Being part of a couple seems natural, so when we find ourselves dumped, left on the shelf or just feeling a bit sad and lonely, the first thing we do is go out and look for a new mate. Okay, so maybe the men are first in the queue in that game, but gregarious is what we do as a specie and in our fast-paced and up-to-the-minute lives, we often don't want to spend hours down at the local joint eyeing-up the usual suspects.
Online dating makes everything so much easier and in a few clicks we can be in touch with beautiful people from all over the planet. There's a whole lot of difference however, between chatting up the guys and girls down at some meeting points and the virtual world of online dating.
The Internet makes connecting with other people astonishingly easy. Naturally enough we look for what we want: we gaze at the photos, the colours, the eyes, the hair, the body, the wry smile, and in doing so, we sometimes leave our sensible heads at the door. After all, if something looks nice, then it probably is nice, right?
The trouble is, while we seem to spend a huge part of our lives conversing with other people, it's usually the visual signs and signals that tick our boxes. When we meet someone new, if they're attractive, smiling, we're hooked! It doesn’t matter if this vision of loveliness will match with reality. Of course, we'll probably discover all that stuff later, but by then we've wasted a lot of time, energy and (sometimes) money. So wouldn't it be great if we knew all those things beforehand?
As we search the web for those perfect lovers, prospective partners, friends or just someone to connect with, it's incredibly easy to send a wink, scribble a quick email, or add them to our favourites, but what happens when the other person replies? What do we do then? Unfortunately, this is the point where we may well be in danger of landing ourselves with not one, but two completely different relationships. The connections we create with someone over the Internet in the privacy of our own home may turn out to be very different to the real person who emerges when we eventually meet our virtual mate. So what is it about Internet dating that makes the transition from online to reality so problematic?
There's no straightforward solution to this conundrum, but there are a few things we can do to help prevent this situation happening in the first place:
Keep it short. The time scale from the first point of contact (wink, email or whatever) to when you first meet, should be as short as possible. This keeps you focused on meeting, rather than spending time creating virtual images of each other that are several light years removed from reality. If you're both interested in meeting, make a date and stick to it.
Tell the truth. If you lie about anything, especially something significant, there'll come a time when you'll think you're in a TV soap opera and everyone knows about your sordid secrets except the love of your life. Obviously, there may be things you don't want to discuss on a first date, but if it's important, don't leave it too long. If this person is really the one for you, they'll understand.
Read well between the lines. It's easy to read all sorts of things into what people write in emails and in chat rooms, and it's also easy to misinterpret what they're saying, so be careful about what you write and if you're not sure about something your prospective date has said - ask for clarification.
See me, hear me. Video give you a much clearer idea of who this person is - what they sound like, the language they use and the way they move. It could also avoid awkwardness later on.