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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Jennifer's Gems > Julie Spira - Perils of Online Dating

by Jennifer Brown Banks

Getting Personal with Julie Spira

Meet Julie Spira.  She's an author, entrepreneur, radio show host and cyber-dating expert. Her latest book is The Perils of Cyber-Dating.

In this Q and A she shares her experience and expertise to enlighten and empower women in their relationships and online dating adventures.

Question: Is there still a taboo associated with online dating, and if so, how were you able to overcome it to find love online?

Julie: When I first went online to replace the former love of my life with an Internet mate, it was back in 1994. I was one of the first of my friends to go online. I was a bit embarrassed then, so I did not tell others that I met my dates online. When asked, I simply said, “We met on a blind date.” While that was true, I didn’t feel comfortable elaborating. Now, fifteen years later, I don’t believe there is a taboo or stigma associated with online dating. Many singles have met their spouses in online dating sites, and by spreading the good news, it gives hope to other singles who really want to meet someone special. At first, I told people that a friend insisted that I go online. Now, I tell others specifically what Internet dating sites that I am a member of.

Question: Does dating through technology make it more difficult to have quality communication in a relationship?

Julie: I believe that technology makes it easier to meet more people in a faster way. If you wait for your friends to fix you up, you may be waiting for a long time.  The technology may speed up the process, but one still needs to take their time in getting to know someone they first meet.

Some singles enjoy text messaging and that instant response.  It can create a “false high” as you don’t know about the accuracy of their profiles and representations.  Video chat and text messaging can make your experience more fun and flirty. Others prefer an initial email, then moving to a phone call, with the end result of making a date to meet in person. 

Sometimes, the problem with sending emails and text messages is that you can’t assume someone actually has received your communications. Relying solely on text messages and email communications is not always effective, as you don’t hear the sound of someone’s voice. They may be kidding around and have a sense of humor, but the recipient may feel differently, have their feelings hurt, and may move on to the next potential cyber-date. I am a believer if you have something to say to someone that could hurt his or her feelings, don’t push the “send” button, or send the email to yourself. You may feel differently about it in the morning.  I was dumped by my fiancé in an email and it really hurt.

Question: Are there any online dating services that you would personally recommend?

Julie: I believe there is something for everyone. There are so many niche sites available now for people with similar interests such as dog lovers, astrology buffs, and music fans. The traditional sites have a large membership base such as, eHarmony,, and Yahoo! Personals. I am a fan of Plenty of Fish, as their site is completely free and in today’s economy, that is a draw for online daters. I recommend online daters to sign up for more than one site and see which one works best for them.

Question: What would it surprise others to know about you?

Julie: Since the book is a juicy tell-all memoir, that aren’t many surprises left. Let’s see, I was a Candy Striper at a hospital, a former rock and roll disc jockey, have a passion for peanut M&M’s, and have seen the Rolling Stones in concert 47 times. I am also a mentor and Big Sister in the Jewish Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Los Angeles program and am a member of their Board of Trustees. I am involved with many charitable organizations and believe in giving back to the community.

Question: Does online dating present more potential dangers for women than other forms of dating today?

Julie: Online dating can be perilous at times. I have shared some of my stories and the lessons learned. The best advice I can give is to meet your date in a public place, don’t reveal too much information too fast, and to trust your instincts and take your time.  I have a ritual that when I am on a date, I excuse myself and go to the ladies room and call a girlfriend to let her know how my date is going. It’s like having a buddy system for online daters. I don’t usually reveal my last name or where I live before meeting a date.  Information online can help you through either a Google search or a background search at the appropriate time. But, it is also true that someone can get “taken” by someone surfing the net whose intentions are not sincere. I have experienced both of these situations, but it could easily have happened in an offline dating situation as well.

Question: What's the biggest lesson you've learned through your online adventures?

Julie: Trust your instincts and take your time. Learn to see the red flags. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.  If I had done a background check on “Chapter 4,” it is quite likely that I would not have married him.  I think the best attitude is to laugh at your some of your dating mishaps and not to let it get you down. Yes, many cyber-dates do not look like their advertised online photos. It’s a numbers game, and you need to keep dating. Eventually you should meet someone if you are realistic about your expectations.

Question: Complete the following sentence: The best thing about Internet dating is...

Julie: ... that it is immediately available, 24 hours a day, and there are so many people online dating, that there is something for everyone. Find the right site for you, be authentic, and you will meet some interesting people that aren’t in your regular circle of friends.

Question: What inspired you to pen this book?

Julie: I often wondered how different my life would have been if I took a right turn instead of a left turn at certain crossroads. The stories in this book are about those left turns in cyberspace. I felt that I could make a difference in the lives of others by sharing my stories, both the heartwarming fairytales, and the disappointing heartbreaks. It’s a real life romantic story. After 15 years, four marriage proposals, including one husband, and one fiancé, it was time to finally write the book I originally thought of writing back in 1995, and turn lemons into lemonade.

Question: What's your next project?

Julie: I am working on a sequel to The Perils of Cyber-Dating, and am currently looking at options for television and film. My site, is growing and more people are sharing their stories of their online dating experiences. I continue to empower singles with an email address to try Internet dating. I also enjoy being back on the radio with my weekly show, “Ask the Cyber-Dating Expert.”

Question: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Julie: I have received such a huge amount of support for this book and I want to thank everyone on my journey for encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and finally write The Perils of Cyber-Dating. I remain, a hopeful romantic.


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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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