Match dot COM— The Perks and Pitfalls of Online Dating

By on February 1, 2013

By Rita Schulte –

You can’t wait to hear from that special person again. Your heart flutters. You feel all tingly inside. You feel like a sixteen year old in a 50 year old hormone-deprived body. You know something is happening when you look into the eyes of that special someone and fireworks start.

There’s only one problem. You’re staring at your computer screen. That’s right, you’ve entered into a new era called online dating, where the only thing staring back at you is what someone typed.

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Is that a reason to give the idea of online dating the boot? Not necessarily. Online dating is great for a lot of reasons. But it also has its pitfalls. Before you jump in, do your homework and be prepared for a different kind of ride.

Here are a few things to consider before you take the plunge and fill out that profile:

Be ready for rejection

Starting and developing an online relationship is like being in High School and wanting to date the captain of the football team when your still in braces with pimples. You have to be ready for rejection. People can click through profiles like they’ve taken an overdose of amphetamines to see who looks the hottest or who sounds the most interesting. You have to have tough skin and not take it personally. You may even meet up with people who say they had a great time going out with you, and never call you again. Heartbreak is as inevitable online as in the real world, it just moves a little faster. If you aren’t the right fit for someone on the front end, you’re gone with the click of a mouse. If that’s ok with you, click away.

Be ready for a different normal

This is a new game and the rules are different. Online dating may seem easy, you fill out a profile, they hook you up with Mr./Ms. compatible, and presto, instant romance. It doesn’t usually happen that way. The first big difference with dot com dating is that the Internet allows people to project themselves in the perfect light before they meet you. Surveys have shown that most people lie, so learn to ask the right questions and use a reputable site. If you find someone you’re interested in, meet up with the person in a public place so you can talk face to face

Communication

Because most of our communication is non-verbal (body language, eye contact, and tone of voice) it’s hard to read someone’s heart online. You can’t see that tender look in the eyes, or that come hither glance. Today’s mode of communication (texting, emailing and IM) is standard for initiating a conversation. It’s also an easy way to blow someone off if you need to. You’re also taking a chance that because someone can write sappy emails they’re great communicators—not necessarily.

Fantasy versus reality

Online relationships can take on a fantasy feel very quickly. If we’re lonely, we can easily fall prey to scammers. We can fall into seeing someone whom we know little about as our knight in shining armor without any evidence supporting that belief. Care must be taken not to move too quickly and not to idealize someone you hardly know. People can put forth all kinds of masks online. They can portray themselves as something they are not, or appear to have qualities they don’t have. A study done by BeatutifulPeople.com said that fifty-three percent of people surveyed said they lied about their online profiles

A different kind of intimacy

Online dating begins with a different kind of intimacy. You don’t really know the intentions of your potential match, so you have to be clear with them about your intentions. Because you will probably spend some time talking over email, you’ll want to learn what to look for that may indicate problems with your potential match. Be aware that some people communicate online for years before they meet.

Requires caution

As a counselor, I’ve seen many people be scammed and hurt from online dating. That’s not to say I think all online dating is bad. But be cautious; don’t arrange to meet someone for the first time unless it’s in a public place. Tell a trusted friend where you’re going. Be on the alert for someone who asks for too much personal information or money. Make sure you look closely at their profile picture too. People have been known to use fake photos. Technology is changing the face of how we do relationships— we have to decide if we want to take the chance to change with it.

Dot Com dating can be a great way for busy people to meet. It has plenty of advantages. By exercising a little caution and doing your homework on the front end of things, you can have fun and maybe even find the special someone. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do with dot com dating is bring it into the real world as soon as possible.

Back at you: Have you had any experience with online dating? If so, what advice can you give?

 

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in No. Virginia. She hosts a weekly podcast show called Heartline where she talks to the leading counselors and authors in the country about cutting edge topics affecting the lives of people today. Heartline is now airing on 90.5 FM in NC, and Rita’s 1 minute devotional spot, Consider This is airing on 90.5 FM and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, Va. Heartline will be coming to Christian Life Internet Radio in February 2012.  Follow Rita at www.siftedaswheat.com for counseling helps and to read the first chapter of her book.

About Rita Schulte

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Radio and a 1-minute feature “Consider This.” Her shows air on Alive In Christ Radio (AliveinChrist.com) Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, Kyria and LifeHack.org. She is the author of Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life, (Leafwood) and Imposter: Gain Confidence, Eradicate Shame and become who God made you to be (Siloam), follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod.

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Match dot COM— The Perks and Pitfalls of Online Dating