March 18, 2004
Get Untangled From Web of Bad Dates
Evan Marc Katz has never had a bad Internet date. Well, except for the time his date had an aneurysm -- and that was hardly his fault, was it? OK, aside from the time that Katz's blind date had a seizure, he's never had a bad Internet date. That's because he follows his own rules culled from five years of online dating (on seven different sites) as well as working at Internet Web sites.
Now the 31-year-old screenwriter has parlayed his experience into E-Cyrano -- an online dating consulting service, which, among other things, writes clients' essays for their profiles -- and "I Can't Believe I'm Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating," (Ten Speed Press) a cheeky, practical how-to book for newbies and old-timers; in other words, from naïve beginners who don't know where to start to jaded experts who don't know how to stop.
Jewish Journal: You used to work at JDate? How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Evan Marc Katz: I was already online dating for a few years when I ended up working on JDate.... After about two weeks on the job, I realized that I could write a book, because there were so many dissatisfied customers, and I felt when I was on the phone -- even if it was a billing question -- generally how little thought they were putting into their essays. I made my job into what I thought it should be.... It was a day job that just took on a life of its own.
JJ: Is Jewish dating different from regular online dating?
EMK: I think people take it just a little bit more seriously. I think that the quality of people on JDate is generally a little bit a higher quality, something endemic to Judaism is insularity and where they place their values: family, education, tradition. For people who stay within the tribe ... it's the name brand.
JJ: Has the Internet taken the place of the Jewish community?
EMK: It's created a different sense of community. It's not a replacement for anything -- it's a supplement...It's another way for people to meet people. But it's not a replacement.
JJ: Do you think it's disingenuous for E-Cyrano to write someone's profile?
EMK: To me it's the equivalent of a resume. If you're making up jobs on a resume, that's no good; if you're trying to put together a resume that would distinguish me from the pack, that's good.
We're just writing down what people say. I think a lot of people don't know why they're interesting. This is a tool to get you in the door, not to get you a job; if a person can't live up to their own hype, if you go out with someone who wrote a good essay without talking or e-mailing, if you go out with them, you get what you deserve, because you didn't do screening. I don't go on bad dates. I refuse to. It's simply because I take my time. My dates are -- at the worst -- there's no chemistry. They're never bad.
JJ: You never went on a bad date?
EMK: I think that these car wrecks can be avoided, if you're looking a little bit farther ahead.... Your love life is as serious as your work life and you should take it as seriously. I do think that the more you put in, the more you get out.
There's more to online dating than slapping up a picture [My book says]: How to get the most out of online dating sites, what kind of photos to post, where to meet someone and when to meet someone. I try to save people a lot of time and money and frustration from my own dating experiences.
JJ: What does it mean to be a successful online dater? You're not married, and yet you're writing this book...
EMK: You are a success in online dating if you are consistently meeting good people and enjoying the process. It's not the Internet's job to legislate whether people are compatible, or of finding "the one," but if you're meeting good people, it's just a matter of time. You attract what you put out there -- if you have a negative outlook in your profile, that's not all that attractive, is it? I am very positive about this, not because I'm Mr. Sunshine, but because I have lots of success and meet lots of people. I have fallen in love and I've had all these experiences, except for a ring on the finger -- and that's the next thing around the corner.
JJ: Do you think that online dating has ruined dating? Do you think it's made people tired of dating?
EMK: It does become somewhat addicting, and because there is always someone else, it makes it easier to revolve ... it has to do with the medium -- the ease with which we meet people. People become disposable. That revolving door is only going to stop when you decide to do it.
I've heard a woman who says, "I'm not doing this anymore," and to me that's like having a bad meal at a restaurant and going on a hunger strike. Place it in perspective -- you never have to go on a bad date if you take your time and you're a good judge of character. If you're going on five dates a week, that doesn't show much confidence that you think anything's going to work out.
Slow down! You take control of this medium instead of letting it take control of you.
Evan Marc Katz will speak at Border's Books on March 24, 7:30 p.m. 14651 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 728-6593. For information about E-Cyrano, visit www.e-cyrano.com .