Internet Dating for Dummies

Old idioms such as "you're about as useless as a solar powered light bulb," should only be spoken by wise old men in the park.  Yet, this pointless phrase is among the many you might find in the new guide "Internet Dating: Find your Mate in 90 Days or Less," and one which could so cleverly be used to describe the book itself.

Aside from the excessive use of generic truisms and metaphors, authors David D. Abernathy and Naomi C. Ballard manage to transform the fun and exciting world of internet dating into an unappealing 13 week term project.  Abernathy and Ballard, two "trained and certified clinical sexologists," succeed in bringing to the public a book which at the bare minimum offers a list of available internet dating services and detailed examinations of three of them.  Beyond that, the two bring us a work which takes itself too seriously, undermines the intelligence of the reader (single dater), and is completely one-sided in promoting internet dating as the premier way to meet your love.

From the onset of Chapter 1, it is clear that Abernathy and Ballard implicitly assume quite a bit about the reader.  They assume that the reader is sad, lonely, out of shape, unfashionable, and has never interacted with members of the opposite sex before.  This is quite a bode of confidence from our clinical sexologists.

Hence, Abernathy and Ballard begin by introducing us pathetic singles to their successful philosophy on love, happiness, and finding a "potential life mate:" the ability to focus. For the rest of the book, we never forget these centers of focus; becoming more physically fit, paying attention to personal attractiveness, harnessing our spiritual energy, etc.  It becomes clear that "Internet Dating" is much more than a guide to internet dating, it is a guide to becoming a better human being.  And obviously, if we are single, we are neglecting some or all of these areas of focus.

And what better way to visualize our ability to focus than through hands-on exercises? While no one can deny that meeting one's true love is a noble and empowering journey, Abernathy and Ballard take the notions of love and companionship so seriously that their exercises just can not be taken seriously. 

In Chapter 2, the reader is instructed to write a "letter to their future life-mate."  Our sexologists begin for us, with the lines "I want to be everything you want me to be.  I want to please you and make you proud.  I want you to be excited when I walk into the room.  I make this promise to you.  I will not quit.  I will not give up.  I will find you."

Now I have never been too cool for school, but I just do not know how to end a letter which starts like this.  Between the overdramatic exercises and the lovely poems which intervene each chapter, it becomes evident that the authors are biting off a bit more than they can chew, for a book entitled "Internet Dating."

It is not until Chapter 5, that the authors get to the "heart" of the matter: actual information on internet dating.  Abernathy and Ballard analyze three of the most popular dating web sites, Match.com, Matchmaker.com, and Yahoo.com. They go into great detail about each, providing useful information concerning monthly fees, populations of users, and backgrounds of the companies.  

Great, now we are on the right track. Now it is only a matter of answering your profile questions which will translate your personality to the computer screen. But wait, Abernathy and Ballard even have this covered. Our two sexologists go over every profile question and propose how to answer it. They even devote an entire chapter to photographs, warning against pictures too close, too far away, with members of the opposite sex, with "busy" clothing, with kids, with pets, in the bedroom, or while in costume, i.e. the Unibomber on Halloween.

By the end of Chapter 15, Abernathy and Ballard have succeeded in answering every question which you did not want an answer for. Every area of human interaction which you thought you were competent in, you are not, according to Abernathy and Ballard. This includes: answering your own profile questions, making a phone call, ending a phone call, assessing how a phone call went, arranging a first date, deciding what to wear, ending a first date, understanding the ins and outs of intimacy, defining the notion of "tenderness," and so on.

There is even a section on alcohol and sex. "In the early stages of a relationship alcohol and sex do not mix. Even one glass of wine drunk on an empty stomach can significantly alter your thought process. Important matters such as safe sex and birth control can be ignored when the passion of the moment is ruling the action."

For a subject matter as personal and human as dating, it is almost as if this book were written by a duo of robots. They step over the line of what would actually be appropriate in a guide on internet dating and, in doing so, give no credit or support to the single reader.

Thus, if you are looking for information regarding different types of dating services, different qualities of different sites, how to set up accounts, how to be most effective as an online dater, and how to go about internet dating in a safe, fun, and exciting new manner, then keep looking. However, if you have been living in the woods since birth, "Internet Dating: Find Your Mate in 90 Days" just might be what you are looking for.

In these crazy times, only one thing is certain: love is in the air. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and the internet is bustling with hot singles in your neighborhood. So if you take away anything from our sexologists David D. Abernathy and Naomi C. Ballard, let it be this: "you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get to Prince Charming," but "every pot has its lid," so "reach out and touch someone."

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