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Ten years ago, no one would have thought that the best and easiest way to meet people would be through a computer. Well, guess what? It is. January 2002: eleven million people visited online dating websites. July 2002: eighteen million people visited online dating websites. December 2002: thirty-five million visited online dating websites. May 2003: forty-five million visited online dating websites (comScore Media Metrix, New York Times, June 30, 2003). That's over 40 percent of all the single adults in America. And despite the perception that this is a young person's medium, the top age group in terms of expansion is women, thirty-five to forty-four, followed by men, thirty-five to forty-four. The next biggest group? Men and women, forty-five to fifty-four (Yahoo, Inc., September 2002).
The reasons that Internet dating skews older than Internet gaming are clear. Single thirtysomethings tend to be busier and more financially secure, which means that work is important, but so is love, which is why paying for the service is not an issue. Plus, people in their late thirties are feeling the pressure to get married and have children. The expansion of the middle-aged sector shouldn't come as much of a surprise either. There are over twenty million divorcées out there, and I have to guess that the bar scene is far less appealing when you find yourself partying it up with your kids' friends.
This Is As Good As It Gets?
As ubiquitous as the Internet has become, online dating is still a daring step for generations of people who are accustomed to the more traditional ways of meeting. But the fact that other means of meeting are more established doesn't make them inherently superior. Think about it. Where do people normally meet their mates?
Bars? Yeah, you definitely have a better chance of meeting "the one" if you're drunk. And everyone knows that the highest quality people hang out regularly at bars. (Not to take anything away from the casinos and brothels of our great nation.)
Parties? Like bars except with free booze and onion dip. But unless you're extremely attractive, bold, or smooth, picking someone up in a few hours at a party is not always the easiest thing to do. Being able to ask, "How do you know the host?" gives parties a slight edge over bars.
Work? Fact: breaking up with a coworker will ruin any of the minimal enjoyment you may have previously had on the job. In a poll that I just fabricated in my head, 86 percent of the population would rather be unemployed than work in the same office as an ex. That's some convincing evidence against interoffice dating right there.
Church? You think you need to be smooth in a bar? Try getting someone's digits in the House of God, especially if Morn and Dad are sitting right next to your intended future spouse. Ask yourself: what would Jesus do? I'm guessing he'd hit the Internet as well.
Arranged marriage? A bit antiquated, perhaps, but removing the element of choice definitely makes dating a whole lot easier. Big plus. Let's keep this as a "consider."
Blind dates? I'll pick out my own losers, thank you.
Okay, so what do we have here? Arranged marriage or the Internet? A quick show of hands reveals that the majority of America still trusts their own flawed dating instincts more than their parents' flawed dating instincts. Therefore, arranged marriage is out and Internet dating wins.
Amazing, this democratic process of ours.
All jokes aside, dating online is far easier and cheaper than all of the above options. Easy and cheap are not two words you want to use to describe yourself, but they're perfect for our online dating purposes. For the same fifty dollars you might blow drinking at a local bar on a Saturday night while approaching absolutely no one, you could have six months of limitless emailing on AmericanSingles.com. Plus, the approach is easier (you don't have to have a suave pick-up line), the rejection is easier (the old drink-in-the-face thing just doesn't work over the computer), and the success rate is higher (because everyone on these sites is single, as opposed to many bar patrons who are just out to have fun with their friends).
However, the main advantage of Internet dating is this: you're getting to know your future spouse/boyfriend/booty call before you meet him/her. This is significant and it's worthy of further exploration.
We all know the importance of physical attraction in a relationship. I've had three friends whose serious live-in relationships fell apart due to lack of mutual sexual interest. So I'm not denying that the intangible spark that we all call "chemistry" is an essential component to a budding relationship. I am saying, however, that the way you meet someone can dictate the course of your entire initial conversation, your future interactions, and therefore, the rest of your life.
Text: "Hi, I'm Fred." Subtext: "Can I See You Naked?"
I have this theory about why it's so incredibly difficult to meet people at bars and parties. It works something like this:
It's Saturday night. Boys' night out. Girls' night out. Everyone has a dual purpose-(a) hang out with friends and (b) meet someone of the opposite sex. If you're a guy, most of the time you go home empty-handed. Maybe you talked to someone, maybe not, but probably most of your night was spent talking to your buddies about how hot and inaccessible all the women looked and how incredible it would be if you had the courage to approach a single one of them. If you're a woman, you've probably spent the night fending off the advances of the world's six slimiest guys, who are so immune to rejection that, after one from you, they immediately went five feet down the bar to hit on the next most attractive woman they could find. Yep, it's a meat market out there, yet few people are doing any quality meeting. Here's where my theory kicks in.
Traditionally, it's a man's duty to approach a woman at a bar or party. He can do this in a number of ways. Pick-up lines are usually a good start. One can always try these surefire winners:
"I know milk does a body good, but baby, how much have you been drinking?"
"Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?"
"Can I have a picture of you, so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?
"Nice shoes. Wanna have sex?"
