Cast Your Net

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Cast Your Net details the steps to locate, contact, and safely gather that elusive mate by combining common sense and determination.

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Overview

Cast Your Net details the steps to locate, contact, and safely gather that elusive mate by combining common sense and determination.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558321892
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/1/2001
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.96 (d)

First Chapter

One of my favorite activities is backpacking. Caveman bathroom facilities and insects are part of the fun. When a loving partner early on announced, "I'll go backpacking as long as you can guarantee indoor plumbing and no bugs," I should have taken this red flag to heart. Instead, our relationship ultimately foundered on several similar issues on which we disagreed.

Many of us looking for a soul mate are coming off a divorce or a relationship that ended on an unhappy note. Even widow(er)s who have lost a loving spouse can probably think of something to improve, strengthen, or build upon. Seldom do we get a second chance to do things right in life; love is the exception, especially if you take stock of past mistakes and resolve to fashion a remedy. At the same time, you have a wonderful opportunity to look back to see what was solid and enjoyable.

So before you start scouting out a replacement for your last partner, let's take a few moments to analyze what was good and what bends could be straightened. Every relationship has its delights. Find the positives, and determine to enjoy them with your next partner. Decide as well what was missing in your relationship that caused it to droop or spit sparks. And pinpoint each feature that you can very well do without. Let's begin by making a list of the characteristics, good and bad, of your past relationships. First we'll talk about the basics--your partner.

Charting Your Partner

Everyone needs to feel loved, wanted, and respected. Beyond these basics, individuals who mesh well with their partners are much more apt to survive the long haul. Human nature has worked this way ever since the first saber-toothed tiger poked an unwelcome snout into the cave. Mutual comfort in a relationship equates to longevity.

Most of us give little or no thought to what attracts us to a potential partner. So let's do that right now. First let's take a look over our shoulder; then we'll review. Fill in the characteristics of your last partner(s) of significance in the (TO COME). Ignore the "You" column for the moment. Make checks, write in yes or no, and add comments. Feel free to stir in whatever other characteristics occur to you. Do whatever it takes to give you a realistic picture of each past relationship. As an aid, try to find pictures of each partner. The passage of time tends to distort memory. Don't gloss over shortcomings; be brutally honest.

As a double check on your objectivity, after you fill it out, ask a close friend who knew both you and your ex-partner(s) to go over your completed chart. Pay close attention to where your opinions differ.

History

Characteristic Partner 1 Partner 2 Partner 3 YOU Appearance

Height

Weight range

Race

Ethnic background

Hair color

Hair length

Hairstyle

Age range

Trim/average/heavy

Other?

Style

Glasses

Style of jewelry

Style of dress

Good dresser?

Dresses appropriately?

Other?

Health and Fitness

Alcohol use

Drug use

Nutrition-conscious

Smoker

Athletic

Active

Overall health

Other?

Education

Schooling

Literacy

Improves self

Inquisitive/curious

Other?

Personal Interaction

Dependable

Flexible

Patient

Fussy eater

Annoying habits

Clean

Nagger

Companionable

Carried baggage

Honest

Arrogant

Punctual

Needy

Argumentative

Generous

Enjoys private time

Extrovert/introvert

Fun at a party

Well-mannered

Considerate

Easygoing

Fun to be with

Other?

Entertainment

Likes to read

Enjoys music

Enjoys dancing

Likes to travel

Active in sports

TV watcher

Likes to cook

Likes theater

Likes ballet

Likes to eat out

Likes movies

Enjoys community activities

Internet user

Love Stuff

Romantic

Sexually abusive

Sexually enjoyable

Vocalizes affection

Uncritical

Warm and affectionate

Loving

Supportive

Easy to anger

Hostile to you

Hostile to others

Jealous

Verbally abusive

Faithful

Attentive

Considerate

Flirts with others

Physically abusive

Willing to commit

Other?

Viewpoint

Adventuresome

Upbeat

Energetic

Open/reserved

Extrovert/introvert

Sense of humor

Religious

Encouraging

Political

Supportive

Other?

