I should have stopped responding, but I was physically attracted to him⎯something that didn't happen often. If you don't want hot monkey love with a particular human, you need to communicate that. Now I was being tested on a subject I knew nothing about. If you don't want someone like me, please let your freak flag fly right away.Prior to that, I spent five years having odd, incomprehensible, maddening, and deeply disheartening encounters like the one with Gary. Sometimes I'd get an email from someone who was exasperated by my own flaky behavior. With no agreed-upon etiquette, all of us did what we could get away with, or we emulated others. Calculating debt based on who had caramel in their frappuccino is not. This habit, I imagine, is due to social anxiety, narcissism, or some combination. If you think you might be a Chatty Cathy or Charlie, here's a test: Do you love the interplay of bass and treble in your own voice? Did you raise your hand in third grade even before the teacher asked anything?I'd like to blame this on a bunch of assholes, but that's not the case. If my loved ones currently in the digital dating world are any measure, things have gotten no better since I took myself off these sites. But in doing research for a book on sex, I've also learned a lot about the mating habits of our species. My opinion is this: If a same-sex couple is meeting for the first time, one of you should assume full financial responsibility. If you answered yes to any of these, you might need a list of polite questions you can bring along on your dates.To help my friends, and anyone else, I've come up with a handful of tips regarding web romance decorum. Another inspiration for these recommendations is the way I was courted by my husband, which was exemplary. I think we can agree that the person paying on a date should not be your mother. Then dare yourself to get though them all before coffee stains become visible in the cup.I tried to be myself on that first date with my husband, wearing my favorite summer outfit, cat-eye glasses and all.He was reading a French-African play⎯upside down (meant as an obscure joke).Throughout our relationship, I've learned a lot about setting boundaries and being more verbal when it comes to my needs. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends.
At first I thought we both had on the wrong outfits.Then I realized we were the wrong person⎯for each other. This taught me that the more you express your true nature, the greater the risk someone will reject you. If etiquette is a form of civility, the first one we should extend this to is ourselves.