Getting Dating Advice Online

If you’re willing to fork out $20 a month for dating advice, you’re in luck. A newly launched website,  econfidant (“smarter advice for dating & relationships”) does just that:  

econfidant can answer all of your dating or relationship questions. No question is too basic or too involved. We can help you strategize how to get dates, work on ways to make your relationship work, help you figure out what you are really looking for in a relationship, or provide suggestions on fun things to do on dates. econfidant addresses questions, concerns and issues related to all stages of the dating process- there are no bad questions.

It’ll be interesting to see if they still think that after a few hundred questions along the lines of “my date hasn’t called me back after I burped the national anthem on the car-ride home. It was a long ride, the conversation had thinned out and I didn’t know the words. What should I do next?” 

Anyway, econfidant is the brainchild, if that’s the right word, of Rachel Begelman and Sarna Lee, “two longtime friends whose own experiences convinced them no one should experience dating alone”. (Both are currently in long-term relationships.) I certainly agree with part of their premise: “We live in an age where we meet more people online than in real life and where a text message can be interpreted a thousand ways,” Begelman said. “The one-size-fits-all model of relationship books and advice columns is no longer enough.” (It’s interesting how SMS gets blamed for all sorts of things, probably correctly. There’s a whole thesis in there, if someone is not already doing it.)  

The idea, then, is that people are going to feel happy about coughing up $20 a month to tell their problems to strangers because “you can get the advice you’re seeking without having to worry about what a friend might think or repeat, and without having to listen to their problems first, ” according to Ms. Lee. In other words, friendships can be a real pain when they’re two-way. Whatever happened to friends who never told you their problems, but loved listening to yours?

Anyway, I wish I could say I thought this was a good thing. But I don’t. I’m not against online dating. Finding a partner is a bit like finding a job: You rarely find one through close friends, so networking makes sense. But going online for romantic advice? Perhaps it might work in some cases — some people clearly need a slap or clip around the ear, a need that can be spotted by long time friend or complete stranger alike. But I worry that this is getting mighty close to outsourcing one’s friends. How can the quality of a response to question of a few sentences take into account the peculiarities of every situation, of every person? Isn’t the backlog of knowledge one builds up about one’s friends through long tedious conversations about their problems preparing us for exactly to dispense the kind of advice a friend having dating issues might need?

Who knows. I’d test it myself (you get a first question free) but I’m happily married. There’s no website for that, although I’m sure there will be one day.

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01. March 2006 by jeremy
Categories: E-commerce, Internet life, Networks | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 comments

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