Financial

Employed

Ambitious

Likes his/her job

Good job prospects

Workaholic

Financially secure

Good investment

business sense

Miscellaneous

Likes animals

Has/wants children

Morning or night person

Political

Other?

Now take a look at what you have. Pluck out the warming aspects that you want to see carried over to a new relationship. These don't have to be earthshaking items. You might appreciate a partner being on time, or one who calls to tell you of a potential delay. Perhaps you appreciate something as simple as one who makes you a cup of coffee when you are tired. Or maybe even when you aren't tired.

Next, consider what was missing that you would like to have seen. Perhaps your list includes someone who would take the time to learn new things: a foreign language, the intricacies of bridge, or the thrill of equitation (the art of inducing horses to jump over high obstacles they would just as soon go around). Or one who enjoys taking in an arty flick.

Finally, decide what you will eliminate next time around the course. If you have multiple ex-partners to compare, you are likely to see similar patterns. Have partners been verbally abusive? Were they critical of you? Did all of your partners have the same negative characteristic(s)? If so, there's a reason. Psychologists tell us that people are attracted over and over to the same sort of partner because of familiarity with the type. If this predilection leads to a healthy relationship, fine. If not, this is your opportunity to set yourself on a happier track. Let's look at three examples.

Diane, thirty-six, Salt Lake City:

It took me the longest time to figure out why I ended up with one jerk after another. Then it finally dawned on me that I was picking guys I thought had a lot of self-confidence. Instead, they were really just arrogant. I kept ending up with men who had to possess and control me, and who were insanely jealous. When I finally realized that self-confidence and arrogance didn't have to go hand in hand, I came up with a great guy.

Phil, forty-seven, Atlanta:

I've never had any trouble attracting women in their twenties, but they never lasted long. A constant diet of nightlife and partying got old. And the stuff they called music! In a few months, I would start looking around again. A friend finally wised me up when she said I reminded her of Sam in Cheers. In one "Cheers" episode, Sam was killing himself trying to keep up with a younger woman. My friend fixed me up with a forty-two-year old with plenty of energy, but more my style. I finally had someone in my own generation, talking my language.

Corinne, thirty-one:

My ex-boyfriend was a master of deception. He had five different stories every time I caught him in some fabrication. Thus when I started looking on the Internet, I was particularly on the alert for inconsistencies. Anything that doesn't fit with something a guy tells me earlier, I'm outta there.

Charting Yourself

Next let's work on the same chart for you. Fill in the fourth column of the History chart with your characteristics in past relationship(s). And keep in mind that your traits may change from partner to partner, particularly if you have learned from mistakes. Take your time and be honest with yourself. Add anything about you that is important but doesn't show up on the chart. Highlight your good points. In a later chapter, you will be emphasizing these in your profile.

Put down your faults as well you are the only one who is going to see them! It is the rare breakup where fault is one-sided. If you think you might be having a problem being honest with yourself, ask a friend for a candid opinion. Or copy the blank chart and invite a friend to fill in your characteristics. Alternatively, you might consider talking over your strong and weak qualities with a counselor who specializes in relationships.

Perhaps you can discuss the list with a support group to which you belong. My soul mate Ute was once part of such a women's group. One evening a member trotted out a long list of characteristics she hankered for in a male partner. Naturally, the group felt that no such perfect human being existed. The discussion of the Ideal Male was helpful to all the participants, however, and Ute learned much about herself that evening as a by-product. She told me that many of the essentials she wanted in a man held no interest for others, and vice versa. She realized how much she delighted in the outdoors and needed a partner who would enjoy it with her. For another member of the support group, however, the perfect mate was a man who preferred spending time aboard cruise ships rather than traipsing uncertain trails in the woods.

Look at the characteristics you listed for yourself. Just because some attribute did not fit with an earlier partner does not mean that you must change. When a square hole doesn't accommodate a round peg, neither the peg nor the hole is at fault. When cats and dogs refuse to socialize, is either species the culprit? Many relationships come to grief merely because the characteristics of the partners are at odds.

