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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rules of (Online) Engagement

Dear Mistress Maeve,

I never thought I would opt for online dating, but after moving to a new area, I figured, what the hell? The problem is, while I have always been ballsy in bars, my online dating skills are lacking. I feel more awkward turning a guy down over the Internet than I ever have in person. I also feel more timid before starting a thread of communication.

I think my problem is that even though all of these communications come through the great shield of a computer screen, I feel more exposed and vulnerable than I ever have while prowling in person. With online dating, my photo, occupation and town of residence are all listed for anyone to see.

I can’t tell a wink from a flirt from a poke. Can you give me some tips to make me more comfortable in my quest for online love?

Signed,
Searching in Cyberspace

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Dear Searching,

If you can't tell a wink from a poke, you've got bigger problems than you know — but I have faith that you can learn.

Dating in cyberspace is entirely different from browsing in bars. When flirting in public, you can make up a little white lie when an unsuitable suitor comes calling — like “I'm engaged,” or “I've had too much tequila, and I'm about to be sick.” However, when you post an online profile, you're announcing to the world that you're single and ready to mingle, thereby making a fast getaway less feasible.

Decide whether or not you're comfortable exposing yourself as single and available. If you're prepared to put yourself out there, be ready to be straightforward, honest and kind. Online dating is an exercise in integrity — if you're not turned on by a single who contacts you, respond swiftly, politely declining his/her advances.

And, please, be cautious. If you do find someone you like, don't give out your phone number or personal email address in the first correspondence. Be patient, exchange numerous messages back and forth, then arrange to meet in a public place — you might even consider bringing a friend along to ensure your date isn't a virtual nightmare.

TTYL,
MM

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