From Matched to Detached: Handling Electronic Break Ups

We'd had a wonderful exchange of emails. I was interested. He offered his phone number; I dialed... and then, as that baritone voiceover always says in overwrought adventure documentaries, something went horribly wrong. The guy with whom I'd been emailing was a computer professional in his mid-30s. But his job was part-time, he lived with his parents, and he was a college sophomore. Frankly, I haven't dated a college sophomore in more decades than I'd care to say.

We never met. I had to break up with him before our first date.

It's tricky business, this ducking out of a online dating connection midway through the hookup. Sure, at most online dating sites you can always just block the person, but unless you're dealing with a psycho-stalker, that's the coward's way out. Still, even the most diplomatically forthright among us will be stumped on occasion by some suitor who can't take a hint.

I remember receiving an initial email from one guy whose message and profile left no doubt that we were miles apart intellectually. Luck seemed with me, though. His profile offered a loophole: he was a smoker, and as I wrote in my reply, allergies prevent me from dating smokers. A nice face-saver, I thought -- until he wrote back to say that maybe if I became his girlfriend, I could inspire him to quit smoking. At that point, there was nothing to do but send a short "Sorry. Not interested" reply.

I've been turned down electronically in the early stages of email communication by a wine collector and a carnivore who were turned off, respectively, because I'm not a drinker and I'm a quasi-vegetarian.

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