For example, my sister Sheila had a quick irreverent wit. Her husband, Mickey, was slow to grasp the humor of her comments. Funny to her was sarcastic to him. Arguments frequently ensued. Tempers and often household items would fly. Sheila was an early riser who usually greeted the dawn playing classical guitar. Mickey preferred to start the morning at ten, and without music, thank you. This was another source of friction and identifiable flying objects. Ultimately the two divorced because numerous such small pieces of their puzzle didn't fit together.

If there is something you don't like about yourself, you have two choices: fix it, or accept and live with it. You may be overweight, smoke, or indulge in long TV or Internet sessions to the exclusion of exercise, for instance. Decide whether you are willing to do anything about these frailties, and then either make your move, or put it out of your mind. If you choose the latter, look for a soul mate who will take these attributes in stride and consider them as part of your persona, rather than as shortcomings.

The worst mistake you can make is to advertise for a partner, alleging you are something you are not, even if you intend to remedy the embroidery in the future. If you are thirty pounds overweight, don't claim that you are "average," because you are not. Be honest: specify that you are in the "a few pounds overweight" class. Or wait until you lose the thirty pounds before starting to look around. Otherwise, you may be trolling for SMCs who are looking for attributes you don't have. There are plenty of women who are willing to take on a hefty man, and vice versa. On any given day, a tour of your local supermarket will turn up such couples. One is twice the weight of the other, but there they are shopping away happily. Why waste time trying to attract SMCs who are looking for something you are not?

The Building Blocks of Your New Relationship Your Potential Soul Mate Let's begin to create the framework of a new relationship. We'll make lists of pertinent characteristics on which you are going to focus. In Chapter Three, these lists will help you to create an eye-catching, SMC-attracting profile. In Chapter Six, we'll use these lists to find your champion among the contenders.

Make three lists:

1. A list. Those attributes of a partner that you cannot do without, your "must-haves."

2. B list. The elements that you would prefer in a partner but are willing to do without as long as all the must-haves are in place. These fall under the category of "nice, but not necessary" items.

3. C list. Those characteristics that you absolutely will not tolerate, your "no-no's." Any one of these will eliminate an SMC.

Following were my personal lists. Your own may vary greatly.

My A List (Must-Haves)

My A list defined a woman who was:

slim and fit, intelligent, physically appealing, with a good sense of humor who was also a, bicyclist, hiker, backpacker (or at least willing to try), reasonably good housekeeper and who enjoyed reading liked children had a fondness for dogs had some education beyond high school accepted the past as history used little or no alcohol and was warm and affectionate clean, sexually playful, upbeat most of the time, willing to try new ventures, not self-conscious about her body, aware of good nutrition, generally not concerned about what others thought of her, and slept with her bedroom window open at night.

Lest you wonder about the importance of this last item, remember that one definition of marriage is "Sleeping in a room that is too warm next to a person who is sleeping in a room that is too cold." If you've been there, you'll understand.

My B List (Nice, but Not Necessary)

The frosting on the cake was to find a woman who was witty with only a passing interest in religion as well as a jogger, ballroom dancer, tennis player who was also a good cook, frugal, and who liked to travel, had class, didn't live too close to her own kids, liked computers, watched very little TV, and enjoyed dressing casually

My C List (No-No's)

A woman who used any form of drug, even just so-called recreationally or anyone who was a smoker,complainer, night person, non-dog lover, or who was intensely religious, played Scrabble, liked to gamble, liked sailing, downhill skiing, beach activities, horses, or doing things in the desert, or had tattoos, or children living at home, especially beyond school age.

Tips for Creating Your Own List

In short, you will compile lists of characteristics you must have (A), those you would prefer to see (B), and those you want to avoid (C), in your ultimate partner. This way you know both what you are looking for and what you must avoid. In Chapter Six we'll go into more detail about how to use these lists.

