I want to say at the outset that until I meet someone in person I question pretty much all assumptions I may form based on how they appear and interact online. With that said…
Over the last couple of years I have observed some odd behavior in the online dating world. I’m not talking about bizarre individuals or specific cases – I’ve come across some real doozies that I will share separately here over the coming weeks – I’m talking about trends that are probably part of the dating world in general but, I think, are much more prevalent in the online dating world.
My sense is that many people who are online dating suffer from a perception of plenty…and that it’s a false perception. Henceforth, I shall refer to it as F.P.P. (with all due respect to Naughty by Nature!).
Sure, there are thousands of potential “matches” out there but how many of them turn out to be a good fit for where you are in your life? I think the answer is twofold.
First, we probably cross paths with very few people who are the right fit. A lot of things have to line up for a relationship to start and even more for it to last: physical chemistry, emotional availability, intellectual compatibility, political perspectives, financial habits, goals and priorities….the list goes on. In effect, this means the dating “pool” is certainly large but the number of people you want to swim with is much less so.
And second, I think F.P.P. can make people lazy. They don’t put in the effort because they think there are a dozen more matches around the corner. Here are a few questions to ponder: How many “matches” are in your queue? How many of them do you actually plan to meet in person? How many of them will you take the time to get to know? How many chances do you give someone before you unmatch? The how of unmatching is a future topic.
In sum, a smaller dating pool than we think there may be, combined F.P.P., means that we are more likely to dismiss potential connections and sabotage our chances of making said connections. To combat this phenomenon, here’s what I do: assuming there’s an initial attraction based on almost nothing more than a picture or two and a few words, I want to have some kind of dialogue online. If there are no obvious red flags, I want to meet in person sooner rather than later, for many reasons that barely seem worth explaining before meeting. It’s a hard balance to strike. I’m also mindful of the very real (and justifiable) safety measures people (especially women) should be deploying. Safety is yet another future topic here.
There is no doubt that a lot of people seem to be playing games for one reason or another and that can be disheartening enough to make me want to quit altogether. Why don’t I? I think we are social animals and I think relationships (not just romantic and/or sexual ones) are part of how we figure out who we are and who we want to be.