Forks and Spoons: Web dating leaves too many entanglements

I had a new crush, and I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.

This crush was the type of person I’d been hoping to meet. Charming, humble and, of course, not too hard on the eyes. With only one date set up, I told myself I would hold back.

I tell myself this a lot. It often ends the same way.

I told the first person I saw.

The conversation was going smoothly.

I told my friend about the great laughs we’d already had, how the clever quips we threw back and forth brought us closer together in that perfectly unspoken way and the way our families had similar histories.

Then, upon the crucial question, the conversation turned.

“How did you meet?”

I looked at my shoes.

“Oh, um…”

“What? Was it on the Internet or something?”

I noticed one lace looked like it was tied better than the other.

“It was!”

“Yeah, but it’s not one of one of those Internet relationships,” I said, finding myself having to defend the blossoming friendship for the first time. “We’re meeting in real life. We’re going to have good chemistry. We already do.”

The conversation became notably more awkward after that point, with me pondering how harshly my friend was judging me, and my friend probably holding back all the one-liners that would have given the otherwise boring night a subject about which to muse.

The date wasn’t for another week, so I had plenty of time to reflect on whether it was possible to interpret the chemistry I had defended so steadfastly from words and pictures on a screen that don’t move.

Before I said it out loud, I hadn’t thought it was such a bad thing.

Thanks to AIM and MySpace, we were able to talk well enough to get to know each other.

If it weren’t for the wonders of that Livejournal user community to which we shared a membership, we probably wouldn’t have ever met in real life.

Of course, I’d like to think we would have, but the chances of me ending up talking to the person in the room whom I actually have a crush on are slimmer than, well, you know, Lindsay Lohan or something. I struggled with that for a long time, and when my Internet pal called to meet up, I almost didn’t go.

I don’t have many friends with whom I talk about these types of things, but the fact that we would have to end up justifying the whole relationship to our friends, acquaintances and, eventually, parents, made me feel more awkward than I would if I had met this crush at a party.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. The Internet was supposed to alleviate the tension.

As far as social entanglements go, the Internet will take some getting used to.

From one angle, we’re incredibly willing to rely on it for all of our social needs.

We find out where the happening places are, we reminisce through pictures that we post and, perhaps best of all, we can talk to each other without making the effort of leaving our room.

But, a stigma still exists, especially in dating.

The idea that you might meet someone without actually seeing the subtle way they twirl their hair and look at their shoes when they laugh, or talk to them to find out if you ever let them finish a sentence was kind of frightening when I took the time to step back and think about it.

But at the time, it seemed like such a good shortcut. Here was someone I knew I connected with immediately. After all, I’d looked at their MySpace profile!

I knew exactly what to talk about with them, and there were no awkward silences during which we were forced to wonder if they were trying to find a way to end the conversation, or just so intimidated by each other’s looks that we didn’t know what to say next.

Still, we hadn’t met, and the barrier was starting to become more noticeable.

Not being able to see their mannerisms, or even the way they dressed from day to day, only added uncertainty to a pastime that is already loaded with cold feet and longing.

I went through a whole litany of reasons why I shouldn’t have met up with my Internet pal. But after a while, I realized I didn’t care.

That while was after we met.

They were wonderful, and we ended up dating. We even lied to our parents about where we’d met because, we agreed, the secret was worth keeping.

But after a while of getting to know each other’s physical selves, we hit a barrier of a different kind.

Every time we needed to take stock of the relationship itself, we were at a loss for words. We would lie in my bed, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the other to say what we were probably both thinking.

I thought it was typical. No one ever knows what to say.

But just like it had originally changed our luck in dating, the Internet changed all that again.

This state – sitting next to each other and functioning like something close to human – wasn’t where the connection between us originated.

When we both couldn’t stand it anymore, one of our instant messages took a turn toward what it needed to for a long time.

By the end, we’d broken up.

I tried to call, but there we were again.

Silence. Everything was already said.

As I moved on and dealt with the very real emotions of an ended relationship, it became apparent that the tangled Web that had brought us together was now creating all the space between us.

– Contributed by a member of The News staff.

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