Thursday, December 08, 2005

The EDate

On Line Dating
"The New Paradigm On How We Create Relationships"
From: A Crazy Little Thing Called Love and

I am an “EDate” survivor. Being an Edate, as I call it or online dating has changed the dynamics of how we meet and fall in love. I used to be one of them.

A brief history of online dating. There once was a love story called Linda and Leonard. They met online and lived happily ever after. But wait,that was really not the beginning. It goes back much further to the year 1979. In 1979 I was lucky to a pioneer in the phenomenon of communication via the home computer. I remember sitting at my Apple computer in the laundry room slash office having hooked up my acoustic coupler modem and receiving my first call on my computer. It was an engineer who was testing modems at Arco in downtown Los Angeles. I was amazed. Imagine me, a housewife sitting at my house in Woodland Hills California talking to someone who I didn’t even know. Neither of us knew each other’s age, our physical appearance nor the sound of the others voice. Here we were typing, two pioneering souls in the new cyber society.

I had belonged to the Apple Corp, a grassroots computer club that met at UCLA. A group of computer “nerds” as we were called back then, fascinated with these machines that would revolutionize not only our world, but the entire world. As part of the club, we included our phone number in a newsletter and I became one of 12 Bulletin Board Systems or BBS’s for short, that had sprung up around the country. The phone continued to ring and my little computer continued to bring me new people from all over southern California. I started to see that communication without face to face or voice to voice would change how we view each other. I had days when I sat in my bathrobe, slippers and having a bad hair day. But who cared? I was welcomed and greeted for no matter how I was looking or feeling. The person I was communicating with could only visualize me from what I was typing.

In 1981, our modem bulletin board system went from one user to a 12 users system. The computer community grew. We called it Mail Pac. The Los Angeles Times ran a story about it and more people joined the Mail Pac village. We became a family. A group of people who could sit at their home and talk to each other at one central system, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We started to meet for pizza every month so we could see what each other looked like in person. These were single people, families, children and parents. All these people could see the vision of what the internet would soon become. At the first meeting, I was amazed to see that the little community came in all ages. The faces behind the screen names ranged from ages 8 to age 75. The computer allowed all of us to be “you” without anyone really knowing what color hair you had, how tall you were or even your age.

This community included a housewife from Santa Monica<, one celebrity endorsement agent, a well known songwriter, a television writer for a major network, a retired air force sergeant, an 8 year old from Van Nuys, a corporate sales manager, a sound engineer, a child actor from Encino and yes even a non sighted person. Each could be equally accepted for our individual mind and not our appearance. We forged a bond that we might not have happened if we were neighbors, coworkers or friends. We could say whatever we wanted; we could share our moods, our daily ups and downs, our fears and our hopes. Our lives became interactive all hours of the day, it was real time problem solving. As in life, all other facets of human interaction kicked in. That included online romances for example. When you live behind a screen name, you can be anyone your heart desired. It’s amazing what can happen. You could be any age, any sex, and any martial status. Handicaps do not exist.

The success story was that a woman named Linda Thomas. She met a man named Leonard who called in; they typed for hours and finally talked on the phone. One night he showed up at her door step and never left. They got married and went off into the sunset happily ever after. This was 1983 but soon our community would be gobbled up by bigger giants who came onto the scene smelling profit. The CompuServes.

Moving into the future: The Linda and Leonard love story has changed slightly. Although online dating today is not different in its approach, the gene pool, so to speak, has gone from a handful of singles to millions of singles not only in this country but all over the world. Whether you are listed on, Eharmony, or, you can still be anyone you want to be. And that right there is the first problem. You don’t even have to ever meet the other person You can become what I term a serial Edate just by sitting on your couch and typing away. Charm the potential prince from your kitchen counter or cheer up the lovely damsel from your desk at work. We can live our love life in fantasy.

When beginning your new role as an online availability, most of us must choose the words describing ourselves, or at least in our opinion how we see ourselves. Since there is no one to judge the real facts, you can write down anything you see applies to you. If you are slightly overweight and don’t think of yourself that way, you become “average”. If you smoke but you really you are going to give it up, you might list yourself as a non smoker. You can literally create your persona for the entire world to see and right from the comfort of your own home. Then you go on exhibit.

What I learned about playing the Cyrano de bergerac back then was that most of the people who sign into the services are hiding behind a screen name, a description and a photo and often times not even a current photo. It is our introduction to others, our potential mate and it is so important because it is what we put out as the first impression. And we wonder why things don’t always work out?

I questioned seven people who have been an online dating site for more than two years. Each had the same goal. “To meet the love of my life”. Has each of these people done that? No, the sad part is that out of the seven cases, none have met the perfect match. Actually most had met what they considered their perfect match only to have it end in failure within months and often time after just four dates. Has each person been happy with this dating process? Their answers to what they want and what they actually mean might be two different things. All have been confronted with the indecision of staying another month or taking themselves off. Some actually have removed their profiles and then came on again once a relationship does not appear to be going anywhere. So why do they stay?

