For an introvert like myself, online dating was perhaps a natural thing. At the time, it emphasized written communication and allowed for easy selection of future dates. It was a simple matter of creating an account and seeing who responded. Practical knowledge of how to do this safely and effectively was much harder won, though.
As I had a Yahoo account at the time, I began with their dating site. It was free to use and seemed like an easy entry into the practice. I soon found out, though, that free is not always good. I began receiving emails from people who seemed unhinged, or just simply clingy. As a newbie to online dating, I hadn’t thought to create a new email address to use only for the site, and so I had strange men sending emails to my main address. Lesson one in online dating safety.
It was through this online dating site that I met in person my first date, a 40-year-old man who was crazy about Mickey Mouse and repeatedly resorted to the statement, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” said in an exaggerated Southern accent, of course. We had very little in common, and I found his arrogance far from charming. Fortunately, we met in a public place, and so he never knew where I lived. We didn’t meet again, and I soon left Yahoo dating for good.
One growing paid dating site at the time was Match.com. Although it would cost money, I hoped that it would eliminate some of the problems that I found with Yahoo dating. Unlike the Yahoo site, it had an internal messaging system, which allowed for anonymous and safer contacts, unlike the direct emails and IM’s. I also hoped that a paid site would eliminate some of the “crazy factor.”
I created my account on Match.com in 2003 and soon received a message through the system from the man who would be my husband. We IM’d each other for at least a week before we met in person. Soon we were calling each other every night, chatting over IM, and seeing each other almost every weekend. A whirlwind, technological romance quickly formed, and we quickly married. The rest, I suppose, is history.
Although online dating sites have grown in popularity since that time, I realized during my dating years that they were still considered the refuge of the desperate. They were not yet quite mainstream or socially acceptable. Too I found that my friends repeatedly warned me that it was dangerous to date someone online. Of course, these perceptions have changed somewhat over time, but the general lessons that I learned still remain true. True love can be found through the internet even if the process of getting there can be somewhat interesting.