Don't compromise. Your search may take a little longer, but the effort will be worth it in the end. Diane, a forty-seven-year-old psychologist, discussed this with me once. She wrote, "The most constant theme I see in wayward relationships is the willingness of the woman to give up on her dreams. We are all too often confronted with our fear of being alone that we make all kinds of sacrifices to maintain a relationship."

This capitulation is not limited to women: men have the same weakness. And at practically all ages, beginning in their late twenties.

Don't give up your dream of finding the ideal partner. This is so important that I will repeat it again. You do not have to give up your dream of finding the ideal partner. Don't! And resist the urge to have a relationship--any relationship--rather than be alone. Weigh your choices. You can wait a bit longer to find exactly the soul mate who fits you, or you can accept less for the sake of having company. If you opt for the latter, you run the very real risk that sometime in the future you'll be traveling this road again, still looking for your soul mate.

If you need company, there are all sorts of people who would love to have you. You can volunteer for everything from caring for the aged to working with abused women and children. Little League umpires are always in short supply. Every road race needs someone to hand out cups of water as the mob rushes by. Nursing home residents are overjoyed to have someone with whom to play cards, share a joke, or listen to music. An automobile ride is near-Nirvana to most. Schools and libraries are always in need of volunteers to tutor or to help kids with their homework.

In Summary

If you don't like what's been happening in your past relationships, decide what worked and what flopped. Make note of ex-partner characteristics that caused problems in the past. Consider these "red flags" to avoid at all costs; don't risk renewed grief because you have carried one or more over into your new relationship. In addition, begin thinking of what you must have in a soul mate. At the same time, consider what you might want to improve about yourself; then either make the change or forget about it.

In her book Desirable Men, How to Find Them, Dr. Nancy Fagan developed a method of carefully assessing past relationships to avoid making the same mistakes.

The method is applicable to laying the foundation for success in finding your soul mate on the Internet. In discussing potentially destructive relationships she says, "Time flies. Don't waste your time with the wrong type of man. Keep in mind that patterns are like the grooves on a record. Old records (relationship patterns) tend to have scratches that cause the needle to stick, creating an ugly repetitive noise rather than enjoyable music. The only [way to create] beautiful music is to pick up the needle and put it on a new groove."

And yes, besides being very competent in her field, Nancy is my daughter, and I'm extremely proud of her.

Make up the three lists of characteristics I've mentioned in this chapter. These will help you to put together your profile in Chapter Three, and to sift the SMC wheat from the chaff in Chapter Six. Now let's get down to the business of finding where the action is.

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Introduction

In September 1998 I logged onto the Internet in search of my soul mate. It was a wild, often hilarious (now, but not then) quest that ended in absolute success. My looks are average; I'm not charismatic; my youth is a fading memory. I lay claim to no particular talents. At the time I had scant Internet experience; my knowledge of romancing women online was zilch. Further, my knowledge of browsers, search engines, and the like could have fit on the head of a pin. I knew more about speaking Sanskrit. Yet I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in a female partner, and I was unwilling to settle for anything less.

@t1a:I began my Internet adventure by stumbling upon one of the larger matchmaking services. Wow! Women galore! All shapes, sizes, ages, looks, inclinations, and locations. I whipped up a barebones (thirty to forty words) profile, and sent out forty-five e-mail messages the first day. Within hours I began to receive a flood of extensive responses from my second-preference picks--but little or nothing from the type of women who truly interested me.

My social life was at ground zero, so even if I wasn't thrilled with the quality of the field I had the time necessary to handle the replies. This effort in turn generated another tide of response, and then, chaos. Some women wanted to make telephone contact; some wanted to meet. Others fired back questions I was expected to answer. I lost track of who was who and who wanted what. I finally stopped emailing new candidates, but I continued to flounder.

Blunder followed blunder. My email to Claire was accidentally addressed to Irene. My compliments on a picture sent by Susan in Phoenix inadvertently went to Carmen in San Jose. I had numerous face-to-face meetings with various women. In each case, for one reason or another, we didn't fit under the same umbrella. When the smoke cleared after the first three months, my search for a soul mate had advanced not an inch. I began to wonder if my teenage technique of cruising the streets after hours in a convertible might not be a more fruitful alternative.

