glide toward each other, exchange repartee and, after dancing the night away, head back to your place for a good old-fashioned kiss goodnight.
After a few dates, you'd get involved, become an item, and then move in together. It was just the two of you. The happy couple. Alone. Together.
No more. The world has changed and so has dating. Today, when we date someone, it's no longer just the two of us. No. Now, it's always a threesome: you, him and that all-intrusive technology. It's what I call a "Ménage à Tech."
The ménage à tech is prevalent in every stage of dating. First, you log in to Internet dating sites. After perusing a gigabyte of singles, e-mailing and instant messaging for weeks, you actually find someone you want to hook up with ... and arrange a date. Aha, romance is on the way!
You meet at Starbucks. Your eyes scour the room filled with people on their laptops until you see a familiar face. It's your virtual date waiting for you. And in reality, he even looks like his photo! Smiling, you walk to the table, remove your earbuds and exchange hellos. You like each other and make a date for Saturday night.
That's when your ménage à tech escalates. Your date takes you to a romantic, candle-lit restaurant. During dinner, his hand slips under the table. You shiver just thinking about him tenderly brushing your thigh. But alas, the touch never arrives. No. He's text messaging! And checking e-mails on his Blackberry!
Still, he's such a hottie. So when he invites you back to his place, you accept. But once there, does he cuddle up with you on the couch or snuggle in front of the fireplace? Uh-uh. He plops you down in front of his computer to show you his favorite YouTube videos, his myspace friends and check his eBay auctions! This guy is a heartbreaker.
After an hour of cyber play, he finally gets romantic. Mmmm, it's heaven. So you keep dating. There are more dinners, movies and picnics ... always accompanied by his trove of technology tools. Your ménage à tech is in full swing.
Then, on your one-month anniversary, he surprises you with a beautifully wrapped gift -- his and her iPods. Terrific! Now you can listen to music together -- separately!
Next, you move in together, but in the evenings -- instead of sharing a bottle of wine, reading poetry or taking an amorous bubble bath -- you both go to your individual computers. He has to backup some files, burn some CDs and download some upgrades. You have to upload some photos, publish your blog and post your podcast!
You're living together, but spending your nights facing the back of each other's computer screens. Your romance is at an all-time high -- lots of memorable evenings with Dell and Mac. Instead of love letters, there are e-cards; instead of moonlight walks, there are tours on Google Earth. And instead of passionate love-making, it's Berry-interruptus.
As the relationship continues, you're spending more and more time on your own computers -- and soon, you're surreptitiously surfing Internet dating sites again! One night, you unwittingly "wink" at each other on www.LoversWithoutLaptops.com. Oops! You break up, and then the cycle starts again. You meet someone on the Internet and begin another ménage à tech.
Stop ... please ... don't! Technology is wonderful, but it's killing romance!
My recommendation? In addition to the hands-free law for cell phones while driving, I suggest a tech-free law for couples while dating. So turn off your phones, close your laptops and reboot your love-life.
And the next time someone answers the call of technology when you're on a date -- mute his ringtone, log him out and delete his hard drive!
Marilyn Anderson is the author of "Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl's Guide to Creatures from the Dating Swamp" (Red Rock Press, 2003). Her web site is www.neverkissafrog.com.