The Internet is a viable place to meet a potential sweetheart….but a little bit of wisdom can go along way to translating that fantasy into reality……
Virtual Foreplay is a guide to help you use the process of dating as a tool for self-discovery, and bring true love into your life, while meeting and mating on the World Wide Web. This is not just another look at “how to date on the Internet”as there are other books with “do’s and don’ts” and websites full of free advice for those who simply wish to try it. Instead, Virtual Foreplay is a guide for Internet users on how to transform their virtual encounters into satisfying and fulfilling real-life relationships.
The world of Internet dating is a mirror that reflects back an image of ourselves, our society, and our interpersonal skills. Both the good and the bad are spotlighted, allowing us to view them clearly. Online dating has many of the same elements that dating in the physical world has, but what is subtle or camouflaged with face-to-face dating is more likely “in your face” and explicit in online dating. The anonymity online gives us a certain boldness that we may otherwise lack. People online are often more blunt and to the point. It is easier both to speak the truth and to tell lies when you aren’t looking another person in the eyes. By taking a step back, examining our own mirrored image, and determining what our interactions reveal, we can navigate toward creating greater intimacy and healthier relationships in our lives.
Some of the benefits of online dating include:
* bringing us a greater sense of confidence
* enhancing our communication skills
* reawakening our intense desire for intellectual intimacy
* verifying the value of asking questions and getting to know each other deeply
* reinstating a sense of romance into our hearts
* emphasizing the value of being honest about who we are
* clarifying what we want and what we don’t want in relationships
* providing the ultimate safe sex
* giving us a tremendous sense of abundance and choice
The Internet has provided us with a great way to meet new people; however, meeting isn’t the only element necessary to create and maintain real-life relationships. Unfortunately, many of the people who are confident, communicative, and outgoing online are at a loss as to how to transfer these qualities to their face-to-face relationships. They experience virtual intimacy and companionship, but in their daily lives may feel empty and alone.
If loving, supportive, real-life relationships are what you seek, what takes place on the Internet can be the “virtual foreplay” to such wonderful connections. Virtual Foreplay will show you how to look at the way you interact with others online and apply the interpersonal skills you hone there to all of your relationships, recreating in your daily life the depth and intimacy that you are enjoying online. Through applying what we learn, we have the ability to create a more honest, compassionate, risk-taking, confident society. The Internet has also given us an opportunity to reach out world wide, learning about other people and their customs. This alone, if handled mindfully, has the tremendous ability to bring more acceptance and understanding to the world.
With every beneficial technology, there is always risk. The anonymity of the Internet has also brought with it:
* an increased opportunity to be dishonest
* an ease in hurting people through cruelty or dismissal
* a temptation to be unfaithful in our existing relationships
* an opportunity to live in a fantasy world without a base in reality
* a superficiality about what is important
* a disassociation from the consequences of our behavior and the power of our words
If we, as individuals, move forward with this technology without paying any attention to where we are heading, we may find that we are creating a virtual world with a virtual intimacy that will lead us to feeling more empty than full. We risk the possibility of spreading more isolation, loneliness, deception, and pain.
Our lives are made up entirely of relationships—with our parents, children, siblings, co-workers, bosses, clients, sweethearts, and lovers, as well as with people who are strangers to us. If we continuously distance ourselves from others and focus on self-gratification, without having people who look us in the eye, hug us and hold us, we risk depersonalizing harm to others—even more than we already have.
Being connected, having a sense of belonging, is one of our core needs. The Internet and online dating can be magnificent tools for bringing more connection into our lives, but they must be used consciously, or we will only be fooling ourselves. We’ll be left totally unable to recreate the connection with other people offline, in the territory of our daily interactions.
Because this technology offers a full spectrum of opportunity, from the relationship enhancing to the relationship destroying, online interaction requires that we make a conscious choice about what we want to create in our lives, that we align our behavior with our goals, and that we take responsibility for creating healthy relationships.
We need to have the tools to transition from the virtual to the actual so that we can experience intimacy and connection in every facet of our everyday lives. By reading Virtual Foreplay, you will gain the skill of self-observation and the power to make choices. You will also learn to align your virtual self with your physical self—creating wholeness in your being, rather than fragmentation. Virtual Foreplay will lead you toward finding your soul, as well as your mate, enabling you to connect with others in a deep and meaningful manner.
