Online dating seems to pop up in conversation anywhere you go. Not long ago, people seemed to think that anyone you met online would be a chainsaw killer or antisocial person living in Mom’s basement. As the internet evolved, however, it started to show its value as a powerful communication tool. Today, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t at least know somebody who met a significant other online, or at very least tried online dating.
While there are tons of dating sites, I’ll admit that I’ve never been on any of them. In fact, I wasn’t even looking for “someone special” when I met the man who is now my husband. I was just playing a friendly game of poker. From the chat box in free Texas Hold ‘Em on Myspace, I got to know someone who was separated from me by geography, age, and background. Thanks to this little thing called the internet, he ended up moving to this little square in the dirt called Wyoming, acquiring a life and building a family that he never thought possible either. It’s not always this “fairy tale ending,” though. Through my own experience and through observing others, I’ve learned these five crucial lessons when it comes to dating – or, really, meeting anyone – on the internet.
People rarely tell the truth
People lie for literally thousands of different reasons. Especially when you don’t know someone very well, the knee-jerk reaction is to assume the worst. Met someone who seems a little cagy? The assumption might be that he has a wife, or she isn’t telling you about a 4-year-old kid with an attitude problem. It could just be a minor white lie because they want to impress you, or maybe it’s nothing at all. Surprisingly, it can actually be easier to spot a lie online than in person, especially if you’re both effective text communicators. Just because people rarely tell the whole truth, doesn’t mean you won’t find an honest person – and when you do, that’s definitely someone to get to know better.
Inconsistencies always reveal themselves over time
One of the biggest fears about meeting people online is that you don’t know what they’re saying, if anything, is true. The beauty of the internet is that you’re constantly talking – whenever you interact, it’s almost certainly talking in some way. Physical distractions can’t get in the way nearly as much as in person. The result is that people’s stories either flesh out and become more real, or they start to unravel. The more you talk, the more people are pushed to either be honest with you or come up with another lie. Those lies will be difficult to keep track of, and it’ll soon be obvious who is being upfront about the nature of the person behind the screen.
You always get out what both people put in
Anyone can point to a relationship that started on the internet and ended badly. They probably also know one that ended well. Of course, with an astronomical divorce rate throughout the United States, pretty much everyone knows of a relationship that started in-person and ended badly. It’s always possible. Remember that the internet is just a communication method, and doesn’t in itself define the quality of the people you’ll meet. If you’re honest about what you want and who you are, then it’s just a matter of continuing to look until someone else is honest about being a good match.
One in a million isn’t that bad of odds
If you feel like you’ll never meet someone, then the internet might be a great place to look. At one time, “one in a million” made it seem like you could look for an entire lifetime and never find the right person. Now there are billions of people on the internet, and people making themselves known in all sorts of new ways. All of a sudden, finding a really good match isn’t impossible, and it’s only slightly improbable.
It’s possible to know someone just as well online as face-to-face
My husband and I spoke online for 6 months before he moved here – the first time we met in person was the day he moved in. All my friends and family asked me if I was nervous about his arrival because, after all, “You don’t really know him.” It’s a common theme. Yes, it’s very true that you might not truly know someone you met online, but it’s equally true that you could live face-to-face with someone for years and still not know them. Relationships are about trust, regardless of where they started. A person is either going to be upfront and authentic or not – the method of communication is almost entirely irrelevant.
The most important lesson for dating, whether online or offline, is to just be yourself. Don’t pretend because you think it’ll impress the other person. If you have to pretend, they’re not the right fit. If you do pretend but didn’t need to, they may miss that you could be the right fit because you’re not showing the real you. Don’t feel pressed for time, and keep looking – you don’t have to settle. The right match is out there just waiting to be discovered.