Edge of Everywhere

Archive for January 2010

I generally find that people my age (post-college 20-somethings) meet new people in one of three ways: at work, through other friends, and through dating. The third often involves the internet. Thanks to Craigslist, asexuals have access our own version of online dating (other than the great-in-theory but not widely used asexual dating sites): the Strictly Platonic personals section. I have met a lot of people this way, and a couple of them (as well as other people I’ve met through them) are now among my closest friends.

I’ve put together a little FAQ on online friend-dating:

Q: How does it work?
A: You either make a post detailing what you are looking for in potential friends, or browse and reply to other people’s posts. You can search posts according to keywords, by gender, and by age.

Q: What kinds of friendships are people on there generally looking for?
A: Posts very widely, from requests as specific as “Does someone want to see Avatar on Saturday?” to searches for people with certain interests or living in specific neighborhoods, to elaborate treatises from people looking for their next best friend forever.

Q: What are the similarities to and differences from regular online dating?
A: In both cases, people are casting out a net to find a person or people who meet a perceived need in their lives. They may be looking for something general or specific, one-time or long-term. The platonic section has an emphasis on interests and activities without the dating section’s emphasis on looks, and I think posters are generally more likely to write back to everyone who writes to them because they’re not as focused on judging people’s attractiveness.

Q: What else should I know about contacting and being contacted by people through the site?
A: Create an anonymous email address to use for your initial correspondences with people from the site. If you make a post, don’t feel obligated to write back to everyone who responds if you get a weird vibe from them or they don’t provide sufficient information about themselves to warrant a response (e.g., “wanna chat?” or “We have a lot in common. Let’s meet up”). In responding to other people’s posts, I suggest writing a concise yet informative introduction in relation to the content of the specific post you are responding to. Take the time to give them an idea of who you are and why you think you would be compatible as friends. You can include a photo or link to your Facebook page if you want to, but shouldn’t feel obligated to do so.

Q: What should I know about meeting up with people through the site?
A: Different people have different expectations about how much contact they will have before making plans to meet. If you find someone who seems cool and compatible with you, you might choose to make immediate plans. If you feel more comfortable exchanging emails until you get to know someone a little bit first, that’s fine, too. Even though this is the platonic section, as with dating, it’s a good idea to arrange a meeting in a public place. Some people prefer sit-down, conversation-based meetings (over tea, drinks, etc.) and some prefer to share activities.

Next time, I will write more about the challenges and rewards of cultivating friendships initiated through the Internet.