As Julie, a 31-year-old woman, shares, “By dating online, I grew emotionally and learned more about myself through the process of having to describe myself to total strangers. This method of dating forced me to look at myself through other people’s eyes and I saw myself in a different light. After having met several people, I realized the misconceptions we have about ourselves. I know myself better now.” This is a powerful starting point for building a relationship with someone else. Sylvia, 27, had a similar eye-opening experience dating online. “When people write down what they feel and think they learn a lot about who they are. As I recently read in a book, ‘I didn’t know I had that thought until I spoke it…’ or as I add—write it. Writing and speaking about oneself is necessary for self-growth.”
Virtual Foreplay will benefit not only those of you who are dating online, but also those who are curious about this phenomenon and want to know more, and those who are vicariously dating online via their friends’ shared e-mails and stories. For the millions of people participating directly, there are millions of family members and friends trying to understand what their loved ones are going through and being called upon to counsel them through the process. Virtual Foreplay can help those people offer healthy support.
What Is Virtual Foreplay?
According to Webster’s, virtual means “not actual, but equivalent; being in essence, not in fact.” It is a strange word that leads us to think of “almost, but not quite.” Virtual dating is dating in essence, but not in actuality. It includes an illusion or fantasy dimension that generally leads us to the reality, but not necessarily and not right away. Unfortunately, there are many times when the fantasy and the reality don’t ever converge, which, in the world of Internet dating, can be frustrating, deceiving, and time-consuming.
Looking at yourself in a mirror is a virtual look at yourself. It isn’t exactly the same as looking at the real you, but it is an equivalent. Your online presentation of yourself as a potential partner or life mate isn’t exactly you either; it is a virtual version of you. (Some representations are more equivalent than others.) Hence, the intrigue and desire—the foreplay to a relationship—that can be created via online dating isn’t necessarily realistic either. If you don’t accurately represent your image, you’ll get people falling in love with the virtual you and falling out of love when they meet the real you.
So where does the foreplay come into all this? In the physical realm, foreplay is the stimulating interaction that comes before sexual intercourse, the tantalizing touch that creates readiness for more. Online or virtual foreplay is the stimulating interaction that determines whether there will be an entwining of two lives; but it is done with words rather than touch. Communicating with depth and hope, sharing intimacy—even via something as seemingly impersonal as e-mail—is like the foreplay to the foreplay, if you will. After all, it is foreplay in essence, if not in actuality, which may eventually lead to the real thing somewhere down the road.
Foreplay also enters into all of this because there is a lot of virtual sexual activity taking place on the Internet. Many people are reaching out via e-mail, chat rooms, and websites to add a new dimension to their sex lives. Because this is such a new phenomenon, people are struggling with how to make sense of cyber sex or “cybering,” as it is often called. Differing opinions abound as to what is and what isn’t really sex. To date there hasn’t been anything in our societal moral code that covers “sex before meeting” and its impact on our relationships. In Part One of Virtual Foreplay, we will look at this topic more closely and examine what it can mean to you.
There is another aspect of online dating as virtual foreplay that may not be as obvious. Something about encountering a person who is confident, enthusiastic, self-respecting, and aware is immensely attractive. Putting yourself out there for anyone to view and critique or lust after takes a certain amount of guts. Dating online sounds like fun until you realize that you have to tell someone about yourself in a way that is honest yet intriguing, within a limited space. For some, this process of increasing and expressing self-awareness is more challenging than meeting people face to face.
The initial stages of online dating all take place over the computer without the benefit of being able to flash a winning smile. When people are faced with the prerequisite questionnaire for being listed on a dating site, and are challenged to describe their best qualities in a unique and interesting way, many are confronted with deep-seated issues of low self-esteem or shame. This can be painful, making it easy for them to give up after a couple of disappointments or slow starts. But to let an experience so rich with opportunities for growth and companionship slip by would be the real shame. Those who actually go through the effort to put themselves online, answer questions about themselves, and field inquiries from strangers will find that their confidence and self-esteem can grow immensely from the process.
I should disclose right from the start that I don’t believe in the concept of a “soul mate.” I believe, instead, in soul mates—plural. I have seen many people lose a partner to death or divorce and feel totally lost, as if there were no one else out there for them. In reality, it was just a matter of time before they were able to find another life partner, one with whom they shared a similarly deep connection, if not a deeper one. How cruel and sad it would be to have a life with only one possibility for true love on a planet with billions of people. That is quite a hit-or-miss proposition. In reality, we are able to feel a deep, soul-to-soul recognition with more than one person. Who we choose as our life partner can indeed be a soul mate, but is not our only soul mate.
