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“The relationship is all about what is happening inside of the soul and the mind, and the body doesn’t get in the way.” “We met our souls first.” This was the benefit of cyberdating, especially for singles who felt insecure in the flesh.

The downside was that in the absence of visual cues or social context, it was often difficult to tell your interlocutor from the person you hoped he or she might be.

As more and more Americans got online in the early 1990s, they learned how to enjoy relationships that were text-only.

Pioneering “cybercitizens” developed forms of dating that were all talk.

When my sister, searching for images of her favorite British pop stars, accidentally typed “Spicy Girls” into Yahoo, the search results made her run, shrieking, from the family computer. “It is probably no coincidence that this sea change comes on us at a time when AIDS lurks in the alleyways of our lives,” a writer for The Nation mused in 1993.

Months later, the New York Times reiterated the point.

At the turn of the twentieth century, “tough girls,” “charity cunts,” and other early daters upset their parents and the police by taking a process that had always been conducted in private to the streets.

“Computer erotica appears to provide many people with a ‘safe’ alternative to real, personal relationships in a world where HIV is deadlier than computer viruses.” This was in a book review. If a partner asked you (while undressed in the bedroom) to pretend to be something you’re not, say a cashier at a grocery store or a famous astronaut, you would:a. Think he or she had totally lost his or her mind, and suggest a visit to the therapist.d.

The book, The Joy of Cybersex, argued that the World Wide Web was a godsend for this reason. Say: ‘Sure, honey, but I’d actually rather be a rocket scientist, okay? Think about it for a few minutes, fix yourself a drink, and succumb to the unknown.

“She began regaling me with descriptions of her expanding lingerie collection. In short, she was becoming her online personality.” Surfing was the new cruising, and it could change lives.

In “health” class, the point of our endless discussions was to scare us off of sex for at least a few years.

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