The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 14 - 11/30/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Finding "Love" on the Internet
Editor's Note: The subject of this story is a local man who has dated women he's met over the Internet. He agreed to my interview, but only on the condition that I not use his real name. For the purposes of this story, we'll call him "John Doe."
"You can know a lot about a woman after meeting her on the Internet," says John. "A lot more than if you met her at the bar or Laundromat." People are much more honest and open about their personal lives when online, he claims. Women will willingly answer frank personal and even sexual questions "that would get the s-- slapped out of you," if you asked in real life, he says.
John never got on the Internet intending to use his computer as a tool to meet women. Rather, he was introduced to a website where he could play one of his favorite card games interactively with people all over the United States and the world. The program is set up so not only can he sit at a virtual table and play cards with three other people through his computer, but also, using his keyboard, he can talk to the players at the same time.
When he was just getting started, the other players quickly recognized John as a "newbie" by the way he talked through his computer. "It's obvious if you're a newbie," he continues. You do or write stupid things that betray your ignorance.
One of the people John was playing cards with introduced him to a website and program called ICQ, which is short for "I seek you." ICQ is a program that allows two or more people to have a private conversation online.
As John continued to play cards online, he began to get to know some of the other players, and in time, some of the women. Soon, he and a lady would stop playing cards, and jump over to ICQ, to have a private conversation. This was a significant step in establishing a relationship that would lead to a face-to-face meeting and a physical date.
After talking online using ICQ, John says the next significant step is to exchange addresses and phone numbers. Then the conversation moves from the computer to the telephone. This is a very important step. John says that one of the women he was considering meeting, "Had the voice of a man ... That low gruff voice that just turns you off." He didn't pursue the meeting.
If things work out after they talk on the telephone and exchange photographs, a physical meeting is arranged.
"She Wanted an Affair"
The first woman John met online, and actually had a physical date with was a married woman who was disgusted with her husband. John had met her playing cards three months prior to their physical date.
This lady was from back east, and John said that when the two agreed to meet, they only had one ground rule. "The only requirement we had when we met is that we had to hug each other. If there was any spark involved, it would develop from there."
"She wanted an affair," says John frankly of this first lady. They met at a motel room, and she drove up in a red Trans Am, "without a scratch." He describes her as a "very beautiful lady," and says, "It was a fun weekend and we enjoyed each other, but there was nothing further."
The second woman John met online and became fairly serious with was a lady from New Orleans. "I liked her the best," he says, describing her as "really neat, low key and appreciative." After meeting playing cards and talking on ICQ, the two exchanged phone calls, presents, and lots of emails.
"Then one day she told me over the Internet that she had a problem with her back." John and this lady were talking on the phone daily at this point, and relationship seemed to be headed for a physical meeting. But soon after, the lady from New Orleans told John she'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer, had sold her house and was moving in with her brother to save money. The doctors had started chemotherapy, and given her 6 weeks to a year and a half to live.
"I'm going to cut you loose whether you like it or not," she wrote John. "Please go on with your life."
"She wanted total control!"
The third lady John's been fairly serious about after meeting her on the Internet actually came to Pinedale. He describes her as a "younger gal, a professional person with a real good job." Things were going well and he was excited for their meeting until he saw her step off the airplane.
John explains that the two had agreed to exchange photographs before meeting. The first one this lady sent was a picture from the shoulder up. He asked for a full body photograph. She sent one, but in it she was seated in a swing and had a young child on her lap. John didn't think anything of it until he saw her in person.
She was heavyset, with a pear-shaped figure. "I wasn't impressed," said John, who felt he'd been deceived.
But he went ahead and followed through with the meeting. He brought the lady to his home in Pinedale and entertained her for a week. But it wasn't pleasant. "She wanted total control!" John says with a nervous laugh.
After she left, John wrote her a nice letter telling her that their chemistry "just didn't click." She continued to pursue him for a while, ultimately becoming quite an annoyance. "They're easy to get," he says. "It's harder to get rid of 'em!"
"If they don't like it, tough?"
"Pinedale is the hardest place in the world to meet women!" John begins before proclaiming the virtues and advantages of meeting women online.
The first advantage is that there are a lot more single women surfing in cyberspace than there are walking around in Pinedale. "Where do you meet women around here?" he asks. "At the bar? At the Laundromat? At the grocery store? Everyone within two aisles will overhear your conversation! It's a problem."
