Online dating may work out well for some, but for so many others it eats into their time, emotional energy and self-confidence. I am no man-basher, but it appears that too many men are treating online dating sites like supermarkets. They are popping things (women or other men) into their trolley, whilst continuing to browse and keeping their options open. Because they haven’t yet committed to actually purchasing the items in the trolley, they feel free to put them back on the shelf and choose something else, as the mood takes them… which it often does. I am sure that there are women who behave in the same way, but it does seem to be more of a masculine habit.
And there are too many looking for friendship, rather than love. They start off well, chatting, sharing their history, discovering mutual interests… but it never really develops any further. And they collect a whole load of ‘friends’, whilst making no real effort to develop one particular friendship into something more emotionally intimate. But the friend-gatherer is rarely honest, and implies that a relationship could develop, whilst continuing to communicate with a number of other interested parties… leaving a hopeful innocent caught on the hook. We could say, “more fool them”, but it isn’t always that simple.
Online dating sites are a bit like X Factor. People have become programmed: “how else am I going to be able to meet a partner? I never go anywhere”, is the same as “This is my ONLY chance for success… if I don’t win I will be devastated!” Neither statement is accurate, and both are incredibly self-limiting.
There were no dating sites when I was younger, only a small number of dating agencies, which were run from offices. There were reams of forms to be filled in, video recordings to make… and vetting. Well, that’s how I understand it, anyway.
And then life moved on, and adverts for telephone lines appeared in newspapers. You would call the number, listen to a selection of recorded messages from lonely hopefuls, choose the one you liked the sound of, and leave your message and number… and then wait with, baited breath, for them to call you – the new and exciting way to meet the love of your life. And I did use this service, but I did not find the love of my life. I found a chubby policeman who helped me move from one flat to another, and guzzled copious amounts of pizza at a rapid rate of knots. I met a weird guy I quickly found an excuse to escape from, who followed me to a club and hurled abuse at me (in fairness I could kind of understand his hurt feelings). I can’t remember who else I met, but suffice to say it didn’t open up a whole world of romance and passion.
Fast forward to the current time: online dating now provides for those who are lazy, those who have commitment issues, those who are pretending to be what they would love to be but aren’t, and those who feel empowered when they have a string of interested parties unknowingly on the hook, with a place to operate from. And the open hearted, genuine seekers of love, who are not natural game players, can be easily fooled, because they aren’t game players. It is true that some game players are obvious, and that some ‘victims’ are seemingly blind and silly… but the seasoned game player can be incredibly difficult to spot, at least until much time and emotional energy has been wasted.
The world of online dating has, for some unfortunates, become an almost permanent place of residence. They are spending hour after hour trawling the depths, and chatting to people they are never going to meet, becoming increasingly caught up in a fantasy of idealistic love… and that in itself can be hugely seductive. On more than one occasion women have informed me that a guy they have been chatting to online and via the phone, but have never met in ‘real’ everyday life, is their soulmate. Maybe they don’t even really want it to develop any further, deep down inside… maybe a real relationship, with all of the normal highs and lows, the love and the blood, sweat and tears, is too big to actually enter into. Maybe they feel safer where they are. They say that we should never meet our heroes – and maybe we can add to that that we should never come face to face with our fantasy!
But for those who just want to meet someone sane and relatively emotionally healthy, who isn’t into game playing and time wasting, the world of online dating can prove to be confusing and frustrating. I have come to understand that men communicate their truth through their actions, rather than their words, which is incredibly important to remember, as a woman using online dating sites.
He may be an amazing listener, he may promise the world, and speak of love and adoration… but where is he, in normal, everyday life? How much genuine effort is he making towards the development of the relationship, in a real sense? If he is so far away that it would cost hundreds of pounds/dollars to meet up, and if both parties don’t have that kind of cash to throw around, the relationship is unlikely to develop into an actual relationship with long-term potential. If it is the woman who is making all of the plans, finding the means to travel to him, and is doing most of the actual, physical and practical running (not just the talking and promise-making), a warning bell should be ringing, loud and long. Feeling desired, appreciated and validated is a powerful aphrodisiac, and once we have had a taste, it can be hard to let go of… even when the evidence screams that we should.
Online dating sites have worked well for many people, and they do have their place in the modern world. But they should be approached with caution, and used with common sense – as a potentially useful tool, rather than a replacement for real life.
And, those who use them need to be able to read between the lines, separating idealistic chit-chat from a genuinely developing connection; if we feel we have been developing a meaningful line of communication, with the potential to go further, but then find that our love interest is continuing to be active on the dating sites, we need to seriously reconsider our position. Better to recognise it now, for what it is, than many wasted months down the line! Don’t become stuck, and never become closed to the idea that you could meet someone really great, some place other than an online dating site!
p.s. A customer informed me, a few months ago, that I was being labelled as a ‘man hater’, by the ‘crazies’ (her words, not mine!), on an online forum. I laughed out loud when I read her email… I like men (as a biker, I have associated with quite a few of them). However, many of my customers are women, and a high percentage of those have questions/problems relating to their love lives – and issues with online dating crop up on a fairly consistent basis. Hence the blog, not a hatred of the male gender!