Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow.....

Computer Life column for February 14, 1998 by
Richard Gordon


This week, I was talking with a woman whose anonymous "handle" on the Match.Com dating service (www.match.com) was "Dharmagirl." She believes that "the Net can expand our community. It has the potential to expand how we humans relate to each other in very positive ways."

Dharmagirl ought to know: On June 6, she's scheduled to marry "Bassman," the man she met on Match.Com.

There are risks involved in looking for a mate anywhere. Therefore, services like Match.Com and Swoon (personals.swoon.com/e_personals/personals.html) plaster their Web sites with common-sense warnings about recognizing obvious lies, trusting one's instincts, guarding one's anonymity, setting up a safe first meeting, and dealing with unwanted pressure.

"We didn't exchange address information about each other until after we met," Bassman reported.

Bassman and Dharmagirl took their time meeting in person, getting to know each other in e-mail for several weeks before she finally took the train up from Baltimore.

"We hit it off right away in e-mail," Dharmagirl said. They discussed books, religious issues, art, plays, and music. And then he invited her to a dance concert. "I couldn't go, but I said to myself--'Oh, a boy who likes dance!'"

She contends that on-line services provide an excellent way for language-focused people to meet and "get to know how someone thinks. I hadn't been out in the bar scene for 15 years. This was just so cool to meet someone via ideas," she said.

Bassman is also a believer: "I'd never have found her any other way. And she is just the perfect person for me."

Another couple, John and Anne, prove that if you share the same interests and values, true love and e-mail can triumph, even if you're separated by the Atlantic Ocean.

"It had been years since I'd played bridge, but when I found the OKbridge server (www.okbridge.com), I thought I'd try again," Anne told me.

She played on-line for a while, but wanted to improve her game. "She posted a note asking for help re-learning and refining her bidding skills, and I responded," John said.

John was one of several people who offered to help her, "But some of them came across as full of themselves, and others were in time zones such that we would never be able to play at the same 'table,'" Anne said. So, she and John began logging into the server at the same time, becoming regular bridge partners on weekends and, during the week, at his lunch break in Liverpool and her breakfast time in Wilmington.

"I run a fairly chatty table," said John. "And we just sort of hit it off."

Anne said that she began noticing "uncanny similarities in our backgrounds." Something had happened. "I caught on first," Anne confided. "I was spending all my free time on the phone with or sending e-mail to or playing bridge with this man in England. It took John a bit longer to realize that we were falling in love without ever having met."

After ten months of multi-media contacts, John flew over for a visit. "We had exchanged enough e-mail and talked enough on the phone that we knew we'd be very good friends," said John. "But we didn't know if there'd be the physical attraction to be more than that."

"I was worried," remembered Anne. "I said to myself, 'I'm in love with a British programmer who's 10 years younger than I am. Is he really going to want me?'"

Anne's fears were unfounded: Based on how much fun they had together and on how much they missed each other after that visit, they planned another meeting.

"I flew to England that Christmas," Anne recalled. "By the time I flew home, we were discussing which of us would emigrate to the other's country when we got married."

They married four days after John arrived in America the following spring. "The immigration lads told me they see more couples like us every month," John said.

There are risks in meeting someone on-line. But these two couples got together because the Net expanded their community of friends.


Copyright © 1998, The News Journal Company

Computer Life Index

Richard Gordon helps support faculty, staff and student computing at the University of Delaware. E-mail him at richard@inet.net, or write him at The News Journal, Box 15505, Wilmington, DE 19850. This week marks the first anniversary of the Computer Life column. The author thanks his readers for their support, comments, and questions.