But even if you're as charming and sincere as the above lines would indicate, as a man, you're starting from a tough position. Even if you say something simple and straightforward like, "Hi, I'm Evan," just by approaching a woman, you are making one thing very clear: You want to get in her pants. She knows it. You know it. No matter how you couch it, this fact is what brought you over to her to begin with.
Now if you want to extrapolate things even further, you might even say that the second you approach a woman, she could very well be considering whether you are going to be the father of her children. Don't laugh. It's true. And that's a lot of pressure for a guy. Especially if you believe the fabled factoid that a woman makes up her mind within five seconds if she'd want to sleep with you. In truth, a guy has no say in the matter. But that doesn't stop him from trying. As a result, thousands of uncomfortable conversations take place each day in drinking establishments across America, much to the chagrin of all parties involved, except for the bartenders, who happily drown everyone's sorrows in expensive top-shelf liquor.
Of course, none of this man/woman/sex/marriage subtext can be discussed. Instead we are forced to dance this odd mating dance that has taken place for thousands of years, or at least since the advent of the bar scene. How subtle can you be in making small talk with a total stranger? For most people, the answer is "not very."
Which is why picking up someone at a bar or party is not based on anything more than a first impression. Which is why real world dating sucks and online dating rules. Which is why you're reading this book to begin with. But you knew that.
Contrast the "pick up" with the slower, more personal method of online dating and you too could end up like my friend Teresa (a new Internet dating convert), who recently said to me on the phone: "In the past I would get into a relationship and then get to know the person I was dating. Now I get to know the person before I start dating them." Trite, but true. How often have you met somebody at a bar, gotten a phone number and a kiss, and then started learning about each other during the ensuing first date? How many times have you dived into a relationship because someone was attractive without even considering whether the two of you were compatible? To put it more bluntly, who among us has not had sex with someone without even knowing the color of his eyes? Or whether she has siblings? Or grown children? Or how long he's been out on parole?
Don't be embarrassed. It's called human nature. But just because it's normal to want to jump into the sack with a cute stranger, logic dictates that such behavior doesn't always build the most solid foundation for a long-term relationship. And that's what we're all after, isn't it? Well, isn't it?
Fine, don't answer that.
It's not my place to tell you where to sign up first. Suffice it to say, there are literally hundreds of Internet dating websites, and, as much as I'd like to save you the trouble, it's really your job to sift through them to figure out exactly which one (or two, or three) best suits your needs.
The good thing is that no matter what you're looking for, there's probably a site out there for you. A quick Google search reveals countless sites-from the conventional "Single White Male Seeks Single White Female for Long-Term Relationship" type sites to more ethnic/ religious focused websites-ones designed exclusively for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, gays, and so on. There are sites for senior citizens; sites for white women seeking black men; sites for men seeking Russian women (Thai women, Filipina women, Ukrainian women); and yes, Virginia, there are even sites exclusively for people seeking sexual encounters.
Do you not fall into any of those groups? Don't fret, there's more. Much more. There are sites for Ivy Leaguers, for shy people, for vegetarians, for rich people, for exes who are trying to reconcile, for people with herpes, and even for tall people-who apparently are sick of looking down at the rest of us as we scamper around looking for dates.
What I'm saying is that if you can't find a website suitable for your interests, you probably forgot to turn on your computer. So turn it on, start surfing, and get to work.
For the Uninitiated
In case this is the first time you're hearing about online dating, I want to give you a two-paragraph rundown of what to expect. I will then attempt to stretch these two paragraphs for another one hundred and eighty-four pages in order to fill out this book, because it would be a crime to charge $14.95 for a twenty-page pamphlet, don't you think?
Simply put, Internet dating sites are just like job-hunting sites, such as Monster.com, where everyone posts a résumé of his/her credentials. (I love metaphors, so just run with me on this one.) Your "résumé" is known as a profile. Profiles usually consist of a series of photos (optional for you shy types), a basic questionnaire listing your general information (height, weight, occupation), followed by anywhere from two to twenty essay questions. Don't panic or have flashbacks of your freshman-year writing course. The essays here are easy because you already know the answers. They're all about you. The advantage you'll have over other cyberdaters after reading this book is in understanding just how important these essays are. Those who skip them and expect to get results are often sorely disappointed.
Posting a profile on a website is usually free. Browsing to look at other members is usually free as well. The costs of online dating are only incurred when you want to write to someone or, on most websites, when you want to write back to someone who has written to you. An introductory email is the equivalent of a pick-up line, with one tremendous advantage-you are able to craft your letter based on information already provided to you in the profile. Once you make contact, you're on your own. You may email each other for weeks before exchanging phone numbers, or you can meet the very next day for coffee. There are no codified rules, except for the Golden Rule. You'll be thankful if you follow it, because the anonymity of the Internet tends to bring out the worst in people. This is no reason to lose faith in the medium, but rather a truth you have need to accept, just as one must deal with termites in a new house.
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe ...
