My days as an internet dating pioneer.

(If you’ve been with me a while, you may have read an earlier version of this post.) 

In 2012, it’s pretty hard to find someone who hasn’t at least perused an online dating site at some point. Or talked about one. Or heard about someone’s harrowing experience using one. There’s nothing wrong with meeting people with whom you’ve only emailed. One of my best and closest friends has only laid eyes on me twice, and I tell her just about everything.

There are some scary stories out there about bad things happening to people who meet strangers off the internet, but there are scary stories out there about people who met someone in a bar, at work, in the library, or at church. Not everyone on the internet is nuts (you’re here, right?), but the people who are nuts can find a much bigger audience.

I was an internet dating pioneer. I used to have a profile on Yahoo Personals back when it was free and it was one of the first internet dating sites out there. I was probably 19 or 20 at the time, when there were 45 guys online for every girl. Almost everyone had dial-up, so pictures were few and far between, and what you could see would be grainy and not very helpful at all. I loved the internet. I loved the idea of showing someone my personality and having discussions with them before meeting them face-to-face.

Then I met some real freaks.

One wanted to meet me at a hotel. I’d gone to an all girls high school, so I had very limited experience dating. (Parents, consider this a warning: if you send your daughter to an all girls high school, she may learn about dating from men who are older, more experienced, and less inclined to cop a feel, and more inclined to get into her pants.) I remember thinking that maybe he wanted to meet there because they had a nice restaurant.

I can hear you laughing now.

Yes, I went. It was an Amerisuites. AN AMERISUITES. Honestly. No restaurant, but I didn’t know that until I got there. (Silly me.) My internal alarms went off, and after he asked me up to his room, I left.

There was another guy who took me to dinner. He was ten years older than he’d led me to believe, and probably twenty years older than I was. Dinner was nice; he owned his own company (a web design firm — very forward thinking back in 1998), and treated me well. He paid. When we were walking back to the parking lot, he kept asking if I wanted to see his truck. I almost went.

Then he joked that he kept a sledgehammer under the front seat.

I ran. Seriously. I ran.

They weren’t all creepy. I dated this one guy for a few weeks. He’d been charming online. He was a grad student at University of Maryland. I didn’t break it off with him until I found him sitting in his car outside my apartment one night, waiting for me because I hadn’t answered my phone.

Oh, wait. That one was creepy, too.

This other guy came to meet me, talked for three minutes, and said, “You know, I really gotta go.” And he left. That was that. Subtle, right?

One guy talked to me on the phone for weeks. We never met in person because he couldn’t get it together to ask me out. He’d call me and start conversations like this: “So, I’m really not doing anything tonight.” I’d respond, “Oh yeah? I don’t have any plans either.” And then he’d say, “Well…I guess I’m just going to sit here and watch old eighties movies.”

He’s probably still doing that.

I met one guy at a bar after chatting online. He owned his own home in downtown Baltimore, had a good job, and was perfectly nice, funny, all good things. Blond. Blue eyes. Charming. When he asked me back to his place, I went. Beautiful home. He showed me the rooftop deck and we looked out across the harbor. Then he sat in one of the deck chairs, one of those Adirondack chairs that’s good for sprawling, and leaned back. He said, “You know what I’d really like?”

At this point, I was practically naming our children (the date had gone that well). His blue eyes were sparkling, the stars overhead were shining. After his perfect behavior all evening, I expected something charming, like, “To go out with you again,” or, “For this night to never end.”

I turned around, leaned against the deck railing, and said, “No. What would you like?”

You can guess what he asked for.

I never saw him again.

By the way, if you want to talk dating stories (or books), I’ll be at RWA starting tomorrow, and I’ll be signing at the Readers for Literacy event at the Anaheim Convention Center, starting at 5pm. You can find me at table 604! You don’t have to be attending RWA to come to the signing. Come on out! 

8 thoughts on “My days as an internet dating pioneer.

  1. Wow, that was…wow. Well thanks for bringing us up to date on your internet dating life as a pioneer.

    I was in the middle of commenting, ran of somewhere and am now back. I was coming round the corner when all of a sudden my sister walked down the hall and scared me. I of course, thought it was one of your creepy dating guys. I therefore jumped… haha :O

  2. This was equal parts hilarious and frightening. 🙂 Actually, my brother met his wife (now of 12 years) in a chat room. I can still remember when she visited him for the first time and the hard time I was giving him about what she “really” looked like. (He’d only seen her in a couple of photos.)

    My sister-in-law met her second husband (way better than #1 idiot, btw) on Match.com. I just think it’s the way things are now. Wife and I have talked about if, God forbid, anything happen to one or the other of us that we’d probably turn to eDating. My best bar hopping days are behind me (going to bed before 11 kind of kills that I’ve found), I’m not going back to school any time soon, and I’m not a hit-on-strangers kind of guy. So I’m not sure where else I could go to meet people. 🙂

  3. I am now past the expiration date for any man to be willing to look at me online or otherwise, but I tried internet dating for awhile. I don’t have any stories to top yours, but there was one guy– quite nice, pleasant. We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. I wasn’t instantly in love, but I was thinking that it might be nice to see him again. Then I asked him where he worked. It was for one of the companies owned by the infamous Kingston Clan.
    Now, if you’re not from Utah, you probably haven’t heard of the Kingston Clan, so let me give you a couple of links so you can understand why I never contacted the guy again.
    http://www.rickross.com/reference/polygamy/polygamy25.html
    http://www.childpro.org/1998%20medai/1998%20media%2004.htm
    http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/inside-the-order-one-mormon-cults-secret-empire-20110615

    The Kingston Clan makes Warren Jeffs look mild by comparison. They’re Utah’s own little polygamist/incestuous mafia. Charming.

  4. Oh goodness… *coughpluttercough* *sprays mac and cheese all over computer*
    I don’t know what we’re going to do if you ever run out of dating stories, but OH MY WORD THEY’RE BRILLIANT. I can’t even say how glad I am you posted this 😀

    I met Nick when I was sixteen, a couple of months before my seventeenth birthday, and we’ve been together for oh… 11-12 years now? I have NO interesting stories. I choose to live vicariously through you 😀

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