having one guy buttering me up too much.

Sound hard?? That's what some of my friends thought. Some even said they KNEW they couldn't do it. But it worked for me! I felt very much in control, with the excitement of meeting new guys.

Now, I talked with a very, very wide range of men. I had the range of professional dog walkers, grocery bag-boys, woodworkers, businessmen, executives, truck drivers, and some guys I never figured out what they actually did.

I had a couple of guys get really freaked out that I wanted to get to know them before we met. Kind of makes you wonder what they were hiding, doesn't it?

When I finally agreed to go out with a man, I made sure it was somewhere that *I* had been to before and that I met him there. ALSO, I wrote down in my notebook exactly where and what time I was meeting the guy.

As a further precaution, I had told my Sister and Best Friend that I *had* the notebook and told them where I kept it and that if I went missing, they should find the book & give it to the cops!!! (See?? I WAS parinoid, but I didn't let it stop me from the fun!)

Finally, I told either my sister or my best friend before I went on a date so they'd know to be sure I was around the next day. (grin)

More to come...

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Everyone,

Sorry about the delay in responding. I thought I put up a post this morning letting everyone know I’d respond after work. Unfortunately, I don’t see it anywhere!!!

Tammy, I love this because I’m finding out information about friends I had no idea about. I might have to pick your brain sometime for info in my story… Thanks a ton for the words of advice. I think people should definitely use as much caution with this as they do with any stranger they meet face to face. Great reminder!!!

Hey Tamara. I’m like you; married for 17 years, so no experience with it. But I’m sure it would be right up my alley and I hope I’d have fun with it. I found out from a friend this morning when I was telling her about my post that her grandmother found a “man” on-line. They are both in their 80’s and HAPPY…. Who knew?

Hi, Cici. I can see your point on the book. With a book, you can put it down and move on. I had actually added a paragraph in my original version of the post about the odds of getting a “dud,” but my hubby said it sounded depressing so I took it out. AND you have the gist of my story; shy girl taking a chance after her so called friends set her up… Maybe you’ll get to see it soon…(Really, I’m trying to get stuff on paper to send out to my wonderful CP)…

Hi Helen. Welcome to PFAHT’s. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much we take from those stories we hear around the water cooler…

Hey Anna. I thought that same thing after I had typed about half the post. I thought I would be really cynical against it, but after thinking it through I was surprised how much I could relate to it. And I love the idea of being able to create yourself in writing.

Hi Linsey. I totally agree. The romantic suspense line makes wonderful use of these fears. In a way, I’m glad because it reminds me that the world isn’t the happy go lucky kind of place we would like it to be. I’m thrilled for your friends.

Hey Sandy. I’m with you. I’m sticking with the one I’ve got. I’m just getting him “trained.” But I do like knowing the option is out there.

Hey Marilyn. I might have to pick your brain as well. It sounds like you have some very interesting stories… I wish your daughter the very best.

Hi Pamela. Major congrats on finding the one. I’m with you on the bar scene. I’ve been a couple of times with friends (my husband was there with me, too) and I can’t believe how scary that life can be. I actually have more fun people watching when I’m out than anything else.

Hey Debbie. I hope your friend finds some of the comments helpful. I know they have helped me a ton with my story. I can’t wait to get started.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. Have a great rest of the day!!!

Tami Brothers

Tami Brothers said...

Wow, Pamela. This is definitely great advice. Keep it coming!!!

Pamela-reader said...

That pretty much covers my precautions I think... Now I'll give you some details on the guys I met (and the ones I never met!)

Like I said, some guys got really freaked out that I didn't want to meet them the night after they responded to my ad. Too bad for them! Of course there were the guys who sent me emails of parts of their body I REALLY didn't want to see!! (I didn't consider these a "polite" email, so they didn't get a response... they got blocked!)

I met one guy who was really nice and a really good kisser... he had custody of his two kids from his first marriage. I thought we might have a chance... Problem was that on the 2nd date he wanted me to come back to his place to meet the children. When I pointed out that I was worried it was a little too early in the relationship for them to meet and get to know me, he said that would be ok, they'd be due for bed about the time we got there... ok, we all know now that he didn't want me to meet the kids, he wanted me in the same location as his bed!! I admit I was tempted, but I stood firm.

(Along with my vows to not get swept away by a single guy, I vowed not to go to bed with anyone until I was willing to consider some level of committment to them. After all, I didn't want to "catch" anything!!!) This was the part that stumped one of my friends... no matter what she said, she usually ended up sleeping with them on the first date!)

Although I figured the odds of having some good sex had greatly increased by my divorce (Yeah! There's a story THERE! (giggle) ) I didn't want to end up in thrall to the first guy who knew how to use all his parts!

Anyhow, back to this guy... after a couple more dates, it ended gracefully when he found a "friend with benefits" in the same apartment complex.

