This past weekend, I watched episodes of “Catfish” on MTV. I saw the movie last year and I can admit that I was a little disturbed. The show follows the same format as the movie. It involves internet relationships and follows one person on the journey to meet the elusive internet partner to find out if they are who they portray themselves to be. In the movie, a young man was involved in an internet relationship with a young woman. When he ventured to meet her, he instead found that he had been talking to a 40-year old woman. He was embarrassed and he suffered the loss of a relationship that he thought existed.
The internet makes it easy to lie about who you are and it also makes it easy for the other person to believe the lie. It makes it easy to present yourself as the “perfect version” of yourself or, in the case of the show, to prevent yourself as someone else. The reality is that you have thoughts, feelings and things about you that you think may cause someone else will reject.
When you are dating in person, you may be able to hide some parts of yourself, but some of you will be revealed through your actions. On the internet, you can hide it for a year or years because the person has limited access to you. They only see you when you say they can see you, so you can throw your skeletons in the closet. It’s not to say that online dating isn’t a good way to meet someone. There are some great people online, but, as with the dating world, you should be careful not to romanticize the people who you meet. You should be just as cautious as you would have people who you meet in a bar.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy skepticism. If you meet someone, you should listen to their story, but question when something doesn’t add up in your mind. You should also ask to see them on multiple mediums. Talk to them on chat, video, and in-person. You can tell more about someone in-person than you could ever do by text message or even on skype. Meet in a public place. As with the show, I would encourage people to google anyone that they meet online to make sure that their story matches. You can also search pictures on the internet.
The reality is that when you want to be in love, you can make the mistake of making the person’s story work for you. I noticed in the show that even when confronted with evidence that suggested the facts were shaky that the women denied it and made excuses. When it comes to the internet, your default action should be skepticism. You should question everything. Why should you believe this person that you know from nothing and nowhere? If someone limits your access to them or keeps putting off meeting you, you should wonder why?
Everyone wants a fairy-tale romance, but the reality is that dating online makes it even more difficult to see the real person. They can type things that are completely contrary to their beliefs or they can hide behind an image that doesn’t accurately represent them. We all wear masks and a relationship assists in the process of shedding those masks.
“The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid. We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we’ll lose it. We fear that if we do not have love we will be unhappy.”- Richard Bach
Do you have a story or experience in online dating? Share it in comments.