Computers -- the modern matchmakers


Q: I have a suggestion for techno-junkies like your reader Kenneth W., and others, that might help them as it helped me.

The suggestion is to use computer bulletin boards as a way of meeting people. There are many such boards out there, with varying options.

Here's how they work: You call up via your computer (many have free trial memberships, and they are not 900 or 976 numbers, but regular local numbers with membership ranging from 50 cents ** an hour to $25 for three months, one hour per day).

You fill out a questionnaire or profile. Then you can do "matchmaking," where your answers are matched against those of other members, giving you a list of possible matches. You can then browse their profiles and, if interested, send them an E-mail letter and/or chat with them online.

I've tried this and made several friends. Some are chat-only friends and others I have met and gone out with as friends and/or dates. It has certainly helped me meet other people! The boards serve multiple lifestyles -- male/female/straight/gay/lesbian. Some of the boards also list local events, AIDS awareness, movie reviews, personal ads and so on.

A: It's great to welcome a new option in the meeting game. The more of them the better.

Q: I am a 22-year-old girl with a major problem: I can't say no! I'm not talking about sex, just dating. I am currently involved in a long-distance relationship with a guy I truly care about. However, since I'm so young, I see nothing wrong with seeing other guys while he's away. My problem is, I can't end any of the other relationships that I've started. I am not really interested in any of the guys in a romantic way, but I don't want to be the bad guy and hurt anyone's feelings. So I find myself in an awkward situation.

The other two guys I've been dating are very interested in me; the feeling is definitely not mutual. It's not that I don't like them as friends -- I do enjoy their company -- I'm just kind of passing the time until my boyfriend comes home. I know I have to be strong and end this, but how should I do this tactfully without hurting anybody?

A: You start your Project Mercy by telling all of the men currently involved in your life that you don't want romantic involvement because you already have a steady boyfriend. After the dust settles from that announcement, make a list of your interests and start making inquiries about groups centered around them, clubs and organizations you can join to make your leisure time interesting. Romance is not on the current menu for you, and if you cannot live with that truth, you need to talk about it with your long-distance love. You can't have it both ways, so make a decision between social monogamy or plurality -- and stick to it. Get things straight with yourself, be truthful and kind, and you won't be flustered and confused.

Q: Do you have any advice for those of us with lost loves who want them back?

I met and fell in love with a wonderful woman. We hit it off very well and were even discussing marriage. My career hit a snag, I lost my job, and in all the mayhem that comes with such a drastic change in circumstances, we parted. Our parting was not pleasant. I admit my priorities were screwed up: I was into my career and tended to emphasize that over my relationship.

I now am self-employed and have succeeded in putting my life back together. I enjoy my work, but I also enjoy other aspects of having a life: getting together with friends, rediscovering old hobbies and many other things that were denied me when I was shackled to my former profession. I would really like to have this woman back in my life, but I am somewhat stymied as to how to do it. She refuses to take my calls, won't answer my letters and (the one time we happened to run into one another since we broke up) won't talk to me. Having had time to assess our relationship, I feel we could be very good for each other and I am sincere in my desire to mend our bridges. Losing my job and this wonderful woman made me open my eyes and motivated me to make some positive changes.

I'd really like her back. Any suggestions?

A: You've got to win this lady back with an all-out and continuing campaign. Through letters and calls, your efforts so far have been in vain. But if you persevere in your efforts and don't take no for an answer, you stand a chance. Tell her in every way possible what you have told me: that you have learned much from the twin losses of the past, and that reordered values/priorities make you realize her worth in your life and the value of what the two of you had together. Describe the range of your new life and let her know her place in it. Write or call her every few weeks. Give it your all.

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