Options for meeting singles is primarily bars, single events, friends, family and church. Let’s not forget the workplace then again I’ve heard horror stories about mixing business and pleasure. Each of these people are within the ages of 32 to 62. Most are professional people or people who have had a good education, stable upbringing and are financially secure. The question remains, what goes wrong? The real answer might be that nothing is wrong. It is not the online dating system that has failed them, it is how they treat the online dating system, the purpose of online dating really is about. Did you ever wonder how many people are actually on single sites and how many people do find relationships that last more than one year.

I don’t think online dating is an ending, although most shoppers are looking at each product as an ending. What if they understood it to be a store? A place where you can shop for possibilities and opportunities. Let the happily ever after come later. Looking at every photo and profile as happily ever after can be dangerous business. It leaves out so many factors. But it can be used as exposure. Playing the odds so to speak. Not necessarily an end of the journey. In my test cases, do they represent themselves as I saw them?

Subject Number One: male, fifties, nice looking, and excellent job. How many dates has he secured from his online experience? He said he lost count in year one but it probably has totaled about 70 -75, ranging in all ages. Has any of these encounters worked out on a long term? “No” he answered. He has had a lot of fun, met a lot of woman. Is he carrying baggage in his nifty luggage called life experience? What is he like in his personal dating life in comparison to his online dating life? His photo reflects an accurate portrait of what he looks like. What both ofthese things do not show is that he is an incredible womanizer, attacking any new female face at any party or at any social event. In real life, he is the serial womanizer, never finding the ideal woman he sees in his mind, always looking for Cinderella in the next female he sets his eyes upon. Was the internet really the wrong choice for finding Ms Perfect? I’d say no. The internet is where he belongs.

Subject Number Two. Female, age 58, married for many years, widowed. Faithful in her marriage before her husband’s death. Became an addict to about eight months ago. Has met and dated about 12 men, the longest span being 1 month. She claims she wants only one special person in her life, someone who loves her, someone she can love. When asked why she felt none of the men she met from her Edate worked out, she claimed that they or most of them had flaws. None was as perfect as her husband had been. One in particular did not know how to spell properly, most lived too far away, although she knew exactly where they lived when she wrote to them, some were shorter or taller than she imagined, as if that should make a difference. But the most important fact seemed to be in her response, “there was no personal chemistry” or connection when she met them in person. Is internet dating actually the right choice for this pouncer? Probably.

Subject Number Three: Single, female, 36 years old. Has dated perhaps over 150 men in one year alone on the internet. At one stage she had a breakfast, lunch and dinner meeting each day of the week. I guess she knew how to save on grocery bills! Did any of these men work out? The answer is no. It didn’t work for the three years she was on a number of sites. She once got thru one whole month of one man. She is off the love matches these days and has become a serial dater in real life. The difference is that she meets her men in bars. Was internet dating the wrong choice for this feline stray? The answer is no!

I am a lucky winner at online match making. I tried the all promising, “total match compatibility”. Forget it. I matched 100% with a 26 year old in New York City. The problem was I was a 56 year old in Seattle Washington! After a very few sorted coffee dates with tedious small talk, I found exactly what I had hoped. A sweet wonderful man who far exceeded my expectations physically and mentally. I am perhaps rare in the big scope of things. Why? I looked at this phenomenon as a possibility and not as a direct solution. I knew what qualities I was looking for at the core of a person. I did not judge by someone’s photo nor their typing skills. I looked beyond to realize it would all come down to how I felt when I was in close contact to that person.

I looked at internet dating as nothing more than a dating store. It allowed me to shop until I dropped so to speak with endless possibilities. Not only did I not have to buy, I could try it on as well. Money back guaranteed. It was the door opener not the promise of happily ever after. It saved me from getting all dolled up and parading myself in front of a group of eligible bachelors. I never have liked the thought of feeling as if I was in a beauty competition and I truly believe in time management. Online shopping allowed me a heavy dose of time management. Pick and choose, that’s what it is all about. You can pick and choose until you find exactly the right one. It reminded me of being a kid with a box of chocolates, taking a little nibble out of some of them until I could find the prized chocolate in the middle. Toss the rest in the trash.

From my research as a writer, I knew that chemistry isn’t necessarily a stock portfolio nor size of someone shoe. It is far more greater than that. Chemistry is simple about chemicals. Chemicals that arouse our senses to get those pheromones going. It is not about logic, it is about love. And in reality can anyone ever figure out what love really is?

In conclusion, I think internet dating is a good thing. It allows us a grander marketplace for finding that right person. But remembering, the right person might even be called, the right “people”. Is there really happily ever after in a world of rapid changes? What is happily ever after for a 55 year old when you can see that shorter span in front of you, then the longer span you have already lived. Or for a 21 year old when the marriage statistics say that one in every two marriages will fail? Love and your love life in the millennium sadly might be about chapters and not about one complete romance novel. Seeing the internet for what it is and no more than that, could possibly help those who have these wild eyed fantasies about finding one perfect love. Look at it as the Sears catalog ofpotential and not as the end result of a probability. If you do you, might find that magic will happen.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Wow. Can I interview for a relationship book I'm working on? I'm looking for experts in the field of relationships and I will give your book in your byline. There is a form you can fill out at in which you can tell me how you found your soul mate mentioning the internet angle. Thanks!