Hey, lover boy—hiya, doll: Stop spending so much time hardening your abs, and start working on your turns of phrases. Sweet talk has charged back into romance. As e-mail inboxes take over Cupid's duties, he or she who can best throw around the English language now has the edge.
In days of yore, people would size up potential partners through the exchange of letters. Then came pickup bars and clubs, where visuals were all: Cleavage, a manly swagger and flashy outfits were the means to impress. Even if the guy on the next stool was spinning poetic gold, you couldn't hear him.
Technology has turned the clock back a notch. Internet courtship—based on e-mail messages—has taken off. Match.com, Yahoo personals and the other on-line dating services do a $300-million-a-year business. They provide subscribers basic information and pictures of available partners. The individual contacts an interesting prospect via e-mail, and the two send messages back and forth.
Eventually, they may decide to meet. But by that time, they have established a relationship based more on written thoughts than on looks.