The Seven Stages of Internet Dating

by Barry Drogin

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1. Anonymous flirting
2. IM Chat

Getting real
3. Email Penpal
4. Ear-to-ear communication

5. Face-to-face first meeting
6. Public venue dating

7. Home visit

With apologies to Kübler-Ross, I concocted these "Seven Stages of Internet Dating." What follows is an explanation.

The first two stages, which I call Protected, one or both parties preserve their anonymity, hiding behind screennames and, at most, first names. The anonymous flirting occurs through whatever means the particular Internet dating site allows - winks, favorites lists, pre-scripted messages, and anonymous e-mail. These are all monologues, brief or long. This can expand into anonymous dialogue through the use of instant messaging.

In the next two stages, which I call Getting real, the anonymity is dropped. An e-mail address can reveal previous postings (Google has a very long memory). A telephone number can reveal an address. But there is, again, a necessary transition from monologue to dialogue.

The next two stages are actual Dating, from the first date, continuing to subsequent dates in public venues.

In the final stage, actual Trusting begins as all anonymity is dropped and the date is invited into one's home. This does not necessarily lead to a sexual encounter, and I don't mean to imply that this is the end of dating or the purpose of it, but certainly the relationship can no longer be called "Internet Dating" at that point. Whether an actual relationship develops is still up for grabs.

What is clear to me, however, is that the purpose of Internet Dating is to get to actual Dating and, eventually, to Trust. I can anonymously flirt with anyone. I can join a chat room, and I already have a long-distance IM chat buddy, a long-distance e-mail penpal, and a long-distance telephone friend I can talk to. These are all women, and we are not dating. So anyone who wants to stay in the Internet - spots are already filled, sorry. Interested in dating me? Contact info at the bottom of this page (You'll have to jump directly past "Protected," though).

(If you found this of interest, you may also enjoy "Personal Ad Don'ts (for women over 45)" and "Personal - Making the Private Public" - or maybe you've already been there, and are trapped in a loop. Sorry!)

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Last Updated: November 12, 2012