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When a personal blog gets personal

Special to The Times

The first time I blogged about a boyfriend, he broke up with me a week later. David didn’t know about the blog, so it wasn’t something he’d read; rather, I had jinxed my relationship status by announcing it. Or so I told myself and the few readers who received my sheepish, embarrassed explanation. Perhaps, had I considered why it took five months to write about him, I might have realized that the relationship, not my acknowledgment of it, was the problem.

By the time Scott came into my life, the blog had grown. I was opening up, talking as much about my feelings as my observations, and had been rewarded with a burgeoning readership. I even posted my URL on MySpace, intent on building more traffic. Ironically, the link didn’t attract new readers, but did make an old friend more attracted to me.

Scott prized my posts, my online persona. If the writing was a window to my soul, my blog gave greater depth to the college girl he once crushed on. Despite his devotion, I still nursed relationship insecurities and feared the jinx; I held off writing about him, second-guessing every keystroke that might be misinterpreted. What if I wrote we were “dating,” but he thought we were only “hanging out”? What if a commenter called him my “boyfriend” before I felt comfortable doing so? It took three months before I took his blog virginity.

At first, Scott enjoyed seeing his name in the spotlight, being a subject of the commenting community. Eventually, however, the “he’s” and the “we’s” and our names so close in proximity served only to underline the emotional distance between us.

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After Scott, I removed the link from MySpace and never mentioned it to suitors. If a relationship worked out, I didn’t want to self-consciously self-edit; if it didn’t, the guys didn’t need to read why.

So I surprised myself by telling Peter, a writer as well, on our first date. We got stirred up over our shared passion. “What do you write?” he asked. Uh-oh. I couldn’t tell him that my day job writing marketing copy filled that fervor. Nor did I want to hide this significant part of my life.

“I have a blog,” I admitted. His face lighted up, the questions began: What’s it about? Do you have a lot of readers? What’s it called?

I paused. But something told me that, as a fellow writer, he might actually “get” it. Perhaps I wanted to be vulnerable or just put my neuroses out on the dinner table. I already knew I wanted to see him again -- might as well cut to the chase of this chase.

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The next morning, my stomach sank as I imagined him reading my deepest thoughts and random ramblings. I felt uncomfortably exposed and considered that I might never hear from him.

On the contrary, he was enamored. Like Scott, he connected with my words, but the writer in him also admired my craft.

His admiration didn’t quell the questions. How do I, when do I, address the guy I see twice per week? Where do I draw the line between being honest about my feelings and oversharing too early in the relationship?

Rather than ignore the questions, this time, I asked them. I used the blog as a conduit for more important discussions about what he might be thinking. And though I continue to harbor some fears of rejection and yes, jinxes, I’ve learned that taking risks can reap great rewards.

Last week, Peter provided me with a much-coveted symbol of his affection: After two months of getting good blog, he gamely gave me a toothbrush.

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calendar@latimes.com


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