Online dating -- once thought to be a fad -- is emerging as the most popular way for singles to meet in the United States. Not only are they forming relationships online, some are also talking about their experiences in cyberspace for the whole world to read. It's a new kind of literature called the dating blog or online Web log.
Melanie Boyer, 29, writes for the online dating site known as Matches. She writes - sometimes in graphic language -- about her adventures meeting men online.
"I have a storehouse of experiences, so this is something that I can write about.," she says. "It still makes me a little [nervous] -- I cringe a little bit. I hold my breath and think, 'My mother is going to read this.' And then I let it all out and then I just breathe and say, 'Okay, be brave.' The success of a genre like this, of a column like this, is having no filters, no fear. For me, I'm telling a real story. It's very raw, very real, and it's the human experience, and I think that's what hooks you.
Like the time, after a date, that the fellow she was out with offered to give her a ride to her car. Boyer says she was thinking, "What's going on?"
"In my head, I was already chronicling it for the blog because I found it be so hilarious -- because here we are: I'm 29. He's in his 30s. And we're still pulling these high school [-age] moves to be alone with each other," she recalls. "We're still [saying], 'Hey, why don't we go to my car?' which is what you did when you were 15, and there was nowhere else to go. So the irony of it all was too good to pass up, too good to not share with the world."
So what happened when she got in his car?
"He only turns the car key halfway, so just the stereo comes on and only the lights from the dashboard come on," Boyer says. "He's trying to make conversation with me about [the musician] 'Sting.' He's playing a 'Sting' CD on the radio. And then he put his seat belt on, which I thought was even funnier because we both knew what we were there for. I thought, 'What is he doing?' Is he trying to pretend that we're not here to [kiss] in the front seat of the car.' Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he was going to drive me to my car."
To make a long story short, he kissed her with his seat belt on. So in Melanie Boyer's world, every date can lead to a blog. She does ask her date's approval, given the fact that the whole world can follow her adventures.
"I warn the guys who I go out with, because I figure it's only fair that they know that anything [embarrassing] they do can be used against them on the World Wide Web for everyone to read," Boyer says. "I don't use names but it's a little weird to read about yourself even if you're prepared for it. I also tell them they have veto power [to kill the story]: they read it before it goes up. "
Boyer recalls one of her dates exercised his veto power very clearly. "He said, 'Tell me you're not going out with me just as a writing experiment.' I never heard from him again."
Melanie Boyer says the truth is she doesn't go out with guys just to gather good writing material. She wants to meet men and feels compelled to write about her experiences, which she admits can sometimes be like leading a double life.
"It is hard. I don't know what's the perfect medium: 'Am I having a real date? Am I not having a real date? Am I genuine and sincere? Is he genuine and sincere?'" she asks and admits, "I don't know, but there comes a time when I turn it off [stop thinking about writing a story about the date].
Melanie Boyer's dating blogs are a lot of things: sad, funny, sexy real-life stories. If or when she gets married, Boyer says the days of her sharing her love life online will be over, not just because she won't be dating anymore. As she puts it, she'll want to keep the man she loves for herself.