Online Dating: What It Is, What It Isn't
The other day, someone took to my Formspring account and asked me the following question:
Have you done online dating? Would you?
In my original reply, I said I have never done online dating, but online courting is acceptable, which some might say is only half answering the question. I didn’t really answer the second question, whether or not I would do online dating, but here’s my answer.
No. Not right now.
Here’s my reason.
There is a fine line between online dating and getting involved with a person I meet online, online courting if you will. Have I ever met someone online first, then carried on in a relationship of some sorts with them in real life? Absolutely. No shame here. It’s happened to me a couple of times throughout my young dating life. But have I ever joined a dating website like Match.com and Eharmony.com in search of a companion, or at the very least, a great date? Hell no.
And therein lies the difference: Dating someone I met online, is a result of being social on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, more of an accident or side effect. Online dating, to me, is joining online dating services and social networking websites with the sole purpose of finding a perfect match.
Just last year, I dated a girl who I met online first. She followed me on Twitter, and would respond with things I tweeted, which caught my attention. I also noticed she followed quite a few people I knew in real life, who as it turned out, were also her real life friends. She also didn’t live but a couple of subway stops away from me. We asked our mutual friends about one another, then started exchanging emails, then decided to meet in person. Pretty soon, we started doing everything else in person too. Then, when people would ask us how we met, I’d immediately answer, “The Internet, of course!”
She hated that.
Eventually we agreed to say we met through mutual friends, which was partly true. In her opinion, and to some degree mine, it was still taboo to say we met someone online. Especially because she was a woman who didn’t need to resort to such tactics to get a date or a man, and modesty aside, I’m not the kind of guy who needs to either. We both had healthy social lives and healthy social skills, with enough charm and good looks to snatch up someone on a subway, sidewalk, or any other public domain. But here we were, two charming, good looking people, who met each other on the Internet.
Now more than ever, we can find charming, good looking people on the Internet in spades, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I pay quite a bit attention to those of the female variety. This is not to say I lurk online in search of a soul mate. Hardly the case. This is just to say, I’m not blind and I’m not anti-social online. I notice pictures on Facebook, I’ve gotten into my fair share of back and forth DM exchanges (Twitter speak for Direct Messages) with a cutie I follow.
But I also go out, flirt and meet girls in real life. My experience in the face-to-face arena is vast enough to make me feel comfortable with embracing the idea that yes, I absolutely have met a few girls on the Internet first, then got involved with them second. And anyone who is confident enough in their abilities to meet someone offline will not shy away from this fact as it applies to them.
Of course, there are those who take to the Internet to meet someone like it was their only option. Plan A is Eharmony.com, Plan B is Match.com, Plan C is Chemistry.com, Plan Z is a tie for Blackplanet and Friendster, etc. These people are special, and a little different than someone like me whose Plan A is always a real life social setting.
Online dating is for those who are tired of the rat race of real-life dating. They groom their website profiles to attract the opposite sex. They want everyone to know their likes and dislikes, and what they seek in an ideal mate. They put up the best pictures of themselves, and maybe even take pictures solely for the purpose of looking good online. They manufacture themselves, not to meet a bunch of people, but to meet that one special person they can grow old with, if they’re not old already.
I don’t manufacture myself online, so much as I curate myself. I am deliberate about what I share about myself online, but not so I can seem perfect or ideal. What’s important to me is my online presence accurately reflects who I really am, because if I do meet someone in real life after first meeting them online, I don’t want them to ever say I wasn’t as charming or good looking as they thought.