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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating Triumphs & Tragedies > Online to Real Life

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

From Online Dating
to Real Life

“So I may not have told you this, but I actually have 12 cats, and…Fluffy.”

“Who is ‘Fluffy’?”

“My pet alligator.”

“Yikes,” you might be thinking, and rightly so.  That is one of those totally random things that can come out on a first date.  And also one of those things that might, well, completely scare you.  The cats, well, that’s another issue.  But Fluffy…you might want to talk to him about that.


The thing is, with online dating, there’s a lot you see “on paper,” that seems great. Height, personality, interests, and location—he’s all you ever could have imagined.  He’s, dare you say, “perfect.”  This is the… “Perfect Match.”  But it is on the first, or second, date that you find out those “real” things that make him who he is, and when he reveals them, how will you deal with them?

Okay, I’m not saying that I’ve ever met someone online and they revealed “Fluffy” to me.  That would have been a little extreme.  Kudos to all of you who have prevailed through that date.  But what I’m really getting at is those realistic life experiences that people might not place in their dating profiles, but that they might expose once they get to meet you and are more comfortable with you.  They aren’t bad, per se, but they are things that might affect you in a certain way and you should be prepared for.  Because, after all, everyone has a certain thing that they are looking for in a relationship, and some things, they just aren’t ready to take one.

Here’s a scenario:

You met this guy online.  Amazing.  You guys have great chemistry.  You love the same books, music, jokes, coffee shops—and in fact, you’re going to meet at one soon.  You think you could really have a connection with this guy.  You have been single for a bit, dating here and there, but really want to settle into a relationship with someone serious, and so does he.  You realize when you’re getting ready, that there are no jitters here, more excitement to meet this Mystery Man that you have been communicating with.

So…the date.  You meet.  Immediate attraction.  Why wouldn’t there be?  You order coffee, you chat, you laugh, you flirt.  “This is going somewhere,” you think.

Then he starts talking about his son.

“Time out!” you think.  “What son?”  He never mentioned that before!  Not in his profile or in your emails or anything.  And he didn’t even introduce it like, “I should tell you, I have a son.”  It was more like, “So, I was out with my son at the park…”

How do you respond to that?  Is that something you’re comfortable with?

Clearly, he is, or he wouldn’t be talking about it.  And of course he’s talking about him, it’s his son!  Chances are he’s not used to thinking of it as a “topic” he has to introduce, because it’s his child, whereas you are dating, and seeing someone with a child brings on a different element.  But you should know right away when he mentions it how comfortable you are with it.  Do you seize up?  Do you gush?  Do you want to know more about this little boy at the park?  Just because he has a son doesn’t mean he’s off the dating list.  He’s looking for love too…he’s just got a little buddy with him. 

It is tough when people don’t tell the whole truth right from the get-go, which is my personal preference, just because that’s me.  But I understand the other side completely, and how you have to introduce things slowly.  Perhaps if he were communicating with someone and said, “I’m Mike, I’m 35, I have a son…” then the person might have easily dismissed him for that reason alone, and that would have been lame.  This is a potentially great guy that she would have never gotten to have known.  Hey, it’s two great guys! 

When dating, there are lots of elements, whether it’s a child, a divorce, a pet dragon, a former addiction, or a sock fetish.  Whatever it may be, you have to realize that the person you read about is never going to be the person you meet.  But the person you meet is in fact the person you really want to see.  It’s about stepping out of your boundary and taking that chance.  Not limiting yourself.  So put aside your expectations of the guy on the page, and see what’s right in front of you.  It might be much, much better than you expect.


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

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