Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price

A marriage proposal

A few days ago, my friend sent me an e-mail asking for advice.

A man she had been conversing with online ... no, let me rephrase. A man who she had JUST STARTED conversing with online said they should meet. If they liked each other, he said, they should just "go ahead and do it."

My friend, offended, responded that they would not be going to a motel.

No, he said, he meant go to the courthouse and get married.

What should she do? my friend asked in her e-mail. She's between cell phones, so I couldn't call her. I e-mailed her back and told her not to make any hasty decisions.

My initial instinct was to tell her no. Don't do it. I've written too many stories about foolish men and women who fell victim to Internet predators. This man lives in another country, and I've also heard horror stories about men and women seeking marriage simply to get a green card. But I hate people who make generalizations, and wasn't that what I was doing here? Assuming that simply because he's from another country that his only motivation was citizenship? How very American of me.

Then I began thinking about my friend and how, like the rest of us, she just wants love. I thought of all the people I know who have met each other online and who are now happily cohabitating - the married couple who live on the corner of my street who are so devoted to each other, another friend and her husband-to-be. Maybe this guy saw my friend's sweet face, realized her giving nature and just fell hard and fast.

Days passed. I hadn't heard back from her, and I started to panic. Last night, I drove to her apartment after work. She doesn't have a doorbell, so I stood on the street outside her window and yelled her name until she came downstairs.

No, she told me, she didn't get married. While we walked the dogs in the park near her house, she told me that she told her eager suitor that they should wait, get to know each other a little better. His correspondence tapered off quickly and eventually stopped.

I try to tell her that I believe the Internet can sometimes serve a really useful function in bringing people together. At the same time, I think it's a dangerous precedent to forge an entire relationship online. Nor, I believe, does it represent people accurately. My friend is too intelligent, too vivacious, and I don't think a computer screen or a keypad could ever do her justice.

Still, she seemed a little sad as we put the dogs back on their leashes and walk back to her house.


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