Corrections or additions?
This article by Diana Wolf was prepared for the January 10,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
D-A-T-E Doesn’t Have to be a Four Letter Word
New Year’s Resolutions to change your life and become
a better person usually mean starting over — including that
dating relationship. Whether your mate has cheated on you with your
best friend or has simply been uncouth enough to order white wine
with the beef, at the moment that the ball dropped you realized that
dumping your guy or girl is vital to your peace of mind.
So where can you go to find the courage and the words to house clean
your soul and say, "Get out of my life"? And then what?
To find an answer, you no longer need to wander self-consciously
the self help shelves of your neighborhood coffee-and-book store.
From the privacy of your own home (or office), you can seek comfort
and wisdom at your computer. Www.dating911.com is one of many
relationship websites a browser will display.
This is a website designed to help the desperate dater we all become
at some point in both our budding and long-term romances. The site
comes with a "Relationship Atlas" — a toolbar that
a little nibble of everything by bundling related articles together.
There are seven sections for those with specific areas of need:
Diaries, Basics, Playthings, Disasters, Community, and Concierge.
So how credible are these so-called "relationship experts"?
The term calls to mind miracle workers peddling love potions, or an
"Is He Right For You?" magazine quiz. Dating911’s
give credibility to relationship advice by blending subcategories
of professional medical advice with personal opinions. Dr. Tim, a
graduate of the UCLA medical school, answers questions in
regarding pregnancy, diseases, and nervous responses when speaking
to the opposite sex. "He Said, She Said," written by social
worker Gayle Greene and her husband, David, deals with more long-term
issues and couple interactions.
The site’s other "Experts" include clairvoyant Donna McCue,
author of the "Intuitive" column that highlights online palm
readings complete with a photo of the hand and a diagramed analysis.
The "Dating Diva" and "Single Guy" offer both female
and male perspectives on such topics as first dates, aphrodisiacs,
exes, and cat-calls. Hollywood Gossip from insider socialite
de Hollywood" follows the on-again, off-again love lives of the
stars. A wealth of information is learned by reading Today’s Question,
answering readers’ common concerns: How Do You Put On a Condom? Am
I a Nymphomaniac? I’m 23 and Ready To Lose My Virginity. How Do I
Get These Love Bites Off?
Are others going through the same things I am? The soap opera lives
of heterosexual and homosexual youth are found under the DIARIES
Diarists share their souls and other body parts as they relate their
dating mishaps and successes to a voyeuristic cyberpublic.
How do I meet and keep that perfect guy or girl?
describes BASICS as "Everything you ever wanted to know, but were
afraid to ask." This area teaches a step-by-step tutorial for
online dating, suggesting websites to find that perfect mate. If
unlucky in love, check out the Clueless Daters 12-Step Program, a
self explanatory examination of what you are probably doing wrong
and ways to make it right. The sexually explicit material is viewed
through a members-only registry that verifies that you are at least
18 years old. The registry also makes you eligible for contests and
So you thought you had it bad? After reading the real-life
horror stories and last-first-dates in the site’s "Disasters"
section, you’ll be dizzy with relief that you’re only reading about
"Community" offers an online chat board — no personal
ads here — with website articles and subsequent responses from
members sharing opinions, experiences, and advice. "Concierge"
is a mercantile hook that offers online tips for buying offline
in every price range. Here you’ll find holiday party planning tips,
book and movie reviews, music for all occasions, and travel advice.
An added bonus outlines what both males and females should expect
from that first date. The best suggestion here (and one that I second)
is that males get a manicure and clean their apartment, clothes, and
If you’re just looking for fun, the "Playthings" section is
home of the Fortune Cookie of Love, saving you the calories of Chinese
food while providing your fortune (in bed). You won’t risk a strained
wrist from shaking the site’s Magic D8 Ball; a click of your mouse
reveals your destiny to any question you ask of it. Bitter Magnetic
Poetry on the cyberfridge allows you to play with words and create
works of art from the provided phrases. Revenge is yours when you
submit your poetic emotional expression to the website’s best area,
"Bitter Poetry," where the rancor simply oozes.
"Bitter Poetry" also happens to be the favorite section of
Karen Fox, the 30-year-old editor-in-chief and co-founder of the
Her tax lawyer father and playwright mother divorced early in her
life and she says experiencing her parents dating positively affected
her own dating outlook. Fox has freely experimented with placing
ads and going to dating websites. Of the latter she notes: "It’s
as successful as any other form of meeting people, which, of course,
is not very." As single surfers know, any search engine will
dozens, even hundreds, of relationship or dating websites. Two other
comprehensive sites Fox recommends are www.breakupgirl.com and
A graduate of Amherst, Fox’s dual majors of physics
and English seem to have made her a natural to address the
of relationships with real world advice. "You can’t just say `dump
him’ because I’ve been the girl who couldn’t break up with the guy
I knew was bad for me," she says. "In modern days, you’ve
got to allow for a variety of complex relationships."
In dealing with relationships, Fox doesn’t beat around the bush.
starters, sorry, it’s you, it’s not them," she says. "So let’s
figure out what you’re doing wrong or what the bad habits are."
Dating911 began informally, three years ago, when Fox established
a personal website influenced by the popular self-help book of 1996,
"The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr.
Right" by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. After positive
on her own set of "rules," she collaborated with her business
partner to create Dating911 which was launched in December, 1999,
after approximately three months of personal time invested. Fox says
the purpose of Dating911 is to provide "informative, entertaining,
and modern dating and relationship advice for everything from the
single trying to get out there to how to keep the spark in your
Most importantly, Fox recalls the day in January last year when user
hits suddenly jumped from around 300 "to something like
Her website, she discovered, had been chosen as a "Cool Site of
the Day," and it has continued to grow and evolve. Among Fox’s
informal assistants is her father, who regularly reads the site and
offers feedback on its content to his daughter.
Does this advice work? Something must be working for Fox, currently
living in Virginia, a full-time freelance science writer along with
her Dating Diva crown, currently in a one-year-old relationship with
an old high school friend. Her advice for the forlorn? "You have
to have confidence both in being single as well as faith that this
does not mean you’re doomed to always be single. You need confidence
to enjoy it."
Can dating and fun ever coexist? This colorful site blends the hip
and the helpful into something it describes as "mouth-to-mouth
for your comatose love life." The writing is entertaining and
easy to read. And the most delicate topics are answered in a
positive tone. A lot of the advice is simply another’s opinion, so
you can take from it what you choose.
Is this the most helpful site out there? Is the advice accurate? What
makes this website stand out? The strength of Dating911 is offering
its readers a different perspective. It does not post personals, so
the task of finding the perfect mate is still up to you. With this
cyber-site as your motivational cheerleader, you can hope to achieve
some sense of control navigating the vast and "real" dating
wasteland. And that’s the best any of us can hope for. That, and a
date for Friday night.
— Diana Wolf
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