We Met Online
Every day I am confronted with the detailed realities that hide behind the statistics of failed relationships. I see people who believe that dating is limited to only someone that exists inside their circle of familiarity. I see individuals who view dating as too much trouble and not enough time to pursue after a day in the office. I see others who believe they must know everything about a person before the thought of a date becomes a reality. They all come to see me because they yearn for social vitality.
As a therapist, one of the top questions I’m frequently asked is, which method of dating is better? Is online dating versus meeting someone offline best to find the perfect date or someone to spend the rest of your life with? I believe the answer is clear, there is no one-size fits all formula. Online or Internet dating is a dating experience that allows individuals to contact and communicate with one another over the Internet. This experience is usually tied to the objective of finding and developing a satisfying relationship.
I should point out, however, that not all in the dating world are seeking satisfying relationships, some are in the proverbial game for all the wrong reasons – and they lie. Online or traditional dating come with the reality of hidden agendas and deception, isn’t it up to each of us to ferret out what is real and what is fiction? Whether pursuing on-line or traditional dating, the idea of seeking a satisfying relationship rooted in safety, certainty and security while at the same time desiring the adventure, mystery and novelty that a new person can bring is a paradox. It is a puzzle that’s not an either-or situation, but one where you can get the benefits of each while also recognizing the limitations of each.
Online dating services usually provide unmoderated matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones. It has quickly become the most popular way to discover that special someone, and find a satisfying relationship to nurture. Online dating can be described as an archeological field trip – you never know whom you’ll meet or what you’ll find. Online dating provides a layer of protection not found in traditional dating since you don’t have to physically meet the individual until you are completely comfortable and secure in your interactions. For added personal security in online dating, be careful not to share personal contact information until you’re comfortable with the person’s character. Furthermore, if you decide to meet, make the initial date in a public place like a restaurant or cafe before opting for something more intimate. The same basic rules apply in traditional dating scenarios, especially if the person is someone you met at a bar or someone with no shared social connections.
Recently, I heard some say; “what a dumb way to date. Church, school, businesses, the grocery store, get-togethers with family and friends, standing in lines, coffee shops, bookstores, social gatherings, at sporting events, at the beach, at the gym, walking the dog – there are an unlimited number of far better ways of meeting people.” There are people who don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers in public, and there are plenty of people who don’t bother, because they assume most attractive people are involved with someone else. That is one of my main points: online dating allows you to filter, screen, take it slow, look for red flags, connect with society, eliminate boredom and isolation and get connected again. You can be the voyeur and see who’s single, has common interests, common beliefs, goals, before you ever ‘approach’ them. I see society as too busy, too stressed, too involved in work and too tired to get out and find a date the traditional way.
Traditional dating can be a scheduling problem and difficult to manage, with online access one can better prioritize and utilize organizational skills easier because access is always just a click away (available 24/7). I often help individuals understand that communication problems can be improved by verbally expressing precisely what you want or expect from another person. What a better way to express expectations and wants than through a virtual connection that offers a forum of free expression with added safety. Maybe it’s safe to say that online dating can help reconcile the human need for security and stability, which propels us toward the search for satisfying relationships. If you have contempt for online dating, I’m thinking you may have had an overwhelmingly bad experience or no experience with it at all. Remember, the simple fact for most people is that a significant amount of communication is done electronically. Online dating and chatting strangers up at bars, banks, grocery stores, etc., aren’t mutually exclusive.
Whether creating an Internet dating profile leads you to marriage or not, searching for love online can be part of your dating regime, just like finding a job online from a message board or Linkedin can help you find your dream job. Do you think the online dating profile sounds too good to be true? There’s reason to be suspect: Some people are dishonest, in day to day living as well as on dating sites. Both sexes tell tall tales about height, lighten the reality of their respective weight and hold on to their youth by underestimating their age while inflating their income to embellish themselves. The beauty of all of these facets of the human element is that there’s plenty of time for the other person to “size” you up once a face-to-face meeting happens. People will know on the first date that your photographs were the single most deceptive element of your online profile. You’re not going to win over someone by lying, in other words, online dating isn’t any different than meeting someone the traditional way, eventually the truth will be discovered.
In our world of instant communication, we tend to supplement our relationships with an assortment of technological devices in the hope that all these gizmos will strengthen our connection to others. This social frenzy seems to mask a profound hunger for human contact. If you truly think about the reality of it all, isn’t it true that meeting someone online to a certain extent is really no different than meeting the person in the ‘real world’, you are still using texting, email, facebook, and other online media to court and communicate with them.
Think of online dating as an opportunity to set aside your outdated expectations, embrace a new mindset, think about welcoming this new era, and see every encounter as a potential moment for romantic sparks and excitement. In the words of Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Many couples you encounter these days will tell you, with a smile, we met online!