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Family Affairs 

“...these guys are on their computers all day. And the only way they’re going to date is on these sites. I mean, otherwise, they would just be hobbits for the rest of their lives.”

Wednesday, Dec 12 2007
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“DEBORAH,” WHO HAS ASKED THAT her real name be changed in order to protect her family, admits that she was being a busybody when she signed up her unwed 37-year-old brother for both Match.com and eHarmony. But she doesn’t regret it. The way she sees it, sometimes people need a little push.

“I’ve known a few people who have gotten married off these sites,” the 23-year-old explains while speed-clicking on a brand-new MacBook Pro through 107 digital profiles that sit in her brother’s eHarmony “all matches” inbox.

“I want to show you this one girl I really like, but I can’t find her profile, urrr . . . eHarmony has more ‘good girls.’ Match has more party girls. You have to work harder on Match. You have to sit down and pick out the girls you are interested in and e-mail them. On eHarmony, people will always arrive in your inbox. Even if you fart around for a month, they just keep coming. My brother prefers eHarmony.”

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Deborah stops to look at a new suggested match in her brother’s inbox, someone she has never seen.

“Oh, she is adorable. Look at her! My brother is really cute. But he has always been really ripped — buff and skinny — so all these girls came onto him. Now he’s a little bit older and doesn’t [get] that same kind of attention, so he doesn’t know how to hit on girls. He was in a relationship for six years, and then he started dating this girl who is really psycho, but he still sort of sees her ’cause he basically doesn’t like to be alone.”

It should be noted that Deborah didn’t just encourage her brother to join these online sites, she also manages his dating profiles for him, screening out the ones she doesn’t like, and even “nudging” or “winking” — as the dating sites call it — at the more promising ones. She styled and shot a photo session for his profile images. She dressed him, told him to ride his skateboard outside their mom’s Los Feliz home, and even brushed his black Labrador and included the dog in her brother’s profile photos to make him seem more approachable.

Do you think you might be a little pushy? Putting him on these sites?

“Yeah, I guess, but I talked about it to my therapist, who said it was okay as long as I wasn’t getting obsessed. I actually haven’t looked at this site in a while.”

Deborah was sold on online dating when she had a receptionist job a while back.

“I was answering phones at a postproduction company in the Valley,” she explains. “The people who work there do . . . I don’t even know what it’s called — dorky, tedious computer work — programming, like ‘Send it to the render file for 48 hours.’Do you know what I am talking about? Anyway, these guys are on their computers all day. And the only way they’re going to date is on these sites. I mean, otherwise, they would just be hobbits for the rest of their lives.”

There was one particular would-be hobbit in the office who really sold Deborah on the possibilities of online dating.

“I couldn’t believe he was married!” she recalls. “ ’Cause you ask him one question and it’s just one long dork fest. I mean, words don’t describe him. He was incredible.

“He met the woman of his dreams, truly. His wife has long red hair. She is really buxom and voluptuous. A beautiful, sassy nerd-masseuse who reads fantasy novels, but would never go meet somebody out at a bar, ’cause she is a masseuse who reads fantasy novels. They are perfect for each other. I mean perfect. And they are really into PDA — public displays of affection? They make out all the time in public.”

“Deborah” figured if eHarmony worked for this guy, why not her shy, athletic lawyer brother? And, in fact, while she was at it, why not her single 60-year-old mom?

“My mom was crazy about Match.com,” Deborah says with a sly smile. “She got really into it. She would sit there with a glass of wine and go down a row [of profiles] and just ‘wink’ at all of them. She thought it was so funny! She would have a date every weekend, and she started looking — she always looks cute — but she started looking extra cute. Some of them were like, ‘Let’s go sailing’ or ‘I want to take you to Hawaii.’ I mean great guys! I am talking gray spiky hair like, ‘This is me climbing Kilimanjaro. I like to go wine tasting in Paso Robles.’ This one guy, who she still keeps in touch with, works for NASA. She never got intimate with anyone, but she liked to play hard to get and it was really healthy for her. It made her feel foxy.”

Her mother says that once Deborah got the idea to put them on Match.com, there was no stopping her. “Before we knew it, she was rummaging through old pictures,” her mother recalls via phone. “She veered towards the less glam, because she said, ‘Mom, you don’t want to put your best shot up there, ’cause when they see you at the door, you want them to go ‘Wow!’Then she wrote my bio. The next day it was like ‘bang!’I had all these e-mails and winks from tons of people — 28-year-young bucks who like older women, to ancient curmudgeons. Then I am hooked and I can’t wait to get home and read these guys’ e-mails. We would all sit around the computer and read them; it was fun. I seemed to attract doctors, psychiatrists and scientists. And some with tattoos and motorcycles.”

Deborah’s mom eventually started seeing someone seriously, someone she didn’t meet online, and closed her account at Match.com. But when she talks about her Match days, her voice speeds up with excitement.

“It’s a great introspective exercise, just to write the profile, ‘Who am I?’ I thought it was silly at first, and then I saw the value in it. Because you have to define things like, What do you want? What are your values? Sometimes we don’t stop to think about those things. The older people on Match.com have done a lot of inner work, and that is kind of interesting. With the loss of community these days, you don’t have the social networking we used to have to meet people, especially in bigger cities, and so smart people say, ‘I have to take control myself and expand the gene pool.’ ”

Do you think it is good that she put your son on there?

“Well, he can be a little shy. Girls usually really like him. He has to go and read the e-mails now and write them back.”

Deborah explains that her brother is less proactive than their mom; he has only gone on a few dates. So in the meantime, she helps him maintain the sites. Soon she is looking at another profile and, “Ohhhh . . . she’s trouble. Anyone who looks high-maintenance or like they would be trouble, my brother would be wayyy into.”

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