After some somber rethinking (and being light one convertible), I changed my approach, revised my profile, organized myself, came up with a positive plan, and charged off anew. Over ten months, I attempted contact with more than four hundred women. Half ignored my overtures completely; the rest communicated with me to one degree or another. I met with twenty ladies in various states from Hawaii to Maine.

Then, at last, success. Ute, the treasure of my life, surfaced in Oahu.

The Online World

As we roar into the twenty-first century, 110 million Americans have hooked up to the Internet. Nearly 80 million unmarried adults are living alone in the United States. Link these together, and a mind-boggling singles market emerges. Just as e-buy and e-commerce for goods and services have rocketed far beyond the forecasters' dreams, so has Internet exploration for lasting social connections. The advantages of Internet matchmaking over the tried-and-not-so-true traditional methods of meeting a mate (singles bars, blind dates, newspaper personal ads, video dating services, and so forth) are diverse and compelling.

Numbers. Among the major players in the field, Match.com boasts that 3,100,000 people had used their services as of April 1, 2000. A competitor, Matchmaker.com, claims a like figure. Americansingles.com weighs in with over 1,000,000 registered members. Many other sites have hundreds of thousands of members. On July 23, 2000, the New York Times commented: "61% of American singles will look for a date on the Internet this year." Singles are becoming increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated with trying to find a mate in bars, churches, social clubs, supermarkets, bowling alleys, and at work. Going door-to-door brings negligible results.

Matching. On the Internet you have the ability to look for the love of your life based on criteria that you specify in advance. For example, you can designate a search to bring up only men who are between five feet six and six feet two, slim/athletic, don't smoke, are of a particular religious persuasion, have no kids living with them, and live within 25 miles of you. Or a woman not over five feet two, between the ages of thirty and forty, who lives in Los Angeles.

Be all you want to be. Searching on the Internet enables you to put your best foot forward, and with a chic slipper or macho boot. You can publicize your talents to your heart's content by creating a profile that touches on all the exotic elements of the real You.

Browsing. You have the ability to inspect any number of potential soul mate candidates (SMCs) to your heart's desire without their ever knowing you peeked. Once you find someone of interest, you can explore that SMC in depth.

Convenience. You can search and communicate any time of the day or night.

Screening. Email contact is an excellent way to dig deeper into an SMC's likes and dislikes before meeting. You can track down characteristics that are red flags for you personally. An exchange of pictures can give you an idea of what to expect in a face-to-face meeting.

Minimizing risk. Anyone who has ever read or seen the movie "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" realizes the risk inherent in meeting strangers in a bar. Or anywhere else for that matter, without having some sort of an idea what you are getting into. On the Net you are able to preserve your anonymity. With care, your correspondent will not know your phone number, address, full name (or even part of it, if you wish), or true email address.

Minimal cost. Services that provide you with the capability to search their membership typically cost no more than $10 or $15 a month. Some offer a free trial period of a week or so. Some of the better ones are free.

Granted, there are some disadvantages to casting your net online.

Identities are concealed. The woman who is capturing your heart with her romantic overtures could actually be a fourteen-year-old boy. Maybe even a chimp that has learned to type. You can overcome this problem to a large degree by swapping pictures. Still, there is no guarantee until, and unless, you actually meet. Photos may date back to a day when the SMC was slimmer, had more hair, did not (or did) wear a beard, was in better shape, and so on.

You can't get a chemistry reading. Only a face-to-face meeting will give you the chance to check for sparks. An SMC who crafts the written word beautifully may be tongue-tied in person. Or he or she may be obnoxious to you and/or others. Or have bad breath. Or any of a dozen things that may preclude furthering a relationship.

Distance. Someone who might appear at first blush to be an ideal SMC may live 500 miles away, or 3,000. Maybe even in a different country. Do you go for it? Or do you just keep on looking?

Time online. Finding the Right Person can be time-consuming. Things may not go as quickly or in the precise direction you want. Frustration and discouragement may come to roost on your shoulders. There are ways to handle this.

