“Been there; done that.” A great expression. “Let’s not and say we never did it?” A little tweak on another great expression. “It’s all fun and games until someone uses a fallopian tube!” Good words to live by. Ok, I’ve already digressed from this Rant and I haven’t even started it yet. The title says Internet Dating, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is that I’ve done it already, long before the Internet was trendy and certainly long before services like Match.com or Lavalife were around, that’s for certain. Does it work? It can… it depends on what’s involved and how much the people want to work at their relationship; sound familiar? It should – it’s what’s required to make any relationship work in the first place.
So what’s my point? Well, I figure that if you’ve never dated someone from online, or if you have unsuccessfully, you could use some learned insight about what you can expect. The first myth I feel I have to dispel is that you’ll meet a psycho-rapist-killer from online. I mean hell, you might, but the odds of you getting hooked up with a bad person from online are the same odds you have from picking up someone at a bar. The only “moderately safe” way to meet people, to weed out the psycho-types, is via a friend or family. Of course that opens up a whole other set of issues, including my personal favorite: “Why don’t you like her???” but that’s the only “safe” way to meet someone. It’s called pre-screening, and you rare get to able to do that in a bar given the short amount of time before last call (2am) in our lovely state. So that’s the first thing to know – idiots are everywhere and you can meet them through various means, so don’t go blaming online!
One of the benefits of online dating is the fact that you’re looking at a screen (and not a human), so you have the propensity to be more honest or more open, then you might be in person. This can work for you, in that you might get to know more about a person faster, given the lack of eye contact. It never mattered to me as I’m the ignorant sort of person that will say something to you online or in person without hesitation; I’m working on that b/c it can be a destructive thing, to always be honest. Having said that, one of the drawbacks to this is that people have the ability to lie easier too; there’s no face to watch for expressions or reactions. There’s also the “lag” time that a person can think about what to say, which is something I should take advantage of! For most people this means that they can calculate a very specific or well thought out response to someone… this is both good and bad at the same time. But lets think about it – how many women have been hit on by a married man (with a ring showing) in a bar? Or how many times have you instinctively not wanted to be with someone, because the first time you saw them, you said “EW” about something you saw? It’s just human nature! Online, with an honest partner, you at least get the ability to get to know them from a mental aspect instead of just “WOW, look at the casabas/package on her/him!”
A definite drawback to the whole online dating scene comes into the locations of the people involved. It’s a big world out there, but virtually, it’s smaller than it used to be; chat and e-mail run all over the world now. My advice to you is to stay local! Don’t go for the 3000 mile away partner! Could you see yourself dating someone that happened to be vacationing near you and at the end of the week or two s/he tells you “Hey, yer great and we’re soul mates, so come live near me!” and you actually going? It’s just not likely. I mean if you have a life that is easily movable, it’s not so bad, but speaking for myself, I’m usually engrained into where I’m living. Even things like my own company information would have to change, etc., and while it’s just logistical, it’s still the facts of having to move. So while it’s a great fantasy, and a wonderfully romantic story… it’s just not “healthy”. Scientifically, they say moving is one of the top three stresses, with marriage and job changes. For me, I have a 50 mile dating limit. Anything beyond that, and it becomes a long distance relationship (LDR) and all the problems that go with that. Some people can make it work, but I figure it’s only one in ten. From my own experiences in my last LDR, if we saw each other, there were very few problems, but whenever we were away from each other for more than a week at a time, we would fight for the next week. Love is grand, but we live in a world that offers no limit to the problems that you can be flung at you; why make things harder on yourself, if it can be avoided?
Another drawback to searching online for a partner, or combing the personal ads with e-mail, is the simple fact that you don’t get the whole “package” of a person while chatting them up. No vocal inflections to comments; sarcasm can be easily inferred or missed by accident. No physical inflections to express, well, anything that physical expressions show – key for Italian chatters! What happens while chatting is that your mind automatically fills in the blanks; sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly. So you get a good and vivid picture of how this person actually acts and talks in your mind; when you meet them In Real Life (IRL), it’s never a completely accurate picture of what you envisioned so you have some feelings of “Awww” and disappointment and sometimes even frustration because that person isn’t living up to your pre-conceived notion of who you thought they should be. And this is a huge problem. A pre-conceived notion of anything, be it the physical, mental, or emotional aspects of a person, can kill any relationship in short order. It’s just our human nature. If a woman starts to date a guy and she wants kids, but doesn’t ask the guy, and she assumes (quite naturally, mind you, even though it is foolish not to ask) that he wants kids too. If they get serious without talking about it and she later learns that the guy is anti-child… how does she feel? Hurt, mislead, and disappointed. That is how a pre-conceived notion can kill any relationship; it’s that simple. Online chatting just seems to lend itself to presenting holes in personas that we fill in with our own minds; just stay open minded about a person until you meet them!
Any which way you look at it, once you meet a person online, and you start dating IRL, get offline! My reasons for this are two-fold. To truly know someone you have to know them and not the “online them” and that means interaction IRL. It is in your best interest to do this too, because (again speaking for myself) real sex is a hell of a lot better than anything you could term as cybersex. Virtual nookie is way over hyped; IRL dating is always required for a successful relationship! The other reason why I say it’s required to go offline is because of the natural gossipy environment of a chat room. They are worse than any soap opera you could imagine; I’ve been chatting for over 1 1/2 decades – I’ve just about seen it all and even I am still amazed by some things that people can do to each other. These people can impact your relationship; getting offline means that only other people IRL (who are the people that count) can effect your relationship and that’s how the world works.
Ok, so you found someone that you want to meet IRL… how should you approach this? This is very simple – using simple common sense – meet in a public place. Meet where there’s always other people. Do not give up sex on the first date, unless you want a relationship based solely on sex or a one night stand – that’s just more common sense and has nothing to do with online dating, really. Personally, I usually say go with a “Coffee-house date” the first time out because you can get away easily and it’s not the whole night, if the person is nothing what you hoped s/he would be. Dinner is a long thing and a bit over ambitious for a first time meeting. A movie is ridiculous because you can’t talk during it! Hence the coffee house. Speaking from my own experience, it was really easy to get out of one of these when properly motivated. After an hour of conversation, I was off like a promdress in a No-Tell Motel on the Berlin Turnpike. Included in that conversation was how this particular woman had been on a prior Internet date and it didn’t go well. What followed forced me to make a hasty exit, before she could rough me up – no joke. And yes, I have still given online dating another shot b/c as I’ve said before, people like this are everywhere. I could have picked her up in line at a local food store or from who knows where. At least online, I can see if they’re an NRA member ahead of time.
More or less, online dating has it’s pros and it’s cons; as with all things, its got its trade-offs. And I’m not saying it can’t work; what I am saying is that it’s just as much a long shot as meeting someone off the street. One woman that I’ve met from online has become one of my best friends and I feel like I’ve become a member of her family; I was the Man of Honor at her wedding this past year, in fact. It was just the luck of the draw that we only got to know each other from online, but since we’ve very much alike it all worked out and a great friendship was formed. Given the amount of people in the world and all the random acts of chaos out there, I’m a firm believer in meeting people however you can; if you think the person is right for you, then you have to work at it. If you’ve met someone online, then that’s how you happened to meet them; what you do with your relationship after that is what’s important, so you need to work at that to make it real and healthy.
Oh and good luck out there… if your curious, I’m going out to the local bar now to chat up some women…