In the modern age, there are a preponderance of means to meet people online. EHarmony, Match.com, Christian dating sites, and just the overall need of people to use faceless anonymity to become an E-Couple. After you reach a certain age of singleness (over 25 in Evangelical circles), people start asking "have you tried EHarmony?" To which my desired response is "Why, no, have you considered eCounseling for your inability to stay out of people's personal lives?"
Let me be upfront and state that I don't think E-relationships are bad, and those begun on match.com or the like aren't bad, inherently. In fact, I've heard of some success through Yahoo! Personals or something similar. But for my money, the thought of connecting with someone I've never met, and no one I know has ever spoken to - or seen for that matter - is somewhat disturbing.
That said, I did have one or two experiences with "e-relationships" but not in a typical "I met him online" kind of date. One was a guy who was the brother of a good friend of mine. This fellow was interesting and appeared interested in lots of ways. He was good friends with several of my close friends and I liked that I could have input from them on his background, his integrity and character. We'd actually met when we were quite young, but didn't officially "MEET" until I was about 17. We got to know each other, however via AOL Instant Messenger and email. Oh email. I remember those days. I was so excited to get an email or to get "online" and see my "friend" and we'd chat late into the night about movies, music, and school. He was witty and I was quickly enamored. We emailed a couple of times a week, rather lengthy tomes that chronicled our days. After a year of this, Mr. Email and AIM Buddy became distant and unresponsive....with no explanation. Let's just say that the end of that "friendship" was not great. It amounted to Mr. Email going "Oh wait, I didn't mean for you to invest in this any deeper than surface -- even though after a year I poured my heart out to you and allowed you to do the same -- sorry you developed feelings for me. Nice knowin' ya"
Heh....well Mr. Email, at least he left with me a giant library of mp3's, some new music and movie loves and exposed me to Caedmon's Call, so it wasn't all bad. In spite of that, it did kind of leave me with a bad taste for e-relationships and such...at least initially.
I did sign up for E-Harmony once for a free 3 month trial. Let me say this -- I read this week that Christians should remove the word "Impossible" from their lingo because it's an indicator of a lack of faith in God - but let me tell you, my experience with E-Harmony makes me KNOW that it's impossible for me to find love there. Maybe I'm a skeptic, but everytime I would look at the guys asking for communication I was like...."Ok, what's your deal?" And inevitably, there was the deal-breaker. "Smokes, Has uncontrollable nose hair, eats small children for breakfast, wants someone who looks like a stick, plays video games in mom's basement for a living, thinks that GalaxyQuest might actually come true sometime in the near future, favorite movie is Beavis & Butthead take Manhattan, Wants to take me to an overnight cabin in the woods with his cousin Jim-bob and sister Ruby Jean." um...No. Skeptic? Probably so. Grounded in reality? Heck yes.
Look, I realize that at 31, Evangelicals think there must be a grotesque hidden deformity for me to still be single, pure, loving Jesus and all that jazz, but I also realize that when I join EHarmony, I'm flipping through profiles going... "Have Hades & Zeus made up yet?" Good gracious no.
Sure, Email can be a great source and tool for communication, but Pleeeease, can the object of said emails be normal? That's all I'm asking. Mr. Email did make me rethink the e-relationship paradigm, but the pitfalls of what is meant and what is inferred...well they still exist and are something I'm wading through still.
It's why, through all of the dating and e-relationships, personally I think Matthew 5:37 is a key principle - "let your yes be yes and let your no be no" -- Long, drawn out emails that pour yourself into another person - you're telling them something - that you want to invest in them and you desire them to invest in you. And guys, let me just say that Novel-length emails are NOT normal for guys to send to gal, and we know that. If you're doing it, you're telling us, "hey I think you're cool and this is more than causal friendship." Every guy I've ever dealt with via email or online communication who realizes that they've not protected the female heart I have that falls in love with bared hearts, they inevitably would say "I never meant for you to care for me more than a friend." Those kinds of statements make me want to scream.
A friend told me once that someone advised her "You will fall in love with the person whom you share your heart with." True. You share your heart, and they share their heart, one or both parties will fall for the other. If it's not the intention, walk away, say so up front. Be honest, say yes if you're interested and say no clearly if you're not. Don't murk up the water with maybes, ho-hums and blah blah blah excuses. What it ends up being is no longer an e-relationship but an e-loathing...and you wind up not even having a friend anymore. Sad day.
E-relationships can be good, I think, if the people are cautious to be honest & open with each other and themselves about their own feelings and the others' feelings. For my part, I know my weaknesses. I communicate them well and pray to Jesus that those who i entrust my heart's vulnerabilities won't wreck me by failing to follow Matthew 5:37 - I've had two strikes....I'm looking at the 3rd pitch right now and hoping this one doesn't set me on the bench permanently.