I love me some online personals! Even when I had a boyfriend, I used to while away hours at work browsing for future ex-boyfriends and encouraging all my single friends to log on and get laid. Now that I'm unburdened again, I've gleefully started playing the cyberdating game for myself—and I've learned some things that may save you some cyberheartache, dearest readers.
When I started, I carefully composed my ad, posted it with a cute photo, and waited. A couple hours later I got my first response, and I was giddy—until I checked his ad. It included a photo of a moon-faced man making out with a woman who looked suspiciously like his sister. Delete.
Tip #1: Choose your photo wisely. Make sure you're alone in it and that you look at least passably attractive (if you're not sure, ask a sibling—they're always brutally honest). One gentleman sent me his passport photo, which was predictably unflattering (unless he really does have green skin). My friend Laura used a photo of herself sprawled across a fur rug wearing only a nightie. She's gotten 99 responses at last count. Bitch.
I'm impatient by nature and decided to answer a few ads, even though this costs money—I figured that if it led to one cute stranger's hand on my boobie, it'd be cash well spent. One rockabilly hottie e-bantered with me all night and then suddenly got sucked up into the void. Another, a tall, handsome bike messenger, stuck around, and we went out. After our second date, I found out we had some mutual friends—one of whom told me that cyberstudmonkey always dumped women after the second date. I made pretend I was different than those other girls, until later that same day I got an e-mail from him detailing how busy he'd be for the next, uh, summer. When I called him on his rep, he protested and continued to e-mail regularly, allowing me to revel in my delusion of being different. After a while I noted that while his hectic schedule didn't allow him to actually see me, he did manage to update his ad on a regular basis. D'oh.
Tip #2: It's a small, small world—ask around about anyone you're contemplating dating.
My friend Clint hooked up electronically with a woman whose ad said that she was 30. When they finally met up, she turned out to be 50.
Tip #3: Don't lie. Especially about stuff that's going to be obvious upon meeting you. Do you really want to watch somebody's face drop in disappointment?
"E-mail for awhile—this allows you to get to know his personality a bit before meeting him and reduces some of the tension when you finally do," suggests Janene, a 33-year-old district attorney. I'm even more cautious, first e-mailing, working up to phone calls, and then finally doing the in-person if all goes swell. Phone calls can make or break it. One guy was perfect on paper—I was practically planning our wedding until we spoke on the phone. Our conversation was like a bad job interview; I opted not to meet him, though strangely, he thought we got on great. Still another had a high-pitched, girly giggle that I just couldn't get past.
Tip #4: Baby steps. This is especially true if you're a breeder broad. Clint concedes, "The stories I've heard from women are funny/tragic—it sounds like the percentage of worthwhile men is much smaller than worthwhile women." (Just like in the real world!)
Handle first dates with people you've met online just like you'd handle any other. Janene's friends wisely advised her to meet in a public place, not to drink too much, and not to go home with him. "Other than meeting in a public place, I ignored it all," she told me. "After a couple drinks I found myself thinking, hmm— I could sleep with him. After several more drinks, we were discussing our mutual love for prescription drugs. He told me about one I had never tried, so I suggested that we go get them!" Long story short, Janene and Rohypnol Randy spent the weekend drinking, fucking, and gobbling pharmaceuticals. They've been together for six months now. She is my hero.
Tip #5: Take lots of drugs and fuck on the first date. Kidding (sort of).
Get sound advice (sort of) from Dategirl: Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.