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Looking for love on all the wrong Facebook pages

CNET News.com intern Sabena Suri searches for ways to stay sane in the crazy world of teen dating 2.0.

Disclaimer: the names and events in this piece have been changed to protect the innocent--namely, those with Facebook profiles you may want to look up while reading this column.

I was in no mood to party. Still, my friends dragged me out of my house--and into someone else's--for a casual get-together. That night, I spotted Mr. Perfect, perched against the fireplace, deep in conversation. Nice faded jeans, polo shirt and great hazel eyes. Plus, he had a killer way of saying "'sup" with a little jerk of the head. Sigh.

But what to say to him? I couldn't just go up to him and ramble.

Suddenly, I recognized one of the guys he was talking to. Andrew, from math class! Perfect. That night, I went to Andrew's Facebook, my eyes scanning the page for any signs of Mr. Perfect. After some investigation, I found him: Patrick Richardson.

Now things got a little trickier. If I added him as a friend that night, I might seem desperate. Or, he might not even recognize me from the party and could reject my request. I chose option No. 2: a preemptive Facebook message in which I could casually, but with great wit, reference the party.

After a series of flirty messages, followed by some text messages and one phone call, we decided to take it to the next level. Patrick asked me to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

No matter how cute your friend's cousin's best friend may appear to be, his Facebook is not likely to be a true representation of his personality.

Welcome to dating 2.0, where countless details on potential paramours are only a Google search or an hour of Facebook or MySpace investigation away and the field of possible dates seems endless.

As a teen in this age, I often find myself yearning for the past, where I imagine that courtship consisted of a guy breaking into song to woo the girl. (That's what I learned from Grease, anyway). Call me an exception in today's world, but dance numbers aside, I would rather have a guy pass me a nervously scribbled piece of paper in biology class than get the condensed text message version: "hey u wna chill sat nite?" Ugh.

I long for the days when guys had to bend over backward to get a girl's attention, rather than just posting shirtless pictures on their Facebook profiles and waiting for the adoring comments to pour in.

Despite my reluctance, however, I realize that we live in the age of technology--and I love my Facebook as much as the next person does. So, here are some teen tips for maintaining sanity while dating in the Digital Age.

• When possible, strike up an in-person conversation before cyberstalking.
No matter how cute your friend's cousin's best friend may appear to be, his Facebook is not likely to be a true representation of his personality. Creeps can clean up pretty well, and there's a chance you will never know the difference, especially while you're too mesmerized by Cool_Dude_22's font to realize he lacks a personality.

• Don't judge a guy (or girl) by his or her MySpace page.
If the guy you like is showing up pretty frequently on people's AIM profiles and MySpace pages, he may look popular, but there's a significant chance he doesn't do much more than sit at his computer all day. If that's not bad enough, those pics he shot of himself at the mirror, where he's flexing his abs while simultaneously doing a thumbs up, should speak for themselves. If they don't, I will speak for them. Stay. Away.

• Don't take your lovers' quarrels online.
It's pretty funny when I'm on IM and I get snippets of my friends' romantic squabbles copied and pasted to me. Really, engaging friends digitally in your lovers' quarrel is the equivalent of having a heated argument in a crowded restaurant. And it's like I'm just idling at the table next to yours, waiting to put my two cents into a relationship that I'm not in.

• None of that long-distance junk.
You may think the boys in your state are so overrated. But Chris from Alabama plays lacrosse and is president of the school poetry club--or so he says--so you give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, you, girl from California, are "dating" Chris from Alabama. OH EM GEE! You change your Facebook status to "in a relationship." What next? Don't think those steamy, late-night text message sessions are going to count as a real relationship. And anyway, your parents are going to nix those the minute they see charges for texting with an out-of-state number.

• Don't post makeout pictures on MySpace.
Honestly, it's sad that I even have to spell this one out, but it makes me cringe when I see makeout pictures of my friends who have become an item. Those kind of pics are acceptable in celebrity magazines. But I sit next to you in English class, and that's just imagery that I don't need while reading Shakespeare. Please save your passionate embraces for any place other than my computer screen. I wasn't invited to the date, so don't make me feel like I was there.

• Remember, girls still like to get flowers.
Boys, despite the fact that you can send us e-cards for our birthdays and write us e-mails when we're sad, we haven't forgotten that there's a world outside our monitors. The worst is when a guy, knowing that you've been moping all day, sends a text message that goes something like this: "hey babe thinkin bout u miss u luv u ttyl bii." Excuse me? Not everything you type in five seconds is going to put a smile on our faces. What can restore our happiness is a bouquet of flowers or some homemade fudge. (Note: My personal favorite pick-me-ups include pink tulips and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. Please send all orders directly to my desk.)