I met Angie on an online dating site. We exchanged a few email messages, and, curious to know more about her, I did a little online searching to see what would pop up. A few clicks, and suddenly I hit the jackpot: She had a blog where she chronicled her dating adventures. “You’ll know more about me than my gynecologist does!” she proclaimed, inviting viewers to read on.

And so I did. Angie’s blog exposed the kinds of intimate details that people usually don’t divulge to any but their closest confidantes — her dating life, fights with friends, even her alcohol consumption — all written in brutally honest but engaging prose. Intrigued by the travails of this kooky chick, I made plans to meet her. Who knows? I thought to myself. Maybe she’ll write something cool about me. I imagined hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Angie’s readers learning about me from her glowing portrayal online. Internet celebrity would surely follow.

When she ended up postponing our first face-to-face meeting, I was disappointed — until I realized I’d still made it onto her blog: “Passed on a date tonight with a hunky editor.” She means me! I realized. She called me hunky! We continued emailing back and forth — I knew she was interested, if only from what she blogged about me — and we arranged for a rescheduled date. Together for the first time, we hit it off quickly — perhaps abetted by my rather intimate understanding of her from her online musings. We got along so well, in fact, that I knew she wouldn’t be upset when I told her that I’d found her blog. (I didn’t think it’d be fair to continue checking in on her online diary without her knowing I’d be doing so.) Nonetheless, my disclosure didn’t seem to have much effect on her candor, as I discovered in a new entry a few days later. “I want to write a tiny bit about a clever boy who baked me cookies and kicked my ass at Scrabble. I think being beaten at Scrabble is my latest dating prerequisite. And the cookies were a nice touch.” I was anonymous, still, but she did allude to our spending that first night together: “I meant to go home but ace-pro kissing can often lead to waking up in a borrowed, backwards pair of boxers.”
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I was less embarrassed by this exposure than flattered. I am clever! I told myself. And I am an ‘ace-pro kisser’! Somehow, reading compliments was more of a thrill than hearing them in person. It was as if I were peeking into her diary — which I was, more or less — and getting a glowing review of myself as both a person and her love interest. Sure, she knew I might be reading, but here I was, ‘a clever boy’ that she wanted to tell the whole world about.

As our relationship progressed, so did my presence — soon known as “Matt” — on her blog. She detailed what we did on our dates. She mused about how I made her feel. She wrote poetry about me. After a particularly good weekend together, she posted, “There are people who make you so excited and nervous that you’re reluctant to drink the edge away because you don’t want to soak that fluttering in your chest. I don’t know how sitting next to someone with recurring sniffles can feel so good, but sometimes it does.” (I’d been battling a cold.) It was a bit overboard, but no one had ever said such sweet things to me — much less made them available for all to see.

I was less comfortable, though, about her descriptions of our physical relationship. “The first night he got me naked,” she wrote, “There was a moment he stood shirtless in jeans pulling his belt from the loops. His motion was swift and almost violent. My lungs were surprised by the gust it caused.” OK, so it’s not Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but this was my belt she was talking about. And I’m not violent — in bed or otherwise! I considered asking her to tone it down, but decided I was too intrigued by the uncensored account of our time together to mention it.

For the most part, the blog was basically a voyeuristic element of our relationship. But occasionally it did clue me in to how Angie felt about me. She wrote, “Since I met Matt, it feels almost like starvation when he’s not touching me.” And when I read that, I realized something: I wasn’t feeling the same way about her. A month after we met, she broached the exclusivity talk, at which point I broke things off. It wasn’t pretty, and I said things I regretted immediately.

The next morning I was both remorseful about what had happened and freaked out by the prospect of what she’d probably written in her blog. My stomach dropped upon reading her version of events when they were posted later that day. “Matt,” she wrote, “said something that may stick to my ribs for the rest of my life like mildew to a shower curtain.” She quoted me verbatim. “Matt said, ‘Wow. You really are f*’ed up!’”

I felt awful — not only because I’d said something so hurtful, but that her hurt was being broadcast to anyone and everyone who regularly read about her goings-on. There was no way I could undo it; my stupid comment would live on forever on her blog.

Still, our breakup didn’t keep “Matt” off the blog, as soon she began writing about getting over me. “But then I dreamed about Matt and missed him all afternoon.” While we did not call or email each other, I continued to check in on her on the blog, hoping for the upswing in her life that would indicate I was no longer a source of sadness. And yet, hard as this is to admit, I simultaneously relished reading the entries in which I’d pop up as “the Last Guy” — part masochistically, part egotistically.

But eventually, “Matt” phased out as she turned to talking about dates with other guys and relationships. I missed seeing myself in the blog — or, more specifically, seeing how she perceived me — but I still enjoyed reading about this engaging girl, learning that she was doing well and holding out hope I’d show up again as a pleasant memory.

I didn’t expect to be dating a blogger when I first got in touch with Angie, nor could I anticipate how addictive checking her posts would become. But along the way I learned a few things about how the blogging trend impacts the way people date — it certainly did for me. For starters, I learned a lot about Angie via her blog — and I most likely learned it too soon. Getting to know Angie took place before I even met her, and in retrospect, I would’ve been better off letting her tell me about herself in person. And since I didn’t really censor myself around her for the sake of coming off well on her blog, I also learned quite a bit about myself and how my actions and words affected her. While this is generally a good thing, it can be hard to reconcile the awesome person you think you are with the less-than-awesome things you sometimes say and do — particularly as they are described by someone you care about.

Angie and I bumped into each other recently and chatted briefly. Again I confessed that I’d still been reading her blog and knew all about what she’d been up to since we had dated. A few days later, I was happy to find myself in her blog once more and in not-so-unkind terms: “Today I passed an editor I adored a year ago. He’s a good guy. We just wanted different things.” With that closure, maybe I’ll stop reading her blog now.

Matt Schneiderman is a freelance writer based in New York. He has has written for Stuff, Cargo and Sync, among others.