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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

Online Dating
Fantasy or Reality?

I was recently talking to a friend who had ventured into the world of online dating, but had taken a different approach.  Her site of choice was “Ok Cupid,” a free dating site where you can post a profile and then answer questions at your own pace and it tells you how good a match someone would be for you.  You can search in any area you would like.  For her, it was the most convenient and seemed to make the most sense.


She searched right in her town and found someone who had the same interests and what most appealed to her was that they both put their favorite kind of beer, and, ta-da!  It was the same!  So she wrote him a message and said, “Listen.  We live 10 minutes away from each other.  Instead of writing back and forth for however long, why don’t we meet over our favorite beer, talk, and see if we like each other.  And if at any point you want to leave, that’s fine.  I won’t be mad.  I might be curious, but I won’t be mad.”

He responded rather quickly and said he was definitely up for going out, so they did.  But not for beer, for coffee.  And four hours later, they were on the same cup.  And neither walked out on the other.  Several dates later, they are still happy and seem to be a good match.

Her theory is that it seems to be a waste of time to keep emailing back and forth only then to meet and see if the person lives up to your expectations.  What if, upon meeting, then they don’t like you?  You’ve already built them up to be something, and then you’ll be disappointed.  She put her all into it and wanted to meet someone, so she used the online method to find someone with similar interests and then just went for it—she met him, and it worked.  A lucky gal.  And more so, a very lucky guy.

But she does have a point.  How often do people get stuck in the mode of online communication with someone and then meet to find that it’s not all they hoped for?  The fantasy is better than the reality.  Many online dating sites have you go through several steps of e-communication first.  By answering questions and exchanging emails, yes, you get to know the other person better, but you can get caught up in that idea.  One email leads to another, and soon, you’re giggling over what he said in that second paragraph in email #48.  What a riot!

But it can be a little addicting, and, misleading.  Racing into your house to see if Mr. Hotmail has sent you a message, then clutching the computer to read how his day was as he divulges all the little details of his life, and then asks you to share the little intimacies of your day.  How thoughtful!  How kind!  He’s too cute…he could be “the one.”  So you respond, and then he responds, and again, and again.  And pretty soon, you have a stack of emails built up that could compete with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail.”

But if you want anything to happen—you have to meet.  This isn’t a game, this is life.  It isn’t just “online” dating, but it’s dating.  The online part is where you first “meet,” but the dating part is supposed to take place away from the computer.  You should utilize the email for the quick “getting to know you” and see if there might be some commonalities—something that clicks and shows you that you might be able to hold a conversation with this guy at least over a cup of coffee.  Once you’ve established that you want to spend some time with him, then set a date.  When you meet, that is when the magic should happen.  Not over a plethora of emails.

The emailing can be fun at first, especially getting that first message from someone who caught your eye.  But you don’t want to build the person up so much that when you finally meet the “real” person, you wish he were like the “guy in the email.”  Because he is the guy in the email.  He’s the real thing.  If you email too much, you start imagining things about this person by the little things they say, but what you really need to do is hear what they have to say.  The best way to get to know someone is to spend time with them.

Fantasy is fun, but won’t take you very far.  The reality is where the real magic exists.            

Related Links:
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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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