Yes, it's an old theme, but I feel an anti-internet dating rant coming on. When people email me with questions born of internet dating, I begin to doubt my auntly omniscience. Men who seem like lions or heroes over the internet show up on real dates looking like mice or extras on Star Trek. Women who put up glamour shots on their profiles show up looking ten years older. No wonder almost everybody drags their feet over meeting up. Being leonine or forever twenty-two in fantasyland starts to seem better than being just you in a cafe.
My absolute, ironclad rule about internet dating is that if you meet someone you find attractive on a dating website, you should meet them as soon as possible. And if you really aren't able to relocate 500 miles away for love, stop claiming on dating websites that you can. If you live in Brighton, Massachusetts, stop looking at photos of men in California.
The usual rules for meeting strangers apply. Google his/her name and read up on him/her on the internet. Arrange to meet for afternoon coffee in a public place. Tell a friend where you are going. Carry a mobile phone, cab fare and enough money to cover the bill. (If you are a woman, there is always the chance that he will dine and dash. This happened to a friend of mine on a dinner date; it turned out the man was notorious.) Be kind and polite for the entire 1.5 hours of date. Never bring him/her home or go back to his/her place or to his/her friend's place.
Meanwhile, I loathe loathe loathe internet dating because almost nobody will take my "meet up ASAP" advice and the birthrate of awkward half-friendship, half-fantasy relationship monsters will continue to rise, preventing Singles everywhere from becoming Seraphic.
This is where a newish reader will say "But, Seraphic, what about you?" and I will state the following:
A) I met my husband through my blog, not through a dating site
B) I was friends with one of his friends, whose brilliant idea our marriage first was
C) we corresponded through our respective comboxes and by occasional emails, not by instant message
D) his emails were so few and far between, I never got my hopes up
E) before my Scotland holiday I sent him the most recent, least glamorous (but still descriptive) photo I could find: my own dear current self smoking a cigar. This was to discourage any hopes that I might be a peerless beauty, and in actual fact, my real-life personal appearance was, he claims, a nice surprise. Wearing a skirt proved to be a good move.