Before the Internet, if you were single, you left the house to find friends or lovers – at work, in bars and gyms, through public events or private venues, art galleries, coffee shops, etc. Now, there is no reason to leave home. The WWW provides dozens of sites where you can meet, greet, and get hooked up with someone. Whether you are looking for just friends/companionship/weekend fun/dating/partnership/marriage or something kinky, there is a site for you. Some are free, some have membership fees.
When my husband and I were looking for each other back in 1997, Internet dating sites were few* and free. For me, the wallflower, it was quite exciting to get responses from men all over the country and the world. Since I was basically invisible/invincible, I blatantly stated the characteristics of the man for whom I was looking: nonsmoker, social drinker, witty, enjoys dancing, likes to read and travel, movie and concert goer, honest, financially secure, and between the ages of 45 and 55. In return I frankly stated that I was not a raving beauty, had a partial paralysis of my face, was trim and looking for a long-term relationship, liked swimming, racquetball, dancing, reading, writing, symphonies, traveling, and art.
Because I was living in Austin at the time, I decided to give Texans one last try. The men I deigned to meet for iced tea or lunch, after several emails and phone calls, proved to be liars. Foolishly, they had lied about their height and appearance, which was obvious as soon as I saw them. The way they ate or spoke about past relationships gave me the creeps. A couple prospects seemed too needy, while a couple others were just too weird. None of them had any imagination or enjoyed being out of Texas. The die was cast. With two marriages to Texans and nearly 30 years of motherhood under my belt I could not force myself to settle for anything less than what I was looking for – the love, affection, and respect of a good-hearted man. So, after five months, it was time to expand my quest.
Having been born and raised in hilly Indiana among towering maples, elms, birches, oaks, and evergreens, I was still pining for mountains, rivers, and tall trees. I altered my profile to include: “If you like what you have read and have a cabin in the woods outside of Texas….” Within one month this cute guy, who looked like Richard Dreyfuss and lived in the Santa Cruz mountains of California, emailed me and the rest became our history.
We emailed each other for a week before sharing phone numbers and beginning long conversations every night for nearly two months. Then he came to see me in Austin. When we hugged at the airport, that was it for me. I took him around Austin, the hill county, and San Antonio for two days. Before he left, I stopped on the side of the road. We looked at each other, and I asked, “Well, what do you think?” He grinned real big, held my hand, and said, “We’re meant for each other.” “Yep,” I agreed.
A month later I went to visit him, saw the awesome redwoods, and my soul sighed. I returned to Austin with a beautiful diamond and opal ring. Six weeks later he flew back to Texas, packed my belongings into a U-Haul, and whisked me away to his cabin in the woods. We honeymooned in Hawaii…
In the beginning of Internet dating, not every Tom, Dick, and pervert had a computer. It was safer. You didn’t exchange last names, phone numbers, or addresses until you felt comfortable. You met in public. (That should still be true today.) Within the past few years the online dating scene has exploded and become the method of choice for meeting people. The paid membership sites are the safest ones for anyone seeking a long-term relationship/marriage partner. You just have to remember to ask pertinent questions and be straightforward when answering them. Have fun, but be careful. It’s 2011 – you know the drill!
*By 1996 there were 16 dating sites on Yahoo!’s directory. Before that most singles’ sites were utilized for international mail-order brides.