I love conversation. Marathon phone calls with girlfriends, endless group texts, flirtation and general banter… all of these are right up my alley. I mean, obviously I’m all for words. I blog, work in a word-based industry, and write articles on the side. And yet there is one arena in which words simply don’t work for me and that arena is online dating. Most of my friends are shocked to hear this but once I tell them my approach, and they try it, they agree: let’s get to the face-to-face before we worry about long conversations.
Faux Intimacy Doesn’t Do It For Me
Online dating often includes an option for exchanging messages, be it email-like ones that protect some anonymity or IM-style chats. Despite my love of words and conversation these simply turn me off. Why? Because you can be anyone behind a screen. I could be a middle-aged beer-bellied man or a 17-year-old girl and you wouldn’t know. I’m not, I swear, but I could be. We forget this sometimes when it comes to online dating and get lost in the flirtatious messages and emojis. I’ve officially cut this out of my dating routine, though. And here’s why.
You Could Be Fed Your Lines
I am the ultimate wordsmith. I can decode a text in about .4 seconds and also draft the perfect response. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many times my girlfriends have handed me their phones to handle tricky texts and flirtatious banter. Am I flirting with you? Is that you tossing those gems back? Or is it your witty neighbor, an article about the best Tinder openers, or your mom? Let’s skip the questions and meet face-to-face where I can see your communication skills without a keyboard and screen between us.
When talking to someone online there is a certain ease. Online daters can hang out on a Sunday afternoon in their pajamas, drinking a mimosa with Law & Order rumbling quietly in the background. It’s easy to be at the top of your game when no one is looking. I’m better when I have a delete key at my disposal and can look at what I’ve written before hitting send. This doesn’t exist in person and I found that when I met someone after these exchanges I was so hung up on being witty when we met that I either didn’t enjoy myself or was so focused on the conversation I wasn’t really engaging with the person. There’s an expectation to be better in person so if you’re really good online you’re setting yourself up.
You’re talking to someone online and they have all the right retorts. They remember that you had a big presentation and ask about it and they also know you’re dreading going to a friend’s party where your horrible ex might show up. They also have access to this because you’ve been chatting. It’s easy to fall for someone who asks and remembers and cheer leads. But are they that good in person? Or is it part of their ruse? No, I’m not cynical; I’ve just met a few people who knew how to pitch themselves online only to fall horribly, arrogantly, flat in person.
Dating is an In-Person Activity
I’m not interested in long drawn out conversations because our relationship is going to be face-to-face. We need to be attracted to each other, to experience emotional and physical chemistry. I don’t know if the way you chew is going to drive me up a wall if we only ever communicate online. I also don’t know if you’re going to grab me and kiss me the way I need to be grabbed and kissed. Very little of our relationship is going to be conducted electronically, so why waste time before it starts. I’d rather meet, assess, and move on over enjoying your personality online only to discover that there is no spark.
Let’s Remove the Sense of Obligation
I’m very nice. It’s a good thing. It’s also a problem sometimes. If we talk online and like each other but don’t meet for a while I’m going to have a hard time telling you after a date that I just don’t see a second date. It’s just the way I am. I also know that other people are this way. I’d rather meet and realize this after a drink than talk to you forever and see you a few times to see if I start to feel the same way I did when we were chatting.
Try moving from matching to a drink without all that chatter in between and see if it changes things for you. I bet it will. How many days/weeks do you usually converse electronically before setting up the first date? Have you considered eliminating or reducing your electronic conversations pre-first date?
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