Love & Dating on the Internet - 11/13/03
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Thu Nov 13 23:45:19 EST 2003
subject: Love & Dating on the Internet - 11/13/03
from: Smart Marriages®
- LOVE, INTERNET STYLE
- NO TIME FOR DATING?
> I hope you run this article from the NY Times....we should be paying much more
> attention to the positive changes that could emerge from the Internet, as
> well as worrying about the "married and flirting" chat rooms.
> This is very encouraging. I love the idea that structure (maybe even goals
> and values) is becoming valued again. The couples that I see who have
> "hooked up" after one night, and are cohabiting, usually unhappily, without
> commitment, could have used a lot more "structure".
> Jana Staton
- LOVE, INTERNET STYLE
Op-Ed Columnist: Love, Internet Style
NEW YORK TIMES
November 8, 2003
By DAVID BROOKS
The Internet slows things down.
If you're dating in the Age of the Hook-Up, sex is this
looming possibility from the first moment you meet a
prospective partner. But couples who meet through online
dating services tend to exchange e-mail for weeks or
months. Then they'll progress to phone conversations for a
few more weeks. Only then will there be a face-to-face
meeting, almost always at some public place early in the
evening, and the first date will often be tentative and
Online dating puts structure back into courtship. For
generations Americans had certain courtship rituals. The
boy would call the girl and ask her to the movies. He might
come in and meet the father. After a few dates he might ask
her to go steady. Sex would progress gradually from kissing
to petting and beyond.
But over the past few decades that structure dissolved. And
human beings, who are really good at adapting, found that
the Internet, of all places, imposes the restraints they
need to let relationships develop gradually. So now 40
million Americans look at online dating sites each month,
and we are seeing a revolution in the way people meet and
court one another.
The new restraints are not like the old restraints. The
online dating scene is like a real estate market where
people go to fulfill their most sensitive needs. It is at
once ruthlessly transactional and strangely tender.
It begins with sorting. Online daters can scan through
millions of possible partners in an evening and select for
age, education, height, politics, religion and ethnic
background. JDate is a popular site for Jews. EHarmony
insists that members fill out a long, introspective
questionnaire, and thus is one of the few sites where most
members are women. Vanity Date is for the South Beach
crowd. "At Vanity Date," the Web site declares, "we have a
vision of creating the largest database of the world's most
good-looking, rich and superficial people."
Most of the sites have programs that link you up with
people like yourself. One of the side effects of online
dating is that it is bound to accelerate social
stratification, as highly educated people become more
efficient at finding and marrying one another.
Each member at a dating site creates his or her own Web
page. The most important feature on the page is the photo;
studies show that looks are twice as powerful as income in
But there are also autobiographical essays. If you judged
by these essays, skinny-dipping with intellectuals is the
most popular activity in America. All the writers try to
show they are sensual yet smart.
The women on these sites are, or project themselves as
being, incredibly self-confident. "I am a vivacious,
intelligent, warm-hearted, attractive, cool chick, with a
sharp, witty, and effervescent personality," writes one on
Match.com. Another says: "I am a slender, radiantly
beautiful woman on fire with passion and enthusiasm for
life. I am articulate, intelligent and routinely given the
accolade of being brilliant."
Still, men almost always make the first contact.
Prospective partners begin a long series of e-mail
interviews. Internet exchanges encourage both extreme
honesty (the strangers-on-a-train phenomenon) and extreme
dishonesty, as people lie about their ages, their jobs,
whether they have kids and, most often, whether they are
married. (About a fifth of online daters are married men.)
Whatever else has changed, men are more likely to be
predators looking for sex, while women try to hold back.
Men will ask women for more photos "from different angles."
A woman, wanting to be reassured that this guy is not some
rapist, will shut off anyone who calls her "hottie" or who
mentions sex first. Women generally control the pace of the
But despite all the crass competition, all the marketing,
all the shopping around, people connect. Studies by Katelyn
McKenna at N.Y.U. and others indicate that Internet
relationships are at least as powerful as relationships
that begin face to face. Many people are better at
revealing their true selves through the keyboard than
through conversation. And couples who slow down and prolong
the e-mail phase have a better chance of seeing their
relationships last than people who get together more
The online dating world is superficially cynical. The word
"love" will almost never appear on a member's page, because
it is so heavy and intimidating. But love is what this is
all about. And the heart, even in this commercial age,
finds a way.??
