Here is the response I received from Match.com Public Relations:
Thank you for contacting Match.com.
This series was presented to us by the author as a firsthand account of her own online dating experiences. In order to protect her own privacy, she changed several of the more easily identifiable details (including people’s names).
I have to say this wasn’t the response I was expecting. I really thought they were going to say that they assumed their readers knew it was fiction all along. I don’t have any problem with her changing names and using a pen name, but I’m not convinced the story bears more than a passing resemblance to the author’s life.
I’ve found another blog post titled “Single in the Suburbs” really makes me irritated where they were discussing the series in May of 2008, so the series started at least 3 years ago. I’m guessing it is closer to 4 years ago, because the blog quoted the 49th installment of what MSN calls a weekly column. It may be even older than that, because there appear to have been significant periods of time where the series wasn’t updated. Interestingly fairly early in the comments section of the irritated blog someone stated that it was fiction:
Don’t know if this changes how you feel about it, but it’s a fictional column written by a novelist who’s written a romance novel on a similar topic 🙂 Thank goodness.
The blog author and several of the commenters were surprised at this, but all seemed to accept it once it was stated. This seems to be fairly common from the threads I’ve seen discussing the series. Most of the women discussing it don’t have any doubt that it is real. For example, there is a comments to the author page on the site with her new series. The first few commenters write from the perspective that the events in Suburbs actually happened to the author. One even asks her how things are working out with Ethan:
So sad that Single in the Suburbs is over, but very happy for you and Ethan. Thanks for keeping me entertained every Thursday. I couldn’t wait to read whether you chose Ethan or Craig, but secretly wanted you to pick Ethan! Are we going to get any updates on you and Ethan? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love an update!
The next commenter agrees:
Seconding! I’d love to know what you and Ethan are up to now. Sounds like a great guy!
But the next commenter writes:
Thanks for sharing Single in the Suburbs with all of us for the past 2 1/2 years. I look forward to your future works, and I am supportive of the open ended way that you stopped the column. Life has no ending, and not all tales turn out the way we expect them to. It is best for your fans to keep that in mind when reading your “reality fiction”.
The author responds to a later question on that page, but doesn’t respond to the commenters who think the story is real or the one who suggests it is fiction.
Also, I noticed that Debra Kent has updated the picture on her linked in page since I posted on this yesterday. I’m guessing that isn’t a coincidence.
Edit: Her linked in page has since been removed so you can no longer see the new picture.
Lastly, my original post is now
mid way down at the bottom of the first page of google results for Single in the Suburbs. I’m hoping as more visitors see that page it will keep moving higher up. Perhaps some of my fellow bloggers will be willing to assist by linking to my original post with the text Single in the Suburbs. Together we may even prevent at least a few kids from growing up in broken homes due to frivolous divorce.