A soul mate is one whom our soul knows and has agreed to meet with body to body in life. Our heart intuitively feels the immediate connection when it recognizes one of our soul mates. In the movie The Highlander, there are immortals wandering around among the regular people. Whenever an immortal is within close proximity to another immortal, they can feel the other’s presence. It works the same way with our soul mates. Sometimes it is just a glance of the eyes, a feeling, or a chemistry that is familiar or recognizable.
We have free will and so do other people. Consequently, the path a soul mate takes in their life may not be in alignment with the path we have chosen to take in ours. It is then that our heads have to get involved, to be sure we are making the right choice of a soul mate to have as our life partner. Monogamy is a matter of choice, not lack. We are faithful to our life partner not because there is only one person that we are attracted to or that we can love, but because we have chosen to be monogamous with them.
The goal of Virtual Foreplay is to enable you to find the soul mate of your choice online, and to have the skills for creating and maintaining the love of your life offline. More importantly than finding friends, a romantic partner, or life mate, the book will guide you to find your self, your soul, and your passion. It will help you put your best foot forward when you present yourself on the World Wide Web. This is akin to polishing your soul, letting it shine through you vibrantly, to assist your soul mates in recognizing you, too. With or without a mate, aligning with one’s own soul is a powerful way to live joyfully, in love.
By working through the material in Virtual Foreplay, you will be guided to look at yourself from a different perspective. From there, you can evaluate whether your values, dreams, and goals are adequately defined and expressed. Virtual Foreplay will then lead you toward aligning the virtual you with the actual you. This preparation, by increasing the confidence-, esteem-, and awareness-building potential of online dating, will send you into the arms of a newly met mate with the skills and the strength that can create a real-life success.
In Intellectual Foreplay, I emphasize the importance of aligning your values with those of your partner. In Virtual Foreplay, the attention is placed on aligning your virtual presence with your real essence and using the experience as a process for growth. With Intellectual and Virtual Foreplay working hand in hand, you’ll be well equipped with the tools you need for creating the love of your life.
Browsing This Book
I’m sure you are familiar with the term “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” implying that when you are in the midst of things, it is harder to see what is really going on—the big picture. One of the reasons we go to counselors or talk to friends about our difficulties is because, if the counselor is any good, he or she mirrors back to us what they are seeing so that we can see it, too. Seeing our own situation filtered through different eyes gives us a new perspective, which allows us to make different decisions than we would have otherwise made. We can, however, learn to see ourselves through “different” eyes without always having to bounce things off of another person. Larry, a 30-year-old, explained, “I’ve learned about my personality and my best qualities from online dating. I know more about what I’m looking for out of life, and who my ideal partner is.”
Online dating can be an excellent tool for mirroring back to us the areas in which we excel, as well as areas in which me may need to make new choices. If we pay attention, it reveals to us aspects of our personality that we may want to build on or enhance, and defines our character, as well as clarifying what we are looking for in a partner.
As you read Virtual Foreplay, it will guide you to see long-distance relationships or online dating as “the forest” (rather than a jungle!), and your personal experiences with it as “the trees.” By looking at the forest from a bird’s-eye view, you will be able to choose the paths and trails that will get you through it safely, with ease and grace. Not only will you gain helpful skills for creating healthy relationships, you’ll also greatly enhance your likelihood of maintaining a successful match.
Interspersed throughout the book you will find questions to ask yourself to help you to better identify your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, enabling you to choose new ones, if so desired. I highly recommend that you answer these in a notebook or journal. All that you discover about yourself and the words that you choose to use will serve you as you fill out online dating questionnaires or answer questions posed to you by a prospective partner.
Virtual Foreplay is divided into six parts. The first part, Cyberspace—To Boldly Go Where We Have Never Gone Before, will lead you through a look at the world of dating and how it has changed over the last century. The issues of sex and love online, or over long distances, will be examined and some thought-provoking guidelines will be shared. Since there are really no established rules for how all of this works, you will be guided to determine your own personal code of ethics for navigating these new avenues of dating.
