Internet has become an essential part of our life. We check on news online, book trips and vacations, buy stuff, read papers and magazines and socialize and stay in contact with family and friends using all kinds of social media or instant messengers. In other words, whatever we want, it is there. And when we decide that we are feeling lonely and in need of a long term (or short term) friend or partner, we turn to different types of dating services.
Nothing wrong with it: dating sites are good, they help broaden our horizons and increase our chances of meeting a good match as our search for a life partner – or a potential boy/girlfriend – is no longer limited to our own social circle or our own little town or big city, nor even to our own country.
And it works: I personally know several married couples who first met online and now, they are very, very happy together. Of course there are scammers, unscrupulous people and criminal minds abiding on dating sites (same as everywhere else) but if you follow some simple safety rules, like, never send money to someone you only met online, or don’t fall for anyone who tells stories which are too grand or too inconsistent (like, they are a former high official of a foreign country in exile – a clear sign of a scammer!), or whose pictures look too good, or who claims they have fallen in love with you too fast, etc etc. But these safety tips have been discussed so widely that if someone doesn’t know them yet and fall into the traps scammers lay out for those people who are too naive – or too desperate for love, it’s kind of their own choice and their own fault.
Another bonus of online dating is that even when both you and your potential date live in the same city, you still have a good chance to talk and this way, learn at least something about each other before you meet in person. This is another paradox of modern society: people spend more time chatting online than they talk face to face, and if not for the internet, you’d probably not get down to discussing really important matters, like, your families, religion, future plans with your potential date any time soon. So online dating has an advantage: even before you meet in person, you can see if you really match. And make sure you don’t lose this opportunity: don’t arrange to meet too soon, before you learn at least something about your potential date – that is, unless you don’t mind wasting your time meeting someone who is totally incompatible with you. And yes, don’t forget to ask your potential date about what they are looking for: if you want a committed relationship leading to marriage, and they are not up to anything more serious than no strings attached, or vise versa, don’t waste your time either even if they look exactly your dream otherwise. It will simply not work.
If you live close enough to each other, that’s it. Mission completed, you made contract with your potential date, hopefully consider them compatible enough, now you can arrange to meet in person and proceed as normal, and good luck to you. But what if you live far away from each other? Then you’ll probably have to face some complicated and intricate issues which may lead you into a lot of psychological turmoil or even despair. How come? – let me tell you a story.
I’m not going to claim I’ve never turned to dating sites myself. We all do, from time to time, and a couple years ago I met somebody online. He sounded a good guy, intelligent, reliable and ambitious. Since we lived far away from each other, we started messaging, skyping, talking on the phone… and it looked fine, as if we had known each other for ages, all those shared values and desires, so romantic and full understanding, and we spent hours and sometime whole nights talking online about all kinds of things. So I was beginning to suspect I met the love of my life and we nearly started making life term plans. And then we met in person… It was good we only arranged for a long weekend to be spent together, because the guy who looked and sounded so great online appeared to be a total disappointment when we met in person and entirely not my type… I mean, not only no chemistry, but although we could talk for hours on Skype, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say to this stranger I saw next to me. His ways and his manners, everything seemed just wrong… or at least to me, because he seemed to feel fine. I mean, ok, I’m flexible and I can accommodate and adjust, except that, there was too much to adjust to! Well we managed to survive that long weekend somehow, but needless to say that we never met again.
This unlucky experience didn’t put me off online dating, and I didn’t lose my enthusiasm and hopes of meeting a good man online, but it also taught me a good lesson – or better say, two. First of all, when you embark on an adventure of sailing in the unsteady waters of online dating, make sure you don’t get too deeply involved with anyone you only met online and never saw in person. Talk to each other, enjoy your conversations, try to learn as much as possible about each other and consider yourself lucky if you have the feeling that you have known your date forever – but don’t, please don’t fall in love with them till you meet in person! There’s a trick our minds play on us: if we talk to someone we have never met, we create a picture, or a mental image of them in our imagination which may have nothing to do with reality. Nobody’s safe from falling into this trap, because we are empaths which means, our impression of someone we are talking to is based not only on what they say, but on how they say it, on their mimics and their body language and on what they leave unsaid. That is, when we talk to them face to face. But when we message, talk on the phone or even on camera, all those small things are missed for the most part, and we fill the gaps these missing details leave by what we imagine. So if we fall in love with someone we have never met, it’s not with the real person, but with the mental image of them created by our own brains. And of course when we meet face to face, the real person may fall short of our expectations or just be different from what we had imagined which gives rise to a lot of disappointment. And another thing: it was William Shakespeare who said, all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. It’s true: we all play lots of different roles, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes to impress somebody or to meet their expectations. Online communication is a perfect place for playing such roles: it helps create a different reality where you pretend to live, so it’s easy to act as if you are a successful businessman or a super model, or somebody else you wish to be. But when you meet your online date in person, they’ll not be able to play this role any more, and the mask they might have been wearing online will most likely fall down, and their true self will expose itself so you may choose for yourself whether you like them or not.
So, the first tip – and the first lesson to learn – is not to fall in love with someone you only met online even if you love the sound of their voice and how they look in their pictures.
The second tip directly follows from the first: don’t wait too long to meet in person.
Once you decide your date looks right for you and you are beginning to feel butterflies down your stomach when you receive their text or pick their call, this is the time you should start making arrangements to meet in person and see if this magic stays when you see each other face to face. But what if it doesn’t, you may ask? Well it may not, but at least you had a good try and you enjoyed your conversations, and then, who knows, maybe you have found a life time friend instead of a life time lover, so what? not a bad thing either! And it’s better anyways to know where you stand with this person than to waste months or even years looking forward to meeting your date face to face just to get disillusioned and disappointed when you do. Of course if you live half way round the world from each other, meeting in person may be a bit of a problem because it entails a lot of planning, travelling, sometimes visa red tape and finance, but you should start making these plans anyways, as soon as you decide you like your online date enough to take the next step and meet them in person. And what if for some reason it is unlikely you will be able to meet in the nearest future? Well then, sorry to disappoint you, but perhaps you shouldn’t waste your time online and try to look for someone living closer to you? Love conquers all, that’s true, but please see above, there can’t possibly be love before you met in person. You better look around: the love of your life may be living next door to you or just round the corner 🙂
About The Author
Barr. Yulia Kasyankova is a Russian lawyer, writer and lecturer. She has a rich background in teaching, organizing seminars, trainings and educational courses as well as in tourism and business law consulting. Her interests also include psychology, philosophy, history and literature.