- NO TIME FOR DATING?
November 13, 2003
No time for dating? You're not alone Courtship is out as today's cupids
shift to 'speed dates,' online connections and action plans
By Olivia Barker
When it comes to finding that special someone, Steve Lee waxes analytic: In
16 months, the Manhattan hedge-fund manager sped through 2,500 three-minute
HurryDates, at about $1.45 a date, not to mention 100 ''real dates'' that
lasted at least the length of a cup of coffee.
''I take a very practical approach to finding the right person,'' says Lee,
27, a Wharton business school graduate who likens the dating market to the
stock market, tossing around terms such as ''liquidity'' and ''market
value.'' In fact, if he had his druthers, those mini-dates would last a
minute, just enough time to gauge someone's personality and whether ''they
have bad breath.''
Last September, 495 days into this, his ''second full-time job,'' Lee found
social worker Elyse Hart, 30, ''by far the most amazing person I've met in
my life.'' They've made it past date No. 10. The marriage proposal? That's
scheduled for ''around Feb. 7.''
Lee's method, though perhaps systematic to the extreme, illustrates what
experts are calling the most significant shift in American dating culture
since the mid-1960s. Back then, there existed something called courtship, in
which couples came together with the help of college mixers, church socials
and meddling parents, and were often engaged before their 21st birthdays.
These days, twenty- and thirtysomething singles who spent their post-college
years focused on their careers instead of their love lives don't have such
matchmaking resources. Nor do they have the time to look for a mate the
old-fashioned way -- or wait for one to stumble into their lives.
So they're shunning the serendipitous, sweaty-palmed aspects of courtship
and embracing efficiency in the form of ''speed'' dating, online dating and
15-step dating action plans.
Speed-dating events take singles through a series of three- to 10-minute
mini-dates, often at bars. At the end of the night, suitors designate whom
they'd like to see again; if there's a match, the wooing begins. Venues
continue to open up in markets throughout the USA, from Dover, Del., to
Sioux City, Iowa.
Online personals have all but shed their stigma, evolving from a last resort
to, as one Internet dater put it, a first line of defense. Americans spent
$214 million on Internet dating during the first half of 2003. That's up 76%
from the same period last year, according to the Online Publishers
Association. Meanwhile, a handful of relationship-building books have been
published in the past year, and it's no surprise that they're written by
MBAs and marketers.
''This is a watershed moment in the long history of courtship,'' says social
historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, author of Why There Are No Good Men Left:
The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman. Much as the automobile
revolutionized dating in the 1920s and the birth control pill transformed
mating in the 1960s, the Internet has reshaped the relationships of today,
To wit: a recent New Yorker cartoon in which a scowling cupid mutters,
''Fine -- if they all want to meet online, screw them.''
''All the romantic mythology of an earlier era came from poets and
songwriters,'' Whitehead says. ''Now we're into science and technology and
And if sex was the precious commodity withheld by women a couple of
generations ago, time is today's analogue, Whitehead says, carefully
measured and calculated by men and women alike. If yesterday's message was
''Don't squander your virginity on a loser,'' today's is ''Don't waste time
on one.'' Matters of the heart, it seems, have become orchestrated by the
These structured means of meeting singles were initially embraced by young,
urban never-marrieds toiling at 60-hour-a-week jobs, miles from the mating
networks their hometowns supplied. Now, online and speed dating have hit the
heartland, to towns where saying ''I do'' in your 20s is still the norm and
where single thirtysomethings are in short supply.
Efficiency also is being adopted by those over 35, among single parents with
no time to linger over dinner-and-a-movie dates and among women with
precious years left to have children.
