Sunday, March 18, 2007

The perilous world of online dating

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BALTIMORE - This week, the intrepid Joan Allen has braved the wilds of online dating and returns from her dangerous expedition to tell the tale.

Joan: I went on my first date last week and would like to share some red-flag signals. First of all, the man asked very personal questions, such as “Why have you never gotten married? You’re beautiful and intelligent,” and “What red-flag signals have you observed about me?” This was our first date, and I felt like he was interviewing me. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I answered him honestly. I said, “The first red-flag signal is you’ve just had two double martinis, and I would be concerned about your drinking.” His answer? “My sister is an alcoholic, but I’m not. And I’m not going to change.” Needless to say, I never heard from him again.

Dan: Sounds like the date worked out perfectly. For me, a first date IS an interview situation: who are you, what are you about, now stand up and give us a spin. I don’t think his questions, or yours, were out of line, as you both learned what you needed to know — and isn’t it better to do that right off the bat rather than down the road after you’ve been dating this person five or six months?

Joan: When I told my friend Carol about my date, she offered a few of her favorite red-flag signs about Internet dating: men who’ve never been married, men who don’t call when they say they will, men who are very critical, men who say negative things about their former spouses, and best for last — after a third or fourth date with the same man, when you get home from that date and check your e-mails and find that he’s already online chatting with other women.

Now ladies, sing it to the tune of “My Favorite Things.” “When he’s negative, when he’s sneaky, when he won’t call back, just let your account expire from Match, and then it won’t seem so bad.”

Dan: Then I’m a walking red flag, as I’m 44 and never been married ... and neither have YOU! Actually, all of these apply to women as well. And here’s a few more: women who write, express interest and then disappear off the face of the earth. Women who take you for granted. Women who can’t deal with a man’s female friends. Women who say you’re great but then start dropping comments about your clothes, hair, home — ladies, men may be lumpy, but we’re not lumps of clay for you to mold; take us as we are or take yourself elsewhere. Women who see perceived slights in every word or gesture and demand apologies, free dinners and pedicures, but have no problems dropping atom bomb-sized insults about aforementioned clothes, hair, home, and if WE demand apologies, are informed we’re being wimpy.

And I don’t think to never have been married counts as a red flag. This is usually espoused by people who HAVE been married, realized they made a dumb mistake, got divorced and now embrace that “misery loves company” concept, encouraging everyone else around them to do the same dumb thing. I think, my dear Joanie, that you and I are too intelligent to marry just for the sake of being married. We want that person who is best for us on all levels, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, so that if and when we do marry, it is once and for all!

Joan: Amen!

Dan Collins is a terminally single 40-something writer and local PR maven. Joan Allen is a noted matchmaker extraordinaire and author of “Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate.”