One of the main reasons I’m opposed to internet dating is because it breeds fantasy. Dictionary.com’s first definition of the word “fantasy” is this: imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained. The first word here is “imagination,” meaning there’s no foundation in reality. “Extravagant and unrestrained” pretty much describes the limitless expanses of one’s mind.
Here’s how it goes:
- You read a guys’s profile – one that he wrote, by the way. How well or accurately does anyone write about themself?
- You see a photo and read a profile that you like and say, “He’s cute,” or “He seems so cool. I want to go out with him.”
- You correspond via email. What he writes is wonderful, funny, poetic, touching.
- You have several epic conversations on the phone, lasting an hour or more, to get to know him. By now you think you really do.
- In your mind you’re holding hands, walking down the beach with him at sunset just before he bends down on one knee and pop’s “the question.”
- You have high hopes and are certain that this guy is different than every other guy you’ve met online. He could be “the one!”
- With your nerves and anxiety, you dress to the 9’s and go out on a date.
- He’s dressed in a crumpled shirt and khakis. He’s polite. He takes you to a nice restaurant. You notice he’s a bit heavier than in his photos. He spills red wine at the table and is, therefore, a total klutz. You take one look at his hands and they look like a girl’s. He scrunches his nose in a weird way when he laughs.
- He walks you to your car and asks you if you’d like to go out again sometime.
- You say, “Sure,” and never take his calls or speak to him again.
What happened here? Before the date, you two were getting married; after the date you’re ready to post his picture and profile on the side of the Space Shuttle Discovery and launch him into space to be with whatever alien life forms exist because that’s where he belongs. The reality in this situation is that you saw a guy’s profile online and you were interested in meeting him. That’s it. You don’t know if he has good table manners, how he treats his family, who his friends are, how he will treat you publicly or privately, whether or not he has a nervous twitch that will annoy you forever, nothing. You don’t know anything about him.
Step #8 listed above was the missing piece. It’s what I call “face time.” Without face time it’s nearly impossible to really get to know someone well. So much happens between steps 1 and 8 and the worst part about it is that it only exists in our mind. A person’s photo and profile leave out so much about who that person really is (by the way, this same thing can happen after just one date too). As human beings, what we then do is fill in the parts that are missing with our own fantasies. Our fantasies are based solely upon what we know along with our past, experiences hopes and desires. We end up molding that person in our minds to fit our fantasy. It has nothing to do with the other person at all. Then, once we get that face time, we bring to that meeting the fantasy about who he is and all the things we made up about him only to find that he falls far, far short of our fantasy. It’s disappointing. When we bring to our first date our fantasy about who he is we unknowingly put pressure on him to be that, or get the ax. Most of the time he’ll get the ax. Believe me ladies, he’ll know it because you will not be able to hide your disappointment. Guys have a 6th sense for that.
It’s also not fair. It takes time to get to know someone well. Think of your best friend. Why is she your best friend? There are often years of shared experiences and being together that creates the strong bond of friendship. If you were to read your best friend’s profile on Match.com or eHarmony.com, would you agree that’s precisely who she is? Impossible. It’s only a paragraph or so. There’s so much more to a person than what’s put in an online profile. Just like there’s more to communication than the written word; there’s body language, eye contact, voice inflection. All of these are facets to one’s personality that are invisible without face time and a lot of it.
I’m not saying to stop online dating, although I don’t recommend it. Those who meet the love of their life that way are more the exception than the rule. Online dating has given people a license to judge others based on little or no facts and then toss them aside when they don’t meet our expectations. The truth is that few people do, including the people we love the most.
Keep it real. Be kind. Take your time. There’s no rush. Remember that it takes time to get to know someone. When you find yourself interested in someone, spend less time on the phone or at the keyboard, get out of the house and meet in person as soon as possible. Go do something. Spend time face to face and ditch your fantasy.