Conduct 'exit interview'
No wonder that Rachel Greenwald's book, Find a Husband After 35 Using What I
Learned at Harvard Business School: A Simple 15-Step Action Program, proved
an instant hit when it came out in September. One of her steps involves the
''exit interview'': having a third person question doomed dates to determine
why sparks fizzled.
Greenwald dismisses critics of her clinical approach. ''I don't think
romance is dead,'' says Greenwald. ''It comes after you've found the
wonderful man, not necessarily in the search process.'' Dating, she says, is
simply the most recent realm to absorb business practices, like health care,
education and the non-profit worlds before it.
When Dress for Success arrived in 1975, naysayers accused John Molloy of
squeezing ''the romance out of clothing,'' Molloy says. The reaction to his
latest book, Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others: The Fascinating
Research That Can Land You the Husband of Your Dreams, ''has been
identical.'' Malloy says that heeding his do's and don'ts increases your
chances of marrying by 60%. One of his ''statistical realities'': ''Men make
up their minds about a girl in three minutes.''
He's got evidence in the form of Peter Ji, a research psychologist who
prefers speed dating to the online variety.
''You have to wait and wait and wait'' for a response via Match.com and the
like, whereas with FastDater, his speed-dating service of choice, ''you get
immediate feedback.'' During one three-minute encounter, a woman sat down
and handed out a veritable resume, says Ji, 33, who lives in Elmhurst, Ill.
'' 'This is what I do; these are my activities.' ''
''I thought it was clever,'' Ji says. He indicated that he wanted to see the
woman again; alas, she didn't choose him.
Nonetheless, the new ways work, at least according to their champions.
8minuteDating estimates that it has sparked around 100 engagements and
marriages out of about 104,600 users -- and those are only the known
stories. Twenty engaged pairs and one married couple have e-mailed HurryDate
to share their good news. More than 89,000 members told Match.com last year
that they ''found the person they were seeking,'' according to the site's
Kerry Wargo Clough of Easton, Md., has Match.com to thank for finding her
husband, Dennis. (They tied the knot in September.) Only a few years ago,
Clough, 31, a fundraising consultant, turned up her nose at Internet
personals. ''I thought, 'There is no way. I should be able to meet my
husband naturally,' '' such as through her cycling hobby. Clough's advice
when it comes to cyber love connections? ''Give up the snobbery.''
But Eric Walker burns at least a small candle for the fantasy of ''two
star-crossed lovers running through a field of poppies.'' With online
dating, ''I felt like I was I ordering a sweater from J. Crew,'' says
Walker, 32, a Manhattan teacher. ''You look at the picture, you look at the
description and you find the right size. There was no magic to it, no
Filling a dating 'quota'?
Sasha Cagen doesn't have much of a problem with online dating; it's speed
dating that makes her ''a little sick.'' Cagen is the author of the
forthcoming Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, a book
that celebrates the state of being unattached as a healthy, positive
''It would be nice if we could encourage the idea of people spending time
with other people because they genuinely like them, not to fill a quota,''
says Cagen, 30, a singleton living in San Francisco.
If nothing else, the travails of the modern mate-seeker entertain their
friends. One night, Linda Nelson scheduled three phone appointments with men
she met through online personals. Her notes ready, their profiles printed
out, she nonetheless got ''a little flustered'' by the time she chatted with
Bachelor No. 3, so much so that she clammed up during a subsequent
face-to-face date with Bachelor No. 2 because she wasn't sure which one he
The numbers can get so dizzying that some serial daters take a strategic
approach to organizing their meet-and-greets. Lee used one of his favorite
financial tools: the spreadsheet, charting his soul-mate searches according
to such subjects as topics discussed (rent control or silver BMW 325xis with
black interior) and outfits worn (his blue-and-white Thomas Pink shirt or
red Turnbull & Asser).
''It's a procedure now,'' says Nelson, 35, an executive assistant in San
Diego. ''You start with a few e-mail exchanges. That progresses to the guy
giving out his phone number. Then you meet for coffee, always coffee.'' And
then maybe, if things go according to the grand plan, the date segues to
dinner and a walk on the beach.
''It's very time-consuming, this dating business,'' Nelson says.
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