There is only one Amelia McDonell-Parry on Planet Earth. Do a Google search for my name and the first page of results turn up links to my writing — much of it about sex and dating on The Frisky — as well as a highly ridiculous and random Google group discussion post claiming that I advocate the rape of minors. (I don’t, of course. This allegation, started by a men’s rights activist quite a few years ago, dates back to an old Frisky post I did on hot guys we’re ashamed we want to bang. Nick Jonas was among them — he was 17 at the time. So, not only not a minor, but also since when does “want to bang” = “advocate raping”? I digress…)
Aside from that last one — which is, again, ridiculous, but vaguely annoying to have to explain — I’m not ashamed of anything you might find by Googling me. (Okay, unless you dive deep into my internet footprint and turn up the work I did in the mid-’90s as a diehard “General Hospital” fan campaigning for the preservation of Sonny and Brenda’s love. That I’m a lil’ mortified by.) But I’ll be honest — as someone who has (willingly and happily) written extensively about dating and sex and held back virtually nothing in the embarrassing stories department, I totally cringe at the thought of a guy reading alllllll about me before our first date. So maybe it’s time I rip a page from writer Anna Davies book and start using a pseudonym or two. No, not as my byline — as the name I give to new dudes I’m dating, until I decide that they’re allowed to know the real me and dig for more.
Davies wrote a piece for ELLE about using three different pseudonyms when online dating. Her reasoning was similar to my own. She writes:
I was proud of the things I’d written—the story about my cross-country lie was published in The New York Times—but I also realized that these stories could seriously skew how a guy viewed me on a first date, especially if he didn’t have similarly revealing search results. At best, it presented an uneven playing field—he knew nearly everything about me, while I knew almost nothing about him. At worst, he’d be so afraid I’d write about him that he wouldn’t give me a chance.
I am also genuinely proud of (a lot) of the work I’ve done, including the funnier, sillier, sexier stuff that snots and prudes may dismiss. But I also know that my writing online, especially when read in bits and pieces, does not reflect the whole of who I am. Yes, I’m totally game to mime a blowjob or show you my vibrator collection in Funny Girl Sex Guide, and I absolutely believe the series presents me as just as sex positive as I am in real life. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t worry that a cursory glance could lead a guy to think that I’m only looking for casual sex. I mean, I’m down to have casual sex with certain people, sure, but I’m also open to a lot more. In my experience, men make up their minds very quickly about how to categorize a woman they meet in a dating context — potential girlfriend, good for hooking up, just friends. I loathe the thought of a guy deciding how to categorize me, even subconsciously, before he’s actually met me, based on what they find online. Using a fake name at first would allow me to make a first impression, not my internet presence.
Plus, it’s not like this little fib goes on forever. “If things seem to be going well, he seems to be genuine, there’s no reason to actively conceal your identity long term,” Davies writes. Even still, I’d be running the risk that the dude will be pissed to discover my name is Amelia not Electra and being a liar is hardly a better first impression than what my Google results reveal. Maybe the key is to not be all drama club about it: Pick a pseudonym that’s close to my own name and only use a first, like Emilia or Amy, instead of some fake movie star name; vow to reveal my real first name after dates two or three, if I want to keep seeing the person; and be up front but not self-important about the reasons for using a pseudonym. After all, any guy who’s going to be with me long-term has got to be cool with what I do for a living, and he needs to be given a chance to do just that.
What do you guys think about using a pseudonym with new dates? Would you do it? Or is it too dishonest?