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Jewish Journal

Online Dating 101

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

April 8, 2011 | 5:00 am

You never know who is on the other end of the internet, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear Yenta,

So I recently signed up for an online dating site (JDate).  First day on I see this guy who I’ve met just once in “real” life (though long enough to become Facebook friends w/ him—I asked).  I’d like to be better friends with him either way, but first have to bridge the awkward divide…

Ideas to write to him? A friend suggested, now that we’re Facebook friends maybe we can be JDate friends. Groan. Any better ideas Yenta?

-J-Lost

Dear J-Lo,

There are a few laws involved in maintaining self-respect and limits when it comes to online dating.  I have a full handful of close friends who have discovered the loves of their lives online, so here are a few words to the wise.

1)  Be honest.  Be real.

2)  Not too honest.  Not too real.

Basically, you want to be giving a safe version of “you” out to the world.  One that if they take it, awesome, and if they leave it, no skin off your back.  If your stakes are high in an e-mail, he will either buy it and marry you, or be full on freaked by your desperation.

Some people can go full throttle with the online dating scene, partly because they don’t fear rejection. It is really a matter of how sensitive you are, in general.  Cultivate that fearless attitude, and you are golden.  It is done by simultaneously opening yourself and protecting yourself.  Giving just a little, watching, and continuing.  Like advancing towards a pirate ship.  Only in this case, you want to join the band of pirates.

With this guy I say just be straight up and say what you want.  “Hey!  Funny finding you here.   How are you?”  See how he takes it.  Go gentle so he can breathe.  With an “I want you, I always have wanted you, now we are e-friends in more ways than one,” he might suffocate.  Or, why not wait for him to come to you?  Not so unheard of.

Also, be wary of seeking your affirmation of self from e-dating.  If every conversation makes or breaks your self-esteem, you are in for a beating.  It is like weeding a garden until left with exactly what you hope to grow.  It takes time, differentiating the vegetables (lovers), the wild from the sustainable.  Capiche?  Love comes from you, from your family and from your friends.  Dating is just a fun social perk until, possibly, it turns into love.

In the end though, it is dating, i.e., a way of packaging and showing a sliver of yourself in hopes that someone else’s sliver of self likes you, at which point the sliver turns into a full on self-exposure/love affair.  Trust yourself and go easy on the gas.

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using www.send-email.org to ask anonymously.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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