So… What Do You Look Like?
How many of you have met someone online and began dating them, either through a site dedicated to matching people romantically or by chance on a social networking site? We’ve gone from the days of posting “a/s/l” upon entering AOL chatrooms to laying our heart in the hands of Match.com or befriending that random hottie on Facebook in the hopes of some future conversation. The internet opens up the entire world to those looking to get lucky in love. You don’t need to look your best so long as you have a photographic evidence of when you did to put on display. You’re not limited by time or distance and the fear of rejection is limited due to the absence of face to face communication. It’s also much easier to communicate via text than it is trying to talk in person, especially when you’re nervous about making a great impression.
Online dating is full of downsides as well, as anyone who’s tried it should know. The disappointment of meeting someone from the first time only to discover their profile picture was from at least 20 years or 20 pounds ago. I can recall two times in my days before driving that I met a guy from AOL at the mall; both times I caught a glimpse and bolted in the other direction. There is the anger you feel when you find out they lied about their job or living situation; unemployed and living with mom isn’t that sexy. There’s the betrayal you feel when they admit they’re married or finding out through an angry call you receive from their wife. You can be whoever you want to be online and even sites that verify information can’t truly guarantee you that you’ll be getting what’s advertised.
I met my husband online on a site called NewBlog and our friendship carried over into the wondrous world of MySpace, resulting in a move to AOL Instant Messenger, then to text messages and phone calls, and finally to where we are now. For me, online dating scored me the man of my dreams, but it is not the end all, it’s just one option among many we have to meet people. It’s the most convenient but that doesn’t translate to meaning it’s the easiest. I don’t see it as any better or worse than searching for a date at a bar, between classes at school, at a concert or festival, or through friends just to name a few. I’m not a believer in one person for everyone and the universe bringing you together through fate, but I do believe that finding love does have a lot to do with chance and luck; being in the right place during the right time and keeping your eyes and heart open.
With dating in general you need to be open and honest, but this becomes even more important when searching for a date online. It’s difficult to hide your quirks in person and near impossible to lie about your appearance unless you’re extremely skilled with makeup and prosthetics. You can also partially judge a person’s financial situation by their clothing, car, and how much or little they spend while you’re out. These things and others obvious in person tend to vanish when the computer screen comes between the two of you. It’s a struggle to know whether or not they are being honest and often also for you to decide if you should be honest or embellish things to make yourself more attractive.
With dating of any kind comes the risk of unfaithfulness. The single person has the world at their fingertips when they grab their laptop, but so does the married crowd. There are many websites dedicated to online cheaters, especially those on Facebook. Sites like this connect you not only with old friends from school or former places you’ve lived, but also with millions of other people. The curiosity to search for an ex from years ago or to finally say something to your old crush can be too tempting for some to resist. What can begin as an innocent exchange of words can soon escalate into flirtation and eventually crossing the line, be it with a meeting or phone sex or the simple yet painful betrayal of exchanging words that your significant other deems inappropriate.
The casual dater can be much worse than those in committed relationships; they either have the freedom or feel entitled to keep their options wide open and seek out as many people as their heart desires. I’ve had so many friends discover that the guy or girl they had a date with a few days ago is trolling Facebook or Twitter in search of a hot piece of ass, their pages flooded with words from girls with cleavage pictures or shirtless guys. And why shouldn’t they? It’s right there, available in a few clicks. There’s no shortage of people selling their sexed up image and no shortage of people who eat it up.
If you are planning to give online dating a try, or maybe just another chance after being let down by it earlier in life, please keep a few things in mind:
BE YOURSELF! Embrace your nerdy side, your sports obsession, your addiction to shopping, whatever it is that makes you the person you are and be proud of it. Things shouldn’t be hidden away to impress anyone and won’t stay hidden in the long run anyway. You don’t have to like the same kind of music to be compatible; it’s fun to introduce each other to things you love individually and have fun finding common ground together.
BE REALISTIC! The commercials on TV with the cute as can be couple from Match.com isn’t a guarantee of what their service provides. You may have that kind of luck, but you may also have bad luck or none at all. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen; people aren’t compatible and those who are don’t find each other. Go into it wanting to succeed but don’t get down on yourself if you don’t get the results you expected.
BE HONEST! Don’t hide the fact that you have a kid, have an embarrassing job, or have a crazy relative you help care for. If you’re truly interested in someone, it’s better to air out this kind of dirt early on. Also, don’t fib about your appearance! They’re going to find out what you look like eventually. If you can’t pass as a busty blonde or a Ryan Reynolds look-alike in person, don’t advertise yourself as that online.
BE CAREFUL! Keep your eyes open and be aware of what your interest is doing when they’re not talking to you. If you pursue a guy who has online friends who resemble porn stars, don’t expect him to drop them just because you’re now in the picture. Don’t be a stalker, but look for warning signs of infidelity, addictions, bad habits, etc. It’s better to spot a chronic liar or habitual partier and wild child early on and cut ties than it is to realize it down the road when you’re already emotionally invested.
BE AGGRESSIVE! Don’t sit on your ass hoping that your super cute photo gets you noticed. Say something, or rather type something. Had I just admired my husband’s picture on his blog, I wouldn’t be married right now. Rejection for you is just the other person’s loss, don’t be afraid of it.
BE ACTIVE! Online dating is great, but nothing can stand in for the real thing. Don’t spent too much time surfing the web. Get off your ass and get out there and make something happen!