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Rejection Stings, Even in Cyberspace

By Sarah E. Richards
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 22, 2005; Page C10

It was just another online dating rebuff, yet for Jeremy Baldwin, this one hurt more than most. The 25-year-old civil servant from Alexandria was so enamored with one woman's profile on the personals site Match.com that he waited a week to contact her. He had to read a book first.

She had written how much she loved John Irving's novel "The Hotel New Hampshire," so he figured that being able to casually quote it was the way to impress her. When he finished the book, he sent her a painstakingly crafted e-mail introducing himself and including key references in the subject line and last paragraph. He imagined her laughing and marveling at their connection.

Then he eagerly awaited her response. He waited. And then he waited some more.

He got nothing.

Not a "Thanks, but no thanks."

Not a "I'm just not into you."

Just the disappointing silence of cyberspace.

"I never heard back, but it was a really good book," says Baldwin, trying to put a positive spin on the experience. "My plea to the opposite sex is, play fair! At least, say 'no.' "

Rejection isn't fun, no matter what side of the "goodbye" you're on. That's true even in cyberspace, where online dating has become as good a place as any to meet your soul mate -- or not. Now giants Yahoo! Personals and Match.com have followed the lead of smaller sites, such as eHarmony, and made it especially easy to click and run. Don't know how to handle a delicate matter of the heart? Just search the menu of "insta-reject" options.

Match.com offers these gems: "Thanks for writing to me, but I have just met someone and want to see how it develops" or "I have decided to take a break from dating for now" or "Unfortunately, we're just not a good match." In the latter, a person can tick a reason, such as distance, age, physical attraction or interests. Yahoo! Personals offers similar options.

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