After ten years and millions of marriages, couples who met online are starting to divorce. Skeptics worry about the effect this will have on the online dating industry – some even want to blame them for the break-ups. But it seems like all the worry and blaming is a little silly. We all enter into situations as adults, and at the end of the day, no matter how you met your mate, you’ve got to have the relationship skills to make it work. It’s that simple.
But, any seasoned dater knows, it is not that simple at all. Dating is complex. What we share, when we share it, and with whom are all key components of romantic success – on and off line. The Internet is just one added element, and with it comes both positives and negatives.
Online daters expect a little more from their perspective mates – sometimes too much more. Honesty is always the best policy – but is complete disclosure necessary before you’ve even had dinner? After all, whether you’re in front of a computer or at a dinner table, we’re all just human. Human nature dictates that most of us want to actually know (and trust!) a person before we start sharing our entire life stories!
There are various explanations for all the demanding online daters. Number one being misrepresentation – in picture and in words. Sure, meeting someone online poses a unique set of pitfalls. Without facial expression and tone of voice to accompany emails, daters are doing a lot of filling in the blanks. And it’s easier to lie online than it is face to face – for some people. However, time has proven that deception exists regardless of the dating scenario. Is it the responsibility of the dating sites to make sure that you and the person you meet are 100% compatible? Such expectations assume there’s even such a thing as 100% compatibility! Even the most loving spouses disagree sometimes. Thank goodness.
It’s up to you
Like everything else in life, you have to take responsibility for your own happiness. There are no “givens.” Since online daters are more likely to be looking for something serious, they’re more likely to rush into things. But that doesn’t make them any less liable for their own words, actions or relationships.
It doesn’t matter whether you met through friends, in a bar, at the grocery store or online – the initial dating period is meant for getting to know each other and assessing compatibility as well as desire – both elements are equally important. The most compatible couple can encounter circumstances where one or the other partner loses the desire to proceed. That’s just life.
Eventually, any relationship that’s progressing has to move offline. Emails cannot take the place of face to face communication. No virtual reality is as good as the real thing. Expecting online dating to be foolproof is like expecting a magical answer to a mystery that has plagued man throughout history. Love is complicated. The best thing you can do as an online dater is take precautions.
Naturally, when choosing an online dating service, it’s important to take into account your personal needs and interests. Likewise, when communicating with prospective mates, it’s vital that you ask the important questions. If you suspect someone is lying, call them on it. Go with your gut. Even if this person seems like your perfect match, enter into things with open eyes! Only time will tell if the possibilities prove true. No website can promise you happily ever after – what they offer is an introduction to some possibilities.
Once you’ve entered the scene, don’t take anything for granted. Don’t expect that the dating site has covered ground for you (like making sure someone is emotionally available). No matter how tempting, don’t assume from email messages that you’ve met your soulmate. Before actually taking things offline and testing a relationship’s possibilities, the best you can expect is that you may be on your way to something – if you play your cards right. Remain honest and work together to develop a mutual trust – if the other person is truly committed – and if you’re genuinely as committed as you think you are.
Online dating puts you in touch with people – that’s it. It’s up to you to figure out if that person is for you. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Reputable online dating services do a certain amount of screening for you and you can always as your friends, therapists and advisors to weigh in when you’re confused.
Online dating is a foot in the door. What you do beyond that is up to you.
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