lessons learned #1

Meet. Meet. Meet right away. Meet as soon as possible. Please meet. If you can’t, approximate meeting using the wonders of free technology available on the computer you clearly have. As a veteran (but not a graduate, so make of that what you will, grain of salt and all that) of online dating, I urge you with all my heart to meet. I know that people have amazing long-term long-distance internet relationships for years and they meet and it’s just perfect (I know about this because I googled it to see how possible it was). And I know that’s it’s really hard to believe that you could click with someone so completely on the phone and on email and IM and not click with them in person. But I am here to tell you that it is incredibly possible.

Serious Prospect #2 was a guy I talked with for six months online (on and off) and two months on the phone and then flew East to meet, with the singular nervous jitters of maybe this is really the last time I’ll ever have to meet someone I might marry. I have to backtrack and say that if there were worlds in which relationships were confined to the internet, ours would have been ideal. We talked all the time, and he was funny, and we were funny together, which is much harder to find than people think, and it felt good and it felt right and it felt easy. And it took me 10 seconds after getting off the plane to realize that it was a no-go. And I feel betrayed, a little bit, by the internet that tricked me into believing it was just like not-the-internet, but it’s not.

Emailing back and forth is great. But after the “forth”, don’t stick around for another “back”. Just meet. Because no matter how awkward it is or how forward it is, the point of all of this is not to make a terrific internet friend. And stringing out meeting in person is wasting your time. This was hard for me to understand. I think I felt like emailing was building a foundation onto which in-person communication could be added. This is not real. This is not true. It’s a relationship. If anything other than in-person communication is the foundation, you are screwed. Email is a great set of hardwood floors or crown molding, and in many long-distance relationships, as essential as heat or central air. But you gotta have a house to heat and cool.

So my new rule is that I should feel good about communicating via two out of three of email/IM, phone, and in-person. But one of those MUST be in-person, and it MUST feel the best. Give up the pen-pal-ships and do please meet. Yesterday.


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sec·ond-gen·er·a·tion (sknd-jn-rshn)

adj. 1. Of or relating to a person or persons whose parents are immigrants.

n.b.: arranged marriage

When I use "arranged marriage" here, I'm talking a very specific type of marriage, in which one (often a second generation immigrant) is socialized and pressured by their community to marry someone from within that community as part of a way to bind two families together. It's often accompanied by a cultural prohibition against dating, especially serial dating, such that there is typically a short timeline from meeting to marriage. In the United States, where I am, and in other diasporas, an arranged marriage isn't necessarily arranged anymore, although parents and grandparents shoulder much of the responsibility in networking and making introductions. The bride-to-be and groom-to-be yield veto power at all times and their happiness and consent are among the most critical criteria in proceeding. In general, the kind of arranged marriage that I know is enforced only by family and community approval and disapproval (although let's not underestimate how powerful these are). At no point am I talking about a truly arranged marriage in which there's no options, no veto, and enforcement by violence or restriction of liberty. I don't pretend that I know anything about living that kind of truth or that anything I experience is comparable to that kind of future.

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