Mom’s Rules for Online Dating

January 17th, 2013

I’m still not sure quite what to say about this whole Manti Te’o episode.  He’s the much heralded Notre Dame linebacker and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy who gained a lot of notoriety this past season not only for his prowess as a football player but for the tragic deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend during the season.

The bad news is that Te’o’s grandmother is still dead.

The good news is that his girlfriend isn’t dead, but that’s not because she’s alive either.  Seems she never existed in the first place.

According to Te’o, he was duped in an elaborate hoax into believing she was real.  If that’s true, I feel sorry for him on several levels.  What a rollercoaster.  First, he falls in love, then she dies, then she’s back, but she’s not because she never was.  What a mess.

I haven’t dated in a long time, so I may not be the best person to ask advice.  I’d ask my husband, but I presume he hasn’t dated in a while either, and if he has . . . well . . . if that’s the case, that’s for another blog.

Dating has definitely changed since the days I went out.  In fact, that’s how long it’s been.  I used to “go out” and we called it dating.  With the internet, I guess you can stay in your pajamas, rarely shower, and date up a storm.  Wow . . . what a difference a couple of decades makes.

I do have a teenage son, however, so I feel compelled to get up to speed on this whole new online dating trend.  After conducting brief research and a couple of uncomfortable interviews with teenagers in my family, I’ve come up with a few rules for online dating.

Here they are:

(1)   Do not refer to anyone as your girlfriend until you’ve physically met them first.  Clearly, this is where Te’o went wrong.  Sadly, he got in a little deeper by mourning this imaginary person’s “death” on national television.  Arranging and confirming the actual existence of this person would have eliminated this problem;

(2)  Be careful where you meet this online date.  Just as I would not like to hear that you met a girl in a bar, likewise I don’t want to discover that you met her playing online poker either;

(3)  Be respectful of your “date.” Do not text and tweet and email her at all hours of the day and night.  She has a life, too (as far as you know);

(4)  Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.  Let’s face it, until they come up with online marriage (which I suspect will be the next trend, but we’re not quite there yet), it does no good to make up things about yourself because presumably you’ll have to meet this person eventually and as much as it may lift your ego to have someone think your good looks will land you on the cover of GQ someday, you will be equally crushed if you finally meet her and the look on her face is reminiscent to that of  someone inspecting road kill; and

(5)  Be thoughtful.  Online dates surely appreciate an online card or emailed Amazon gift card as much as “actual” dates like receiving flowers.  (One helpful hint, though, if you actually send a physical gift to her, make sure delivery is signature required.  While this won’t guarantee that she’s not a fake, it’s at least one step towards authenticating her existence).

My final thought is more of a “tip” than a rule.  Try making the majority of your dates good old fashioned “real” dates.  While some of these meetings may be very awkward and painful, it’s the best way to know one way or the other if you’ve really met someone who’s right for you.


One Comment

  1. carey
    Posted Jan 18 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking some of the same things. Have you heard of the show Catfish on MTV? I hadnt till i was flipping throu the channels and ran across it. It an entire tv show about people who have been “dating” someone online for sometimes years and have never met or even met on skype and they always seem to be NOT what the other person thinks they are. Its always a guy talking to another guy that thinks he is talking to a beautiful super model girlfriend. “Dating”seems crazy these days.