Romance 101: How to Find Love on the Internet
Copyright © 1999 Kathy LaFollett. All rights reserved.
I hear the laughter already! Love? A real relationship from the Internet, you say? That's right! My husband and I are the perfect example. I was working in the downtown area of Peoria as a recruiter. My husband, Cal, was then a Master Tire Builder working nights and living in Mackinaw, but because we both were on the same ISP and chatting on the same community access, no amount of distance (30 miles) or career schedule could keep us apart.
(Bring up romantic music, fade lights.) So I'm on the Internet at work and this little window pops up on the screen with the word "hello." I type "hello" and hit send. The rest is history (and an outline for this article). It's a little hard to accidentally meet somebody through email; you have to chat first. I suggest you start with LovingYou, a great site where men and women are online specifically for raisons d'amour!
You see, the beauty of online romance is that it is clean and pure. You can't see the other person's dirty laundry, bad habits, or dandruff. You can think before you write, carefully selecting every word before you deliver it. In essence, you can be whomever you want to be. It's like that movie with Tom and Meg; you really don't know who is conversing with you, and vice versa.
Consider a joke I found online. Two dogs are sitting in front of a computer monitor, surfing the Internet. One dog says to the other, "Ya know, they don't know we're dogs."
Had Meg been a little sharper she probably would have known to look up Tom's address on Yahoo to find out who and what he really was and did! In actuality, you just think you know these things after about one hour of yapping on chat or a few dozen emails.
Of course, you could do what my man did when we were emailing -- send a JPEG of yourself! That, of course, takes intestinal fortitude because you don't really know what the other person will find visually attractive. Also, you need to know how to scan and save a JPEG, and how to attach it to an email message. Which brings up another thought. To email or chat for love youmust be Internet and computer savvy -- so much so that you can send files, or flowers and gifts from Fun2Give, or love notes with the help of LoveLetters, or even cyber kisses found conveniently at VirtualKiss. Tom and Meg didn't do that! Had they done some checking into the matter they would have also found out that the top five benefits of kissing (and I believe this list applies to virtual kisses) are:
1. Prevents tooth decay
2. Eliminates tension
3. Weight loss (10 calories are burned for every 10 minutes of kissing)
4. Improved cardiovascular condition (need I expand on this?)
5. Improved self-esteem (unless your kissee pulls away and yells, "Yuck!")
Above all, I strongly suggest that you go ahead and be yourself because there may come a day that you will have to back those words you typed online, in person. Of course, if things seem to get really sticky during your first meeting you can quickly find a nearby computer and jump on CyberShrink to consult a professional melon-grinder. Or you can go Mystic to consult your LoveHoroscope and see what the stars say about the whole matter. Then again, you may want to consider running a background check before you get to the JPEG phase. Just click your way to the truth atDateSmart.
I figure that whole movie with Tom and Meg would have ground to a screeching halt had they used half of this information.
If you'd rather not take any chances with the role of the chat dice, you can always visit sites designed to help you meet people from all over the world. Unfortunately, as I researched the Net for this article I noticed that the Web seemed lopsided and sexist. (Just how many male Webmasters are there, anyway?) I found hundreds of sites on which men can find and meet women specifically, but I couldn't find very many sites on which women could find men specifically. Not that I'm looking, mind you, but I had to keep score. For instance, men can find women in Russia at Kiss, Chinese women on Dinner for Two, or mail-order brides from Latin America and Europe at Latin.
If you'd like to meet many other singles at one time, I highly recommend taking a cruise on the Love Boat. SinglesCruises, is dedicated to taking reservations for a cruise with other singles looking for love on the high seas. Taking a cruise to meet that special someone will naturally eliminate that first perfect impression made online, but you can always use email after the love connection to stay in contact while you plan another meeting.
Nevertheless, speaking from personal experience, the best place to start is a community chat and page system on your local ISP. It worked for me. Had Tom or Meg used AOL properly, they would have found a huge number of people to choose from rather than just the person right around the corner. And you can't tell me two smart business owners wouldn't have figured that whole scenario out within the first 15 minutes of the movie!
As you email and chat your way to a new life, remember to listen to inspiring music on Broadcast. This site has the last 100 years of romantic music ready to play.
Forget the bar scene, blind dates, your sister's matchmaking efforts, and lame office happy hours. There's a whole world of possibilities in cyberspace. You too can be like Tom, Meg, Kathy or Cal. Plug into the romantic music, decorate your house in red hearts, watch "Casablanca," then join in on the romance and intrigue found on the Internet.
Kathy LaFollett is a business partner and co-founder of one of Central Illinois' premier contingency and retained executive placement firms, as well as a technical and generalist recruiter with 12 years' experience in marketing and sales.