More and more people these days are finding love online be it due to time constraints, unsociable working hours or simply the death of the community, but one thing is for sure, this is the fastest growing way to meet potential partners, however it has it’s pitfalls. Whilst online dating agencies may offer a quick way to meeting these partners, Instant Messaging using programs such as ICQ, MSN, or Odigo offer a lightning speed way of getting very intimate, very quickly. It is so quick because you can be just who you want to be when you are chatting online, no one will see you blush if you say something wrong and most importantly, it allows you to take risks that you would never dream of taking in the real world. The most powerful aspect of this all though is that we paint our own picture in our minds of what the other person is without all those non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and mannerisms that subconsciously in the real world tell us valuable things about the person. In short, with our own beautifully created perception of the person, fall for them. So why do we as intelligent human beings end up falling for people we have never even met before? The answer is simple we want to be in love, we so want to tell ourselves that the searching for our soul mate is over and with that we picture our lives in a blissful sea of coupledom, sharing our lives together. Sadly it is this haste to end our single lives that can lead to disappointment as quickly as it started.
Sooner or later the question of actually meeting in person will come up and whilst many people would say it’s better to take your time and let the online relationship develop, I strongly believe that the sooner you do it, the better. If you leave it too long, then the impression you have built up of this person will be so deep rooted that your expectations will be far too high and you will be set for disappointment. The other point is if you have been a lot more confident chatting than you would be in real life, how are you going to be able to keep up that persona? You may end up competing with yourself. So assuming that you are both happy with the length of time the romance has been going on for and you decide to meet, what will it be like? It will be quite strange to begin with. You may find that although you have been up most nights until 5 in the morning chatting, you find it hard to talk about things in the flesh. This is perfectly natural as the two of you are having to almost re-learn the parameters of the relationship and digest the visual cues that our mannerisms and facial expressions provide. It will be a nerve racking time as we have to decide there and then if these mannerisms and even physical odours are compatible with us. If you can pass that first test, then things get a lot easier. Do however be very careful if you are traveling abroad to meet someone because if things fail at this first hurdle, then you are totally stuck on your own in a foreign country.
Passed first base, what next?
Having gone through this initial nerve racking first meeting, there is often a huge temptation to revert back to an ‘online relationship’ as it feels so much more comfortable, but I cannot stress enough to resist that temptation. Slip back into the old online chatting routine and the online persona won’t die. The transition from online to offline relationship can be extremely difficult but at all costs, you must get to know the real person from a new offline perspective and kill off any false impressions you may have had about them online. Going back to the online chatting routine may make you feel all warm and fuzzy again, but it can be an unrealistic perception of who the person really is.
This all may seem a little negative and in some cases may not even apply, but overall, forewarned is forearmed. There are of course many people who have made a success of their relationship by Instant Messaging and some are even married now but it really pays to be aware of how feelings can be distorted by the shield of an anonymous nickname and a computer monitor.