Not Just For The Happy Couples At eHarmony
By Ben Hogwood
Internet can be an intimidating place for a single
First, there is the stigma that online dating
is reserved only for those who can't get a date
in the real world. Then, there is a stigma that
typing in "gay" or "lesbian" into a search engine
will transport your computer to the more sexually
graphic reaches of the electronic universe.
first rule of Internet dating, whether gay
or straight, is Be Careful.
But these are stigmas to overcome, as the Internet
doesn't have to be such a scary place. In fact,
with forums to meet people, chat rooms to come
out electronically before doing so in the real
world and sites that let you read how others came
out, the Internet can be an informative place.
While some dating sites, such as eHarmony, do
not cater to the LGBT populace, familiar sites
such as Match.com, Hotmail and Yahoo do. There
are also sites, such as gaysinglesonline.com,
that cater specifically to the community.
While the Internet has made it easier to meet
people, Ramon Johnson of About.com offers some
rules to make sure things go safely. First, take
things slowly while chatting with an online stranger
and ask many questions before committing to meet.
If you see warning signs or have a bad feeling
about the person, end the chat. Also, don't disclose
any personal information that a stranger could
use to take advantage of you, such as your address
or place of work.
It's also a good idea to leave a trail - the name
of the person you are to meet, the location, any
telephone numbers - should something happen on
your blind date. And prior to meeting the person,
get a photo and be sure to save it in an accessible
place on your computer. When you meet, pick a
mutually comfortable place to alleviate tension
and give you an out should you feel uncomfortable.
Meet in a public place with many people in the
area and, after the meeting, take a route other
than your normal path should the other person
attempt to follow you without your consent.
For those in the process of coming to terms with
their sexuality, the Internet may be a good place
to start; still the rule of thumb is "Be careful."
The Internet can offer a false sense of security,
so when revealing such information in a blog or
on a social networking site, people should be
careful it cannot be traced back to them. There
are many places online, such as emptyclosets.com,
where people can post on forums or talk in chat
rooms. There are also a variety of sites to read
stories of how others came out or share your own
story, such as outpath.com.
The Internet is there. Use wisely.