Making the same mistakes. Using a new medium to scratch up a loved one doesn't mean that you will automatically avoid all the same old potholes on Love Road.

And then there are the perceived disadvantages. I'll debunk them right now.

Embarrassment. In an interview I read on Match.com, a woman said that when someone suggested using the Internet to look for a mate she was offended. "I wanted to find a man to share my life with, but I didn't need to resort to computer dating!" she claimed. Even after finding her soul mate via the Internet, she wrote, "admitting to the whole world that you met your husband-to-be on the Internet would be pretty embarrassing, don't you think?"

"I met my love late one night in a neighborhood bar" is an improvement? How about, "I found the love of my life in the deli section of the supermarket"? Or, "After eight pathetic and painful experiences, a blind date finally worked out for me"?

Internet trysts have acquired cachet. In 1999, articles in Time magazine and Newsweek touted the advantages of Internet dating for busy professionals.

Lurking psychos. The Internet has no monopoly on creeps. They can pop up in singles bars, on blind dates, at night school, and at church socials. But there is an extraordinary difference between face-to-face and Internet connections. When you lose interest in an Internet relationship, you can end it by clicking your Delete button, in the comfort of your home. Try getting rid of an amorous or talkative suitor(ess) as easily.

Certainly horror stories circulate. A Web site, www.wildxangel.com, lists numerous faux pas as told by the victims. But in every instance, you will find that the complaining individual ignored common sense. For instance, there are several stories about gullibles of both sexes who have lent their credit cards to first-time Internet dates, and then were surprised when substantial charges showed up. With appropriate guidance, people can avoid such fiascos.

Privacy is a must. The email you send and receive is filtered through the matchmaking site's own mail system; only the site itself knows your real email address. Members cannot connect directly without the consent of both persons.

Fear of the unknown. There is very little written about Internet matchmaking to tell you where to go and what to do when you get there. This book will guide you in both respects, every step of the way.

What This Book Will Do for You

This book will show you how to find your soul mate, the person with whom you want to enjoy the rest of your life, through the Internet. It will give you the confidence to enjoy working at this demanding but rewarding task. It will detail the steps to locate, contact, and reel in that elusive mate, by combining common sense and determination. That person may be anywhere in the world; no matter your computer is the modern-day flying carpet. Anything is possible through the Internet.

In these pages you will encounter the hopes, wishes, mistakes, thoughts, challenges, techniques, and accomplishments of scores of individuals who have experienced the wonders (and disappointments) of searching for their soul mate on the Internet. Many of those I quote were soul mate candidates with whom I had contact. Others were good enough to respond to questionnaires I emailed to people to research their thoughts and attitudes. In many cases, profiles came from my direct search. To protect privacy, I have changed names and altered slightly the content of messages and profiles, while keeping the lessons to be learned intact. Many SMCs are from smaller towns not readily locatable without an atlas. To ease the lesson in geography, I have rerouted some of these to the nearest recognizable metropolitan area. To save a few trees, I will refer to the person you seek, your soul mate candidate, as SMC.

We will be talking about finding someone for keeps your soul mate for the rest of your life. So you will be weeding out those individuals who (a) have lifestyles and goals that are incompatible with yours, or (b) are not looking for keeps. You will learn to identify the positives that you really want in a relationship, and to eliminate past negatives. You will then learn to craft a profile to put yourself forward in the right place in the best light. You will become adept at questioning a range of SMCs, and then analyzing their responses and reactions to you.

Together, we'll develop your skills in handling the problems that are inherent with kids, pets, and out-of-town rendezvous. You'll find help in avoiding the most common mistakes, and staying on your feet when a variety of items that can go wrong, do.

It will be work, often pleasant, sometimes frustrating, and often not easy. But the saying, "The harder I work, the luckier I get" applies to exploring SMCs as much as to any endeavor.

