Online dating sites, whatever their more mercenary motives, draw on the premise that there has got to be a better way.

Phone calls can reveal a lot about a person’s communication and social skills.

It is worth the cost of the call to protect your security.

the fall of 1964, on a visit to the World’s Fair, in Queens, Lewis Altfest, a twenty-five-year-old accountant, came upon an open-air display called the Parker Pen Pavilion, where a giant computer clicked and whirred at the job of selecting foreign pen pals for curious pavilion visitors. Within a year, more than five thousand subscribers had signed on. It would invite dozens of matched couples to singles parties, knowing that people might be more comfortable in a group setting. They wound up in the pages of the New York subscriber.

You filled out a questionnaire, fed it into the machine, and almost instantly received a card with the name and address of a like-minded participant in some far-flung locale—your ideal match. He called up his friend Robert Ross, a programmer at I. M., and they began considering ways to adapt this approach to find matches closer to home. “This loser happens to be a talented fashion illustrator for one of New York’s largest advertising agencies.

If you decide to meet for a date, proceed with caution. The following is a guide to ensure that you have a safe encounter: Before you go out with someone new, it is important to get as much information as you can about the person you will meet.

First Date Know-How Be careful when agreeing to meet anyone in person. With so many people communicating via the Net and deciding to date virtual strangers, it is important to be safe and be smart. Here are some guidelines for playing it safe: Watch out for someone who seems too good to be true. Find out where he grew up, where she works, and how he is connected to his community. Begin with a request for a picture and send them a recent one of you.Begin by first communicating solely by email or online chat. The person at the other end may not be who or what he/she says. If anything makes you uncomfortable, walk away for your own safety and protection. These are clues to finding out who this person really is. If someone is unwilling to send a recent photo, this is warning sign. Another question, in a section called “Philosophy of Life Values,” read, “Had I the ability I would most like to do the work of (choose two): (1) Schweitzer. (3) Picasso.” Some of the questions were gender-specific.They started seeing each other, and two years afterward they were married.As for romantic love, it was an almost mutually exclusive category of human experience.