Internet dating websites change their look as often as Madonna. When one company comes up with a feature where you can email a friend about a potential match, the rest of 'em are bound to hop on board and do the same. Eventually, all the sites are going to be eerily similar, and why not? If you have the technology to offer the same thing as your competitors, shouldn't you use it? Thankfully, online dating has not become completely homogenized as of yet, which is why this chapter exists.
It would be impossible to go into all of these sites in great detail, but I will provide an overview of some of the top ones with the largest databases and biggest brand names. This is far from a conclusive list, so I would encourage you to do your own research, but these sites are a solid starting point. Before you hop online, however, let's run down some of the things you need to do before investing your time in filling out an Internet dating profile.
Now, I'm not much on making readers do homework, but it may behoove you to get a pen and paper and answer one very straightforward question. Be honest. You might be surprised by what you have to say when you look inside and find out what it is that you're really searching for.
Okay, so what are you really searching for?
Sounds like this would be simple, but it turns out that it's not. And, for reasons that should be readily apparent, you need to figure this one out before you actually go on your first Internet date.
You might be like me-thirty-one and single and craving a serious relationship.
Excerpted from A COMMONSENSE GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL INTERNET DATING by Evan Marc Katz Copyright © 2003 by Evan Marc Katz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Prologue: "I Can't Believe I'm Buying this Book.": And Why You Should Get Over It, Pronto||xi|
|"What Kind of People do this? You, Your Neighbor, Your Mom, and Everyone Standing in Line at the Supermarket.": Accepting That Online Dating Is the Wave of the Present||1|
|"Petite, Shy Latina Woman Looking for Wealthy Ivy League Vegetarian Swinger.": Choosing the Best Site for Your Very Specific Needs||7|
|"Funny Guy with Killer Body and Money to Burn Seeks Woman Who Doesn't Believe Everything She Reads.": Headlines Don't Just Sell Newspapers, Y'Know||21|
|"I'm Tall, Smart, Funny, Down-to-Earth, Handsome, and Hopelessly Uncreative.": Your Essays as Online Resume, and Why Pimping (Yourself) Ain't Easy||29|
|"Think Carol and Mike Brady without the Flip Hairdo or the Afro.": Analyzing Five Superb Internet Dating Profiles and Why They Work||55|
|"That's You?!": On Why a Picture Is Worth at Least 250 Words (and Probably More)||69|
|"To Buy or Not to Buy, It's Not Even a Question.": Why Men Should Write to Women, Women Should Write to Men. and Everyone Should Buy a One-Year Subscription||81|
|"Hey, You Look Cute. Check Out My Profile.": Writing a Memorable Introductory Letter That Nobody Can Refuse||93|
|"No, No, No, Maybe, No, No, No...": Selectively Searching and Choosing Whom To Date||103|
|"This is How We Do It.": You Got a Response, Now Don't Screw It Up!||115|
|"Let's Not Meet for Coffee.": How Caffeine Kills Chemistry and Other Controversial Theories on Dating and Dating Safety||129|
|"It All Sounds So Great. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?": Stalkers, Scams, and Chat Rooms, Oh My!||141|
|"...and Then, After I Got My M.B.A. from Harvard, I was Named Vice President of Operations at a Dotcom, Broke Up with My Girlfriend of Three Years, and Moved Out West to Become a Screenwriter.": Knowing When to Shut Up and Listen (and Some Other Dating Tips You Might Find Useful)||149|
|"I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.": Having the Serenity to Accept the Things You Cannot Change and the Courage to Change the Things You Can||159|
|Epilogue: "Honesty...is Such a Lonely Word.": Why Being Yourself Is the Only Way to Successfully Find Love Online||167|
Posted May 30, 2005
This book I found to have some useful information for getting you started in the Internet scene. Nice quick items that you can use and apply when gettting online.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2005
I've bought and read many a book on this subject and this was a very funny and good book to read and learn some useful tips from. I would recommmend this to your collection.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2004
I first encountered Mr. Katz when I accompanied a friend to a local singles mixer where the author happened to be a guest speaker. Admittedly, I was a somewhat skeptical audience. I had been online dating for four months and had become a bit disillusioned with the process. Mr. Katz delivered a lively, engaging presentation, choc-full of useful insight and peppered with great humor. By the end of his presentation, my interest in online dating was renewed and I decided to purchase his book. I was not disappointed. This 'Commonsense Guide' takes the reader through the crucial steps of determining which site is best for you and how to create an alluring profile that will generate more responses. The author continues by addressing some specific potential pitfalls of online dating and how to avoid them. What is remarkable about this book is that it is written with a sense of humor and includes some truly laugh out loud moments while remaining honest and true to the serious matter of finding love. What I found especially surprising and pleasing about this book was the author's insight into the perspective of the female online dater. He accurately touched upon so many of the frustrations and challenges unique to women dating in cyberspace. I nodded with agreement and relief as he addressed my concerns one by one. This guy obviously did his homework. This book is an entertaining and informative read, and if you have the opportunity to catch Evan Marc Katz at a speaking engagement, do so.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2010
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