Online dating threw me an unexpected curveball: my career.
As a professional writer, I gave men an easy topic to make conversation about in their initial flirtacious emails: "Where do you work? What do you write about?" The problem is, these men already knew my first name was Jessica; I knew that as soon as I gave them any other clue about my work, they'd be off and Googling. That's certainly what I did to a fellow JDating journalist who worked at a major entertainment magazine told me he once interviewed Blake Lively: it took three seconds to figure out his real identity.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm not ashamed of anything I've written and I don't feel I have anything to hide. I simply think when you're meeting a guy, you may not want him to be reading this first. That's a third-date topic, I think.
This week's "Modern Love" essay in the New York Times tackles the same problem. Author Joanna Pearson performed a search engine background check on a fellow she met at a party and quickly regrets it. Not only does that bleach the fun out of getting to know her date, but she learns he's much older, better-educated and runs less than a four-minute mile:
My memory and confidence were both officially shot. Did he tell me his undergraduate G.P.A., or did Google? Was his sailing trip part of our conversation or detailed in one of the business columns by him I had read? Everything swirled together. It was impossible to tell.
Their date ends badly, mostly bcause Pearson awkwardly struggles to be authentically impressed by each detail her dinner partner shares. Now she warns all her friends from pre-date Googling!
As for my own conundrum, it only reached a detente when I went out with a fellow journalist. As a newspaper reporter, he understood we both had our bylines all over the Internet and it didn't seem fair to get to know each other online before we'd even met in person. It's a deal, we agreed, no Googling. Whew!
Not that that stopped me from doing it anyway, of course...