This man I “met” on a dating Web site had issues with my refusing to give him my number. Initially, we had nice rapport via e-mail, despite his failing to pay attention (asking if I’d been married when I’d already mentioned my divorce lawyer). He apologized and gave me his number, hoping to talk and meet. I told him I’d call, but kept getting busy. Several days later, I called but missed him. He again requested my number so he could call me back (he’d already asked several times), and I told him it takes me time to get comfortable enough to share it. He was “disappointed,” and said if we were going to talk, it should be “right away,” maybe even that day, so he wouldn’t be waiting around. I wrote that he hadn’t been listening again, as I’d said I work days and can’t chat then. I told him to look up Internet dating guidelines, which always advise against dispensing personal contact information until meeting, and said we weren’t a good match. He wrote that my actions indicate I’m not open to a relationship. I asked him to stop e-mailing me. He then e-mailed me twice more, speculating about my psychology.  

— Tell Me This Isn’t Creepy

Some of the logic I hear from Internet daters is seriously puzzling: “I won’t give you my number, but I’d be happy to meet you in a darkened canyon, late at night, next to a shallow grave.” And, sure enough, at the appointed time and place, they see old HillsideStrangler27 waiting for them, and wonder aloud, “Do you always accessorize with a shovel?”

If you’re like many people, you see a serial killer behind every Internet dating profile, but you’ll trust a guy you sometimes see at the coffee shop or around the neighborhood. Well, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were people’s neighbors, too. (Everybody has to live somewhere.) On the Internet or off, you protect yourself by paying attention to any troubling things a guy says or does instead of focusing on who you want him to be. As for what Internet dating guidelines actually say, it’s generally that you shouldn’t put identifying information in your profile (real name, address and the best time to rob you). Other precautionary tactics include creating a special e-mail address, vetting people by phone before meeting, and calling from or a blocked number — ideally, when you say you will, so a guy isn’t sitting by the phone like the only 16-year-old girl who has yet to be asked to prom.

So this man had to have the last word, the last word and the last word. If he keeps e-mailing, yeah, that’s a problem. But what did you expect? You strung him along just long enough to dump him. He actually should’ve been wary of you from the start, considering how you came on like a mean schoolmarm, reprimanding him for failing to commit to memory every detail you ever e-mailed him. My guess is, he’s right — that the last thing you want is to get close to anybody. If that’s the truth, work on changing it — don’t seek a relationship, then sabotage any chance of it by making your interactions about as fun as a staged reading of a wireless phone contract. If you continue Internet dating, you should recognize that a guy you meet for drinks actually doesn’t need your phone number; he’ll just break in through your back window, tie you up and talk to you for as long as he pleases after he follows you home from the bar.

A wench in the plans

I’m a 59-year-old married man who really clicks with a new co-worker. We even share the same goofy sense of humor. The problem is, she’s 30, single and attractive. My wife got seriously jealous upon meeting her at a company function. I reassured her we’re just friends. She apologized, but still seems jealous. Am I wrong for trying to nurture this friendship? I’d like to invite this woman to our house for dinner, but I’m not sure how my wife would react.

— Congenial

Maybe you want nothing more from her than friendship (or maybe you’re just too old and hairy in the wrong places to have anything more). Can’t you make do with sharing “the same goofy sense of humor” on lunch breaks? Or, is your actual goal getting your “friendship” out in the open so you’ll feel less guilt about nurturing something a little friendlier? You have to know that bringing this chickie home will hurt your wife. I mean, come on. Oh, the great mysteries of our world: Stonehenge, Loch Ness, cold fusion and how ever will your wife react to “Honey, that pretty woman half your age wants to know what she can bring to dinner. I mean, besides her hot self.”

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (