Dating in the Digital Age

Dating in the Digital Age
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 19, 2009

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In the days of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Skype, technology has definitely impacted relationships (for better and worse). ESSENCE.com has your go-to guide to Dating in the Digital Age so love’s wires don’t get crossed.

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According to the New York Times, Blackpeoplemeet.com experienced a membership increase of 18 percent between January 2008 and January 2009 and Match.com had a 40 percent increase among women for the final quarter of 2008. The taboo of online dating is slowly slipping, and in these busy times, having millions of eligible bachelors at your fingertips is definitely worth looking into. Give fun sites like Zoosk, OkCupid and PlentyOfFish a chance, and sell yourself with an upbeat profile and winning photo.

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Kerri Baldwin, a 33-year-old single mom from Maryland, has had recent success on the digital dating scene.

“My boyfriend and I met on Facebook in October 2008 and chatted for three weeks before we exchanged phone numbers. We eventually realized that we graduated from the same college and shared many mutual friends. After a month or so, we began talking on the phone while still e-mailing and chatting on Facebook. We saw each other for the first time on New Year’s Day 2009. We fell head over heels in love! So much that I just relocated to Maryland from Atlanta to integrate our lives.”

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Keep these important tips from Baldwin in mind when navigating your own computer courting:

Do Your Homework. I did a Google search on my boyfriend before we actually met. I also contacted our mutual friends and asked rather pertinent questions about him.

Process of Elimination. We laid it all on the line in the beginning: short- and long-term goals, likes, dislikes, family and finances. Everyone who is looking to settle down should have such a conversation in the very beginning.

Keep Hope Alive. We are very much in love after eight months of knowing one another. I’m so grateful to Facebook for meeting the man of dreams only to realize we were never that far apart to begin with.

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Text messages have certainly expanded the places one can communicate (we saw you confirming brunch in church), but for more important conversations like breaking up or deciding to move in together, turn the PDAs off.

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OMG, texting is so fun and makes you LOL, but tech shorthand isn’t always appropriate. Feel the new guy out before you overload on shorthand and smiley faces, and remember to treat professional correspondences with the utmost care. We all have witnessed what can happen when certain images and/or messages end up in the wrong hands. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, anyone?

For more on texting etiquette, pick up “Textual Intercourse: Dating & Relating in a Cellular World” (Running Press) by Laura Saba.

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High on the emotion of love, you might be tempted to create social network accounts with your boo or share account information. Avoid the temptation and keep your profiles separate and log-in information private to minimize possible issues down the road. Discuss changing your Facebook status with your beau before linking him, and remember the more information you add, the more you may have to delete if things don’t work out.

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Neenah Pickett, a 40-something New Jersey woman launched her Web site, 52weeks2findhim.com, as part of her New Year’s resolution in January 2009. Pickett has vowed to meet her husband by the end of the year.

“I always come up with crazy, wacky and fun ideas because I work as a media consultant. During a dry time of guys asking me out, I came up with the idea.”

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Remember your Twitter, Facebook and public blog are not your diary. Try not to reveal too much information concerning your personal life and consider changing names if mentioning dates. Anything you would not want your new and old guy seeing, it’s probably best not to post.

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Just because your BlackBerry allows you to get e-mails from the job immediately doesn’t mean you should constantly check them on a first date or while your potential beau is reminiscing with you about his favorite childhood memories. Stay in the moment and only address emergency correspondence during quality time with loved ones.

Share your own experiences with us of dating in the digital age.

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Keep these important tips from Baldwin in mind when navigating your own computer courting:

Do Your Homework I did a Google search on my boyfriend before we actually met. I also contacted our mutual friends and asked rather pertinent questions about him.

Process of Elimination We laid it all on the line in the beginning: short and long term goals, likes, dislikes, family and finances. Everyone who is looking to settle down should have such a conversation in the very beginning.

Keep Hope Alive We are very much in love after eight months of knowing one another. I’m so grateful to Facebook for meeting the man of dreams only to realize we were never that far apart to begin with.

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