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One mans brave experiment in online dating

In the Internet-dating dance, the entire arc of a relationship—from instant crush to heartbreaking split—can occur within hours via a flurry of e-mails and IMs. Among the hazards is that you never quite know whom you're communicating with. Among the benefits is that you can diplomatically get out while the getting is good.

Dear asteroidsacredcastle:
Thanks so much for your e-mail. You seem like an extraordinary person. Having had some experience with the "UFO community," as you describe your circle of friends, I just don't think I'm ready for a relationship with someone who's actually spent so much time inside a UFO. I'll bet there are others on this site who've shared your experiences, and I wish you luck in finding one!

Dear heartmindmeldwantsU:
Thanks for the kind words. I've enjoyed our exchanges about forgiveness, and while I too have forgiven my parents for their imperfections, I don't think I'm ready to forgive Hitler quite yet. If that changes, I'll be sure to let you know.

Dear chinachick4life:
I appreciate your inquiry, and I'm glad you find my picture "very much to be OK I like to see." But since we've never met and don't know each other at all, I'm afraid I can't commit to paying your airfare from Beijing and then getting married so quickly. Good luck finding someone who will help you realize your dream!

Dear 2good2b4got10:
I appreciate you following up our conversation with all those photos of your youthful activities, and I apologize for asking if the pictures were current. But although I respect your opinion that "everyone lies about their age," my first thought was that you meant you'd fudged by maybe a year or two. So while I'm afraid we're not a match, I'll bet you can find a guy who also says he's 35 but is really 60. . . .

Dear sizzlesubstance697856045789:
Thanks for writing. It's always nice to hear from someone new. I'm sorry you're so angry that I haven't responded to your three early-morning (6 a.m.!) messages till now. And believe me, I've had enough therapy to understand that you don't want to be late for your shrink appointment. But I'm not sure what you mean by needing "closure to our relationship."

Dear imsunshine:
Thanks SO MUCH for your extensive series of e-mails! I haven't responded because I've been out of town!! I'm so glad you like music and that you are as comfortable in an evening gown as you are in jeans and a T-shirt!!! The idea that you like to read magazines while getting your hair done tells me you're an impressive multitasker!!!! The fact that you spend time outdoors is really cool!!!!! And I just love all those exclamation points you put at the end—and sometimes! in the middle! of—every sentence!!!!!! But I need to tell you that I recently met the girl of my dreams. She can't match your enthusiasm, but her punctuation is an enormous relief.

Dear athleticfanatic90210:
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE sports, and staying in shape is important to me too. (I once ran a charity 10K organized by Bono—or maybe it was Sonny Bono—and let me tell you, it was tough but exciting.) When I read your "Favorites" list, I wasn't even sure what an ultra-marathon was, so I Googled it. Wow! How much do you have to train to run 50 miles and how many hours does it take to go that far? Anyway, even though we're not a match, I hope you weren't offended by my use of the phrase "obsessive/compulsive." Also, I didn't mean to imply that you're anorexic. I think it's great that you avoid meat, fats, sugar, dairy products, wheat and anything cooked. (You must scarf down a ton of raw legumes!) And who am I to say that 88 pounds on a 5-foot-3 frame is underweight?

Dear sublimepsychicdoc:
So fun reading about your out-of-body adventures. As you said, it's really important for us to be open to the varieties of experience. So I tried to understand how you were able to heal your friend's grapefruit-sized tumor over the phone via "energy waves." And even though your sight-unseen description of my living room bore no resemblance whatever to my actual furniture, I still wanted to believe. But I think I'm going to respectfully decline your invitation to demonstrate that you can make "a certain Doris Day movie" come on the Lifetime Channel just by thinking about it.

Dear suddenlyseparated2006:
Okay, I'll take the blame for not reading your profile carefully enough, but at 3,000 words it is way longer than most. In any case, your being separated and having kids would normally not be a deal-breaker. But I wish you'd revealed earlier that you have FIVE strapping teenage boys (congrats, by the way, on the twins' football scholarships!), that your separation just happened last week and that your husband is stalking you. I know you think I'm scared of commitment, but the truth is I'm just plain scared.

Michael Sigman, the founding publisher ofOC Weekly, publishes music when he's not dating online.

 
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