(... more...)

Pamela-reader said...

Whew! I told Linsey you guys were gonna be sorry that you got me started on this topic!!! Feel free to skip over if you like, but it might be some fodder for a future book... who knows, someday I might pick up one of your books out there & recognize a little bit of this!

Thanks for the welcome you guys!

Pamela-reader said...

... I talked to one guy who was really nice, but he was happy with his grocery bagging job and small apartment... I'm a computer programmer & while I wanted to stay away from the Type-A guys, I wanted someone with a little more "get-up-and-go" than that.

I had one guy I went out with several times, but he had two things against him. The biggest problem was he kept asking me if I thought he was funny, if I liked him, if I'd go out again (this was 30 minutes into the date!). The second thing... (no, THIS might have been the biggest problem!) was that he kissed exactly like I imagined it would be kissing my brother. Absolutely nothing! (My sister said that I owed it to his future dates to teach him how to kiss, but I decided to pass on that idea!)

One guy was working out well, he seemed a good match. Unfortunately before things went very far, he decided to move back up north to help his sister raise his nephews after her husband died. Nice guy!

Then the oddest guy I actually met in person was like two different men. Online and on the phone, he would flirt and was definitely spicy! Lots of fun and excitement. However, in person, it was like a boring business meeting with a stranger. Then I started catching little errors in my notebook... finally, I came to the conclusion he was probably looking to cheat on his wife (who he said was an Ex!) but I had no proof, so I quit with him.

I certainly did meet a lot of different personalities and while some were wierd, I didn't have any truely scary experiences. I feel like my precautions helped me make good choices!

....

Linsey Lanier said...

All right. I have to make a disclaimer here - I am NOT Pam's friend who went to bed with the guys she went out with on the first date. :)

Linsey

Pamela-reader said...

Linsey's right... she's been happily married the whole time I've known her!

Pamela-reader said...

Now, more story fodder... How I met my HUSBAND online!!!

He replied to my ad. He was polite, but he signed it "georgia farmer" and it had lots of grammar and mispellings. I only replied to be polite!!! Then we just kept talking and talking... I found out he was really very educated, he was just sloppy when responding to personal ads. (smile)

Now, on my ad, I'd let my best friend pick the picture. I had two headshots, one with a "normal" smile, and the other with a little more of a playful smirk. My friend chose the playful one becuase she thought it suited me more.

Turns out that the funny part is that J (future husband at this point) was writing to all of the new ads which had pictures. However, he didn't like my picture becuase it wasn't smiling very much. (Turns out his ex had NO sense of humor, so he was looking for someone happy & full of life!)

After writing *all* of the other women, he decided to write me too "just because".

So, the funny part is that he almost didn't write to me at all, and I only responded to be polite - I wasn't interested in him at all at the time.

(Oh, one more detail - remember what I said about wanting two guys to date at the same time... J was the 2nd one. See, there was this other guy (the split personality one) that I "really" wanted to go out with... I agreed to go out with J so I could go out with the other guy!)

My husband & I love telling this story!

Whew!!! Someone else's turn to post now!!!

Dianna Love said...

Wow, what a super topic, Tami, and a great line up of posts. I met my husband before I was ever on computers, but then I was a hold out for as long as possible. However, a very close friend of ours had married a wonderful woman who died of cancer 6 years after marrying. He didnt date anyone for like 3-4 years then when he decided to he was on the road all the time and I think hesitant to start off with the "in person" meetings. I had the feeling that meeting a woman from an online service gave him the chance to do some looking and reading on a woman before he was under the pressure to have dinner. He married one of the women he dated and is very happy.

Another friend who went through a divorce who is Jewish and had married a non-Jewish girl the first time decided to try the online service to meet Jewish women and met a wonderful woman in another city (and state). Neither can move due to business and children situations so they've created a really amazing long distance relationship that has been going for something like 7 years and still very much in love. They would never have met otherwise.

Considering some of the scary people in bars back when that was the best place to hook up - the online probably doesn't have any more risks for an adult who is careful and thorough in research - IMO.

I[m in NY for meetings so I may not be back until next week. Have a super weekend everyone.

Dianna

Ana Aragón said...

Well, I'm happy to say hubby and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary today!

I'm like the other "oldies" in the group...no internet back then, so I have no idea if I'd have tried online dating. My oldest son met a girl from Croatia and she seemed nice enough. But getting to meet her was another thing, so that "relationship" died out.

If I'd wind up single again, I suppose I might try it out. But I certainly would be as careful and thorough as Pam...(who should write a book herself, IMO!)

Ana

Susan May said...

Great post Tammy. Nice comparison between books and men. I think we all judge important things in the same method. I've not ever computer dated, only because I've been married 26 years to the same guy. But if I ever have to the first thing I'm going to do is lie about myself and try for a young one with big shoulders and a washboard stomach.