Follow the steps, work through the exercises, and fill out the charts. Use the best judgment you can in each circumstance, and learn from your mistakes. Keep in mind that your own safety is paramount (and if you think this doesn't apply to men, check out the video "Fatal Attraction"). Above all, take your time! Indulge yourself. Heighten your pleasure as your eagerness to meet with an SMC grows. Put a Post-It on your monitor, no rush!

The process I describe will work if you are careful and thoughtful at each step. You have a golden opportunity to first explore many of the facets of your SMC's character and inclinations. Then you can find out what the SMC looks like and whether the chemistry works. Your SMCs are looking just as hard for you as you are for them. Don't short yourself. Or them.

What This Book Will NOT Do for You

1. This is the wrong book if you just want dates or short-term relationships.

2. These pages will not teach you how to romance the person of your dreams whom you find on the Internet.

3. There are no sex tips here.

A profusion of other books, supermarket magazines, and videos serve such purposes. If you aren't ready for THE relationship, pass on this book. Not everyone comes to the well for that reason. But if you truly want to find the person with whom you are willing and eager to spend the rest of your life, you're in the right place at the right time.

What You Will Need

You can take advantage of this book, even if you score your computer aptitude abilities in the single digits (including 0). Let me first list what it would be nice for you to have, and then I will make some other suggestions.

Ideally you should have

  • a computer
  • an Internet connection
  • the ability to browse Internet sites
  • a basic knowledge of email

If you lack a computer, perhaps a family member or a friend will oblige. If not, many public libraries now offer the use of computers coupled with Internet access. You will also find Internet coffee shops strewn about cosmopolitan areas that will charge you a small fee to connect up. If you know little or nothing about the Internet and its terminology, turn to a friend or family member. There are also inexpensive books such as the The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Internet that can get you started. High schools and junior colleges overflow with courses on Internet navigation. The same is true for adult education classes. We'll cover some of the basics below.

Computers 101—the Nuts and Bolts of the Internet for Non-Mechanics

For those of you who have not yet had the time or the inclination to bring yourselves fully up to speed technically, let's go over a few terms. Feel free to skip this section if you're computer literate.

Using the Internet is similar to owning a car that needs gas and oil and has a two-way CB radio installed. The ISP is your gas, and a modem is your oil. The browser is your car, which you "steer" by typing in addresses. If you aren't sure where to go, you need a road map--a Search Engine. Email is your CB radio equivalent. Just as CB radios work very well even if you don't own a car, email can work even if you don't have a computer of your own. Now let's make sense out of all this by looking a little more closely at the five terms listed in italics.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)--your "Gas." Your computer connects to the Internet via your telephone (or cable) line. Different companies (ISPs) provide this hookup service through their own computers. When you click on the Internet button, your computer dials into the ISP's computer, and voila! You are on the Internet. To find ISPs in your area, look in the Yellow Pages under "Internet." Telephone companies such as AT&T, Sprint, and MCI also offer Internet services. The cost for some time now has been about $20 a month for unlimited use. In other words, no matter how much time you spend on the Internet using the telephone line, the $20 covers it. One caution. Run the phone number your ISP provides past your local phone company. Make sure it is a toll-free call. If it isn't, you might want to call a local college, university, or library to see what else is available in your immediate area.

The ISP you pick will give you explicit instructions on how to hook up to their computer. If necessary, a live person will guide you through the steps over the phone. Each ISP also throws in a free browser and email services.

AOL, Prodigy, AT&T, and CompuServe are commercial online services, all variations of ISPs. They provide entertainment features in addition to Internet services.

Modem--your "oil." This is a checkbook-sized gadget usually located inside your computer that enables your computer to send and receive data over a telephone line. Plug one end of a regular telephone cord into the slot in your CPU (computer). Go to any electronics store and ask about a surge protector to nullify sudden abnormal flows of electricity that can damage your computer. The other end goes into any telephone wall jack. Unless you have two telephone lines, you get your pick: telephone or Internet. You can't do both at once with only one line; you can make a telephone call or be hooked up to the Internet. You can leave in place the telephone cord connecting your computer with the phone jack. That's not a problem. If your computer is more than two years old, you may not have a modem inside. You can buy one at an electronics store or repair shop. Generally they will put it in for free. Or you can buy an external model that has a cord to plug into the back of your computer. Another cord goes right to the phone jack.