Part Two: Putting Yourself on the Line will invite you to look at yourself as if you were creating a website in which you were the product. This process requires sincere self-observation and consideration, as you determine who you are and what you want to reveal about yourself. By participating in the exercises found in this section, you will decide what is important about you and whom you want to attract. You will also be better equipped to answer challenging online questionnaires, presenting your virtual self in the most positive and accurate light. The focus of this section will be on shining a light that allows you to look at your process with dating as a wonderful opportunity to create value in your life from even the most difficult experiences.
Part Three: Making Contact will turn the spotlight from you toward your interactions with others. By practicing intellectual foreplay online you will discover how to ask the right questions, pay attention to the answers, and determine the right partner for you—one whose values and goals are in alignment with your own.
Part Four: The Black Hole of Cyberspace will lead you through the dark side of dating online and off—handling emotional emergencies. The root of the word emergency is “emergence”; hence, in this section we will gain some useful tools for turning any seemingly disastrous situation into the emergence of something greater. We will explore and conquer the danger of projections, rejections, and assumptions.
In any long-distance relationship, the transition from “technically” being together to actually being together brings with it several challenges, which Part Five: Moving from Virtual to Physical will address. The sudden necessity to share a home, chores, and space is one consideration, but even the change in communication from virtual to verbal can be a challenge. When we are self-observant and responsive, we are better able to make these transitions without compromising our values. Respect is the key issue, both for yourself and for your partner.
One aspect of the forest of online dating that becomes visible when we pull back a little is that never in our lifetimes have we had a more awesome opportunity to network the world round. Part Six: Love Is a Universal Language addresses the bigger picture of online dating, which undoubtedly will soon simply become online networking. Why not expand what we are seeking; why not go beyond personal relationships to include relationships of all kinds? In order to reach out globally with such a powerful tool, we need to be conscious and responsible. We are the custodians of each other’s hearts and need to take responsibility for the impact that we are capable of having in the world.
Personal relationships online can be looked at as a model. How we use this technology, how we treat each other, the integrity that we display, and what we gain from the experience can be transitioned into the many, many other reasons for reaching out to the world on the Internet. In the big picture of things, online dating is just the “virtual foreplay” of what is yet to come!
What the experts are saying about Virtual Foreplay!
Rose Rosetree’s Book Review of Virtual Foreplay
Since 911, many of us have found ourselves reaching out to others. And even before the anthrax scare, many of us were turning to e-mail rather than snail mail. We’re forming friendships, making business contacts, developing hobbies-and therefore, you can probably learn a great deal from Hogan’s perspective. It has relevance even if you’re not interested in online dating; if you are single and searching this is an important book for you to buy.
As she explains, “virtual” is “a strange word that leads us to think of “almost, but not quite.” Virtual dating is dating in essence, but not in actuality. . . . Unfortunately, there are many times when the fantasy and the reality don’t ever converge, which, in the world of Internet dating, can be frustrating, deceiving, and time-consuming.”
Practical advice from this thoroughly researched book includes developing an ethical code, identifying personal values, deciding on non-negotiable issues, appreciating what you have to offer, a consumer’s survey of major online dating sites, and “Fifty Ways to Delete Your Lover.” Even the list of emoticons is delightful. (Next time you e-mail your Mom, how about sending her a kiss: )
In addition to being an experienced relationship coach and emerging media personality, Eve Hogan is really a spiritual teacher. Her wisdom about relationships really transcends the topic of online meet-&-greet, and it’s matched by considerable finesse of expression. “Ultimately,” she writes, “it makes no difference whom we choose as a partner, if we ourselves do not have the interpersonal skills to support and maintain a relationship. Even if we find the mate of our dreams, we still need to be the mate of their dreams, as well.”
When you buy the book, turn to her extraordinary analysis of the mechanics of falling in love, pages 66-67. You’ll find plenty of spiritual insights mingled with this book’s solid how-to advice. I’m sure I’m not the first reader of Virtual Foreplay to have fallen in love with Eve Hogan, or at least risen to a higher level of liking and respect.
“From the novice computer user to the seasoned web surfer, Virtual Foreplay is dedicated to assisting the lovelorn in finding their perfect mate online. It’s packed full of practical ideas on how to transition online relationships into the offline world – detailing how to make the experience fun and fulfilling.”
“Virtual Foreplay is an incredibly practical and powerful guide to finding love on the web. The information, stories, and exercises will help you find the person you’re looking for.”