Not only is meeting women easier online, John says moving on to the next one is easier too. "If something doesn't click, or there's something you don't like, all it takes is one click of the mouse button to delete them, get rid of them... The way I look at it is every time I delete one it's one down, a million more to go!"
Secondly, John reiterates that meeting people online can lead to a much more honest beginning to a relationship. He's found that it takes about three months of communication to become comfortable enough with a woman to want to meet her in person. "You can do a lot of research on each other," he says, "and get a lot of information on someone you're meeting before meeting them."
John actually takes notes on the women he's interested in to track their answers to questions for consistency. He says "A truth will always be the same, but a lie will change." For example, if the lady says she works in real estate in the first month, but by the second month has become a nurse, she's not being honest. "If they're lying to you, over a period of three months, it will show up," he's learned.
While not only being more honest, John says the level of communication is much deeper because people will ask and answer much more personal questions over the Internet then they will in person. "I'm more willing to ask the question since I've been on the Internet," he explains, "If they don't like it, tough." If he asked the same questions in real life, "I'd either get slapped or sued or maybe both!"
Meeting women over the Internet has also made John much more open. He's had to be, because the women he meets, "ask questions back."
"Because of the Internet, I've been able to open up," says John. "I used to take offense at stuff I don't now." John says he never would have been able to sit for this interview four years ago.
I asked him if it was awkward meeting the ladies in person. "No," he replied immediately, "It is so much nicer. You've already covered three-fourths the bases ... There's no secrets."
Further, John's convinced meeting women over the Internet is safer than the traditional way. "You don't have to go to bed with someone first," before learning very personal things about them.
"You've got to respect it."
"I've had some pretty cool guys who've hit on me under women's names," begins John, pointing to one of the most obvious dangers of finding dates on the Internet. While hiding behind the computer screen on one hand can allow you to be more open with others, it can also allow you to be someone you're not. "There's a lot of weirdoes," John warns, bluntly.
For this reason, you have to be careful and "respect" the Internet. He says that if you give two truths about yourself, such as your last name and your zip code, people can use the Internet to find out almost anything about you. "Never use your own name," he warns.
Once John had a hacker "harass the hell out of me." This person stole e-mail messages John had sent, and sent him hate e-mail messages. John began to keep track and take notes and soon the hacker betrayed his own identity. John warned him to stop the harassment, and when he didn't, Mr. Doe called him up on the telephone to warn him more 'forcefully' in person. It worked.
"People don't need to be afraid of this stuff," says John. "You've got to respect it."
It's because of the deception and the weirdoes that John avoids singles chatroom websites, which he describes as "the poorest ways to meet people," online. He feels that meeting them while playing cards is much safer, plus by keeping track of how they play cards, he can learn a little about their personality and character before moving on to romance.
Finally, John warns that online dating can be an emotional minefield. "Ninety-five percent of it is fantasy land," he cautions, "just 5% of it is something that could turn into something real for you."
He continues, "You can get so involved with your emotions it can ruin your life. I've been there." People need to use caution and common sense. "It's called a 'personal computer' ... It gets so extreme you can live your life through your computer, and when it falls through, it can ruin your life."
After the interview, we go to John's office and he fires up his computer to show me first hand how the game works. He quickly surfs to his card game website, and "sits" down at a virtual table with three other players. He uses the nickname "Tomcat" for this session. ("I have lots of nicknames," explains John. "The one I use reflects my attitude that day.")
While simultaneously playing cards, John immediately begins flirting. "Calling all felines at table 66," he writes, followed quickly by, "Free corsages for the ladies at table 66." Laughing, John turns to me and says, "I usually end up with a bunch of queers here when I say that."
Soon, one of John's frequent card-playing buddies sits down at his table. John describes "Wrangler" as one of the neatest people he's met online, and a damn good card player. He writes hello to Wrangler and the two shoot the bull while playing cards.
In just a few minutes, "Sharon" sits down at John's table, joining him and Wrangler. John begins flirting immediately.
Tomcat: Sharon, I'm looking for single women today. Are you available?
Sharon: Not single. Sorry :))
Tomcat: But are you available?
Sharon: I see you're on the prowl today!
Turning to me, John smiles, his eyes sparkling. "You see, it can totally take over your life!"
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