Pamela-reader said...

Have any of you heard the country song "I'm so much cooler online"??
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bradpaisley/online.html

Very appropriate to this blog topic.

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Pamela. You are hilarious. I really hope you are a writer, too, because I think you have a future. Too good. Thanks a ton for all the wonderful stories. I love the way you and your hubby met. Makes me feel good about the whole thing.

Hey Dianna. I hope and Sherri are having a hoot in New York. I wish I could be there with you. I’m happy for you and your hubby. He is a really great guy and I honestly believe your stories are so great because you have such a great relationship to draw from. I mean the romantic parts, not the crazy parts of the books…grin… Your friend also gives me hope. I love that they can make that kind of relationship last for so long…

Hey Ana. I wish your son the best. It obviously wasn’t meant to be. Hope he finds someone, though.

Hi Susan. I love that idea. I’m with you on the lying about ourselves. Those washboard stomachs really get me… I’m definitely in (that is, I’m in if I were single.) Since I’m not, I’ll wish all those single ladies and gentlemen the very best of luck!!!

Marilyn Baron said...

Pamela's posts made me think of something else about my daughter's online dating experience.

She said online dating was harder than looking for a job. She (not the guy) had to keep straight what she was telling each one so she wouldn't get confused so she did an EXCEL spreadsheet. One week she went out with a different online date every night and finally she got so exhausted she had to take a break from online dating.

But she's back now.

Marilyn

Pamela-reader said...

Tami - Thanks for the compliments! They give me a nice glow... But Nope! Not gonna be a writer... that's for you guys to do... I'm just a hungry, hungry reader - so you guys hurry up & publish books for me to gobble up!!

I might can whip out some writing like this when the mood hits me, and I've been told I'm really good at putting things into words... but it is like this, sometimes, even though your good at something, you would go NUTS if you *had* to do it. Writing isn't something that I *MUST* do like it is for you guys. I'd much rather reap the benefits of giving out ideas & encouragement.

As Linsey knows, I honestly can read a book every day! I love to read & that is my main hobby and really the only way I unwind from "real" life. I have more books in my house than some bookstores! My guest bedroom shelves cover an entire wall... and they are full! Guests have problems because I've then stacked the books up (kind of sorted) about 2 foot high about 3 foot deep in front of the shelves... Then I started stacking them along the hallway (making it about 5 inches narrower!) And that's not counting the 50+ new books I've picked up waiting to be read! I've even got a staging ground for the books I'm going to loan my mother (She rarely has to buy a book!)

I have to buy paperback because I couldn't afford to keep myself in hardbacks... not to mention I'd NEVER find somewhere to store them all! I keep ALL my books... well, maybe not all, but 99.9% of them... after all, I re-read my favorites all the time.

See, I'm really kind of the opposite of the rest of you on here... YOU *have* to write... I *have* to read! (grin)

Hey, maybe in a few weeks, if you guys would like, I could write you an article for your blog on "One Reader's view on How To Choose A Book to Buy"???

Ana Aragón said...

Pamela,

That would be very interesting! I'm a voracious reader as well...but now that I write, it's hard to find the time to do both.

I always treat myself to a book or two from my TBR pile after I finish a book and send it off...to an editor, or maybe a submission to another publisher. Figure I owe it to myself!

Ana

Ana

Cinthia Hamer said...

Whew! I know I'm a few days late in posting to this, but after reading all the fantastic comments, I just had to share...

My baby girl decided, just after her 17th birthday, she didn't want to live in Atlanta any longer. So, she bought an airline ticket, and flew away back to San Diego, where we're from, with the intentions of going to one of the local community colleges until she could get into San Diego State. She had a roommate all lined up and everything...

She arrives in San Diego, meets the roommate, who in her words was "weird as hell". Said weird roommate informs her she's changed her mind about the apartment and is moving back home with her parents.

Alana has no job, very little money and being a teenager, no intention of calling mom and dad and admitting her mistake.

So, she calls one of her online gaming buddies she's known for a few years who lives just north of LA. Bless his heart, he drives all the way to San Diego and rescues Alana, then convinces his parents to let her stay with them!

Long story just a bit shorter...they begin dating, fall in love and get engaged.

All this time, mom and dad are holding their breath, thinking of all the horrible things that can happen.

Just after the engagement, they fly back here to Atlanta for us to meet him. The moment he threw his arms around me and gave me a hug, I knew he was going to be The One for my baby girl.

They've been married for almost 6 years, he's put her through nursing school and still treats her like she's a precious jewel.

Watching them interact puts a smile on my face and a glow in my heart.

Pamela-reader said...

Wow, that's a great story! It brings a big smile to my face. (Bet it brought some grey hairs to your head though!!!)