Author of Communication Miracles for Couples
“Neophytes to cyber-dating will appreciate Eve Hogan’s conversational style and “true life” stories. Virtual Foreplay is a fun and easy read singles who enjoy online romance will appreciate.”
The Advice Sisters
Jessica B. Freedman and Alison B. Dunham
“Through both practical advice and critical commentary, Hogan does a wonderful job of conveying the mixed blessing that the Internet is visa viz our dating lives. She shows us the opportunities, and cautions us on the pitfalls, of this exciting new medium. Virtual Foreplay is a great tool for anyone interested in finding love online.”
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein,
Author of God at the Edge: Searching for the Divine in Uncomfortable and Unexpected Places
Spiritual Advisor to JDate.com
“Virtual Foreplay will be required reading in my dating course. Eve shows how to effectively transition from Cyber Dating to face-to-face dating by looking at realistic expectations of love. A must read for anyone searching for a mate.”
Wendee Mason, MBA
“An inspiring, motivating and fun-to-read guide to online dating, Virtual Foreplay is going to revolutionize the world of online dating and networking.”
Author of Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Lover
“I wish Virtual Foreplay had been available when I was dating online! LifePartnerQuest recommends Virtual Foreplay and Intellectual Foreplay to all of our coaches and clients as essential tools for successful dating!”
David Steele, MA, LMFT
CEO and Founder of LifePartnerQuest Relationship Coaching Resources
“In Virtual Foreplay, Hogan skillfully explores the wide-ranging territory ofonline dating, insightfully presenting both the fun and foibles of the search for that special someone. Taking us beyond the ordinary, she shows us the way to re-connect with our own soul first, openning the door to the kind ofdeeply honest intimacy that forms the vital bedrock of a healthy love relationship.”
“Virtual Foreplay…Online Dating Made Easy! In this fast changing new frontier—what more can one ask?”
Author of God Made Easy, The Single Mother’s Survival Guide and The Invisible String
“Internet dating holds great promise as a way to meet your future soul mate, as well as many potential pitfalls. Virtual Foreplay helps you chart the waters through this exciting new territory showing you how to maximize your success and overcome the obstacles. Highly recommended!
Stefan Gonick, Psychotherapist
Relationship-Talk.com: Expert Advice on Love & Dating
SeekingYou.com Picture Personals
“Eve Hogan’s Virtual Foreplay: Making Your Online Relationship a Real-Life Success is truly the Masters toolkit for making Love Work online! A “must have” for online soul mate seekers!
Author of LOVE MECHANICS The Power Tools for Success with Women
Dating Coach in Los Angeles
“Virtual Foreplay is THE SURVIVAL GUIDE to online dating. It is comprehensive, insightful and well written. This labor of love was written from the heart to all of us who struggle to find our special someone, somewhere out there in this great big world.”
Dennis X. Mecca
“A must have companion book for anyone looking for love on the internet. Practical. Insightful. Virtual Foreplay tells it like it is. We are recommending it to millions of Friendfinder.com members.”
Andrew Conru, Founder & CEO
“Virtual Foreplay offers wise guidelines for successfully navigating the often confusing world of on-line dating. Eve Hogan’s bottom line — to approach the quest for partnership through the crucial filter of self-love — will beautifully serve any single, on-line or off.”
Maurice Taylor and Seana McGee,
Co-authors of The New Couple: Why the Old Rules Don’t Work and What Does
“The key to successful Internet dating is the ability to present yourself accurately and to translate online friendships into real-world relationships. Virtual Foreplay gives singles the skills to make online dating fun and successful.”
“Virtual Foreplay offers the ultimate preparation to dating online. Asking the questions and doing the exercises will better equip you to create successful relationships—with yourself foremost and then with your sweetheart.”
Author of The Hard Questions
“Virtual Foreplay provides a unique approach to the etiquette of online dating: using the online experience as an opportunity for personal growth! Totally refreshing!”
“With the ability to say anything to anyone, anywhere, via the Internet—the questions are: What’s worth saying? What’s worth knowing? Virtual Foreplay is the key to answering these questions in the realm of Internet Dating.”
Joel Roberts, Excellence in Media Coach
Finally, a book from someone who really knows about strategies for successful Internet dating—Virtual Foreplay! The web has become one of the best ways to meet someone special—but only if you understand the way the web works. Here are real tips, for safety and for satisfaction, that can help nervous novices and seasoned internet users avoid dispiriting mistakes. They say that a good guide is hard to find–not any more!