The joys and woes of online dating


Socialising online can be both exciting and perilous. Arm yourself with some cyber street smarts for a good and safe experience!

Most of you who follow my column may know that I met my husband online. I can imagine the amused/incredulous looks on some of your faces (if you did not know). However, I am not surprised, for who has not heard of how people get their hearts broken/pockets emptied by someone they’ve met online?

And I married this guy? Am I nuts?

Firstly, I did not just marry him after three months of talking online and two dates. We were friends for over four years, on and offline, before we started seeing each other romantically. We even spent time with other people in between before hitting off. I guess that sort of “negates” the fact we met online – and that is exactly what

I’m writing about today.

Like it or hate it, socialising online is here to stay. For all practical purposes, it’s a more economical and feasible alternative to sitting around in bars with a RM20 drink in your hand, pretending to be having fun with your friends while you’re really waiting to meet someone “nice”. And then there’s the hope that a friend can play Cupid and find someone for you – a method I discovered is quite favourable among members of the Malaysian dating pool. Maybe it’s because this has within it an element of fate, sort of in between taking charge and leaving it to chance.

When it was new, going out with someone you met online through Internet Relay Chat or in some web chatroom was quite the rage. A decade down the road, claiming such a fact would earn you those “oh my god, you sad little closet-case” looks. Which is why, in my line, I have plenty of people telling me “I don’t go out with people I meet online!” – words spoken in the same tone of disgust as “I don’t eat pork!” (and since when did not eating pork – and not because one is Muslim – become cool?).

Why the stigma? Personally, I think going out with someone you met online isn’t as bad as going out with someone you met at a bar. Hell, if you’re going to date a stranger, a nice hour-long chat would be more useful than a night trying to get him to stop putting his hands anywhere simply because you’re in a dark place.

However, socialising online, as mentioned, has its perils as well, for which street-smart netizen (and well-read tabloid/Chinese newspapers fan) has not heard of the poor lonely woman who was conned of her hard-earned savings by some guy she met online? Still, you can just as soon be cheated even if you met the SOB in a library, but at least you can give the police a facial description.

So how do you guard yourself against such misfortunes? While I can’t give you any proven formulae, I do have one piece of advice that wisdom afforded to me through experience.

Understand that finding friends online is one thing, and looking for love is another. It takes much more than chatting and exchanging jpegs, because even if you merely want sex with the people you meet online, you need to be sure that this person won’t try to run away with your wallet or worse, murder you in your sleep. This sounds overdramatic but one cannot be too careful if one is to allow such proximity (which doesn’t necessarily mean intimacy).

Therefore, take everything you hear (or rather, read) with a pinch of salt until you’ve at least met the person five times or more, and have at least known for a year as a friend and nothing more. The important thing to remember here is never rush into anything because time is your friend when it comes to weeding out the bad guys.
After all, people you call your friends would stick around for a lifetime😉.

(READ JENNIFER TAI’S JOTS ON RELATIONSHIPS AND FIRST-TIME MOTHERHOOD IN “JENN’S JOTS” ON MSN.COM.MY’S WOMEN’S CHANNEL EVERY WEEK. SHE WELCOMES MAILS AT JENN@JENNEMEDE.COM AND DISCUSSIONS AT MSN.COM.MY’S WOMEN COMMUNITY BOARDS.)

 

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