We’ve all been there: his profile looks good, the pictures are hot, and his information is intriguing. After sorting through eight million profiles of unattractive potentials – you find one that could be a diamond in the rough. A possible match. A mate. Or at least – a great first date that might lead to something.
His profile fits what you are searching for, and you are feeling green lights all the way. You pull out all the stops getting ready. The legs are shaved, the hair is done, the outfit is sexy and the high heels are bangin’. You show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready feel that first date frisson of excitement and hope.
And then you meet him.
Fantasy is replaced by reality, and the result is often disappointing. Call it the curse of the optimist – or the bane of online dating – but the inconsistencies between profile and person are often vast. It seems like everyone uses photos of themselves that are younger, thinner and fitter. Men’s profile pics are packed with puppies, kittens, babies and jaw-dropping scenery. Women’s profiles are littered with the elements of a laid-back life, showcasing a low-maintenance babe with cool-girl beer bottles and food porn. Everyone has a ton of friends, travels to amazing places, and is the very best version of themselves – online.
Inflated expectations almost always lead to disappointment. While online dating profiles can look perfect – humans never are. Meeting someone online before you meet them in person (vs. just meeting them in person to begin with) sets the stage for a letdown – particularly for optimists who are looking for a long-term, real-deal relationship.
Instead of evaluating a person based on their body language, tone of voice and mutual chemistry – online daters are judging potential mates by their photo-shopped images, clever writing prowess, and favorite TV shows. Despite the detailed information, online profiles are inherently vague and mysterious – so the hopeful romantic fills in the blanks with his or her ideal mate. You know what you are looking for, and you want to find a good match. Your brain automatically completes the picture with a fantasy, and when you meet the reality – the truth sets in. And it can hurt.
So what’s an online dater to do?
First, realize that online dating is a lot like “real world” dating – meeting a great match is difficult and time consuming. It’s inevitable that you will experience many “meh” dates and some downright horrible ones, so just enjoy the ride as much as possible. Don’t invest too much time connecting online before you meet face to face. And before you show up for a date, ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself about this person vs. what the facts really are.
Don’t ever lose your optimism or hope, but learn to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality if you want to find real love.