Browser your "car." This is a computer program that enables you to search through the Internet to find all the matchmaking sites listed in Chapter Two. On every browser there is a rectangular box near the top of the screen that will initially have something like "http://www.microsoft.com/" filled in. This is called an "address"; in this case it is Microsoft's address. To go someplace else on the Internet, you replace the "http://www.microsoft.com/" with the address of the Web site you want to visit.

Search engine your "road map." This is a site that allows you to find other sites when you don't have their addresses. One such search engine is www.dogpile.com (there is a slew of such search engines). At Dogpile, you find a box near the top with "Dogpile Search" right above it and "Fetch" to the right side of it. Type anything you want in the box, such as "matchmaking," click on Fetch, and the Dogpile computer goes to work. It makes a lightning check of the whole Internet. After a few seconds, a screen comes up with a list of entries that pertain to matchmaking. Sort through them, and click on the underlined wording to get to the address of any site that interests you. Of course, just as when you pull a net of fish up out of the ocean, there will be a lot for which you have no use. Email your two-way "CB radio." Every home has a mailbox. The mailperson delivers your mail by putting it inside the box. If you want to send a letter, you put it in the mailbox, and the mailperson whisks it away for delivery. Similarly, you will need an Internet "mailbox" to receive and send email messages. This is yet another free computer program.

You need a basic email program, such as Outlook Express, to connect up to the mailbox. It is in this program that you make up, send, receive, and, manage messages. Virtually all computers that still run have such a program. Ask a friend, relative, or the teenager next door for help if you can't find it or figure it out.

If you have your own computer and are connected to your own ISP, you will have a personal mailbox from which you can send and receive email, compliments of the ISP. If you are using someone else's computer, including that of your local library, you can set up an Internet mailbox free at any site, such as www.yahoo.com, www.hotmail.com, www.surimaribo.com, www.netaddress.com or dozens of others. If you are familiar with using a search engine, simply type in "free mailboxes" (include the quotation marks) and take your pick. Try Dogpile for practice in finding these mailboxes. Once you have a free mailbox on such a site, you can send and receive email at any time through any computer.

Matchmaking sites make the handling of email a breeze. As you bring up a member's profile to review, there is generally a button you can click on to send email to that member. Clicking on the button will bring up an email form that is preaddressed to the member. You simply type in your message and type something in the Subject section (though this isn't always necessary). Click on Send, and your message takes flight.

More Help for the New-to-the-Internet Crowd

Sprinkled throughout the book are Side Trips. These are points that clear up computer terms or procedures in language anyone can understand. Those of you who are old pros at this sort of stuff will probably want to skip these. Some of it may seem astonishingly basic. It is, if you know more than I did when I started. Just cruise on by the kindergarten material.

In Summary

Your soul mate is out there! Convince yourself of that. You may be short, fat, thin, well-proportioned, balding, well-groomed, mustachioed, lacking education, gorgeous, outgoing, inept at social graces, handicapped, or any combination of the above. Perhaps in addition, you are shy, can't do math, and are no good at small talk. You may hate crowds, horses, vegetables and fruit, and love poodles and Rush Limbaugh. You may be heterosexual or gay or have inclinations in both directions. Maybe you bathe infrequently. No matter; there are thousands of individuals who will qualify as your soul mate! Let me repeat: There are thousand of persons who will qualify as your soul mate! People out there are digging through the cybernetic haystack for someone who looks, talks, thinks, and walks just like you--and you will feel the same way about them! For the first time in history, you have an opportunity to run across any number of them--through the Internet. In the luxury of your own living room.

That's it. That's all you need to know to get rolling. Now let's get started on your plan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2001

    Just what I've needed

    This is just the tool everyone needs to weed out the deadwood and get down to the persons you really are looking for. All the nitty gritty, including lots and lots of ideas about questions to ask.

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