If you are sitting by your Messenger waiting for a Cinderella or Prince Charming to pop up, you might hit the jackpot any moment. But hitting the jackpot is not the end. It is the beginning of what may be and mostly is a bumpy ride.
The Internet has been around for more then a decade. In the past decade 2 million American lovers tied the knot after meeting online. Such unions became a part of the Western culture and economy (dating sites made big bucks). According to the Wall Street Online Journal many of these marriages are going downhill now. The first decade was of excitement, the second one is of consequences.
This article is to examine why internet romance can be frustrating. This category of romance includes lovers who met in the chat room or the dating sites.
Online shopping is attractive because a lot of products of different brands, packages and prices are made easily obtainable. The same is true of Internet dating. A wide variety of individuals of different origins, countries, statuses and interests are available in the brush of a second. The key factor that makes it thrilling is that we imagine more than we observe.
“It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away.”-Boy Zone
The person you come across introduces himself or his profile does it for him. Either you believe him or else get going. Take it or leave it.
He narrates who he is and you present yourself to the best of your abilities, and in the process facts are a little warped. (We are not talking about the bizarre incidents where people pretend to be of the opposite gender or different ethnicity.) What we are talking about is hiding bankruptcy, obesity or pretending to be a university professor or living in Manhattan. Consciously or unconsciously, we project ourselves like we would like to be in reality. Living our fantasies is easier online.
Let’s be more sensitive here. There are things in everyone’s life he/she has yet to deal with!
Like the acne marks or job loss, hatred for alcohol or fondness for booze, it’s easy to hide anything and everything online. And obviously we don’t want our online sweetie to know what we perceive to be our own shortcomings or weaknesses.
The extent to which people lie or hide surely differs but it never fades away. Both the parties “nudge the truth” and when the affair goes offline, cracks in the stories become visible.
Also, people try to find a mate in their surroundings first. Internet is usually the last resort and desperation is therefore high. Since the online profile is the ultimate bait, pages and pages are filled with few facts and plenty of fibs. Some even seek professional help in filling and judging an online profile. No wonder online spouses commonly accuse each other of lying before marriage to win cases in courts.
Promise anyone anything and get away with it, no consequences online. Given that the major part of the relation evolves through text messages- the tones, mood and verbal cues are absent, increasing the chances of misjudgment. Even if voice chat and webcams become involved, meeting the person online and in reality is still poles apart.
There is one more issue. We see what we want to see. We notice and get attracted to certain characteristics in a person that we consider important. You might get too swept away by what appeals to you and not pay attention to what you, your living standards and circumstances require you to look for in a partner.
Mesmerized by his/her choice of music, discussions on Thackeray, supremacy in chess, and the oh-so pretty photograph that was mailed last week? And of course, the fact that he works out in gym two hours a day and she is unsatisfied with her pedicure this week are viable cues to his/her health and status. These can be misleading.
This information is not enough to decide to spend the rest of your life with him or her.
Plus, the web is a free place for all ages to find love. A 16 year old also wants a relationship too. But is he/she ready for it? Teenagers are not only too young to decide whom to spend their life with, they are also more prone to fall in the wrong hands and get exploited. The love life and its crash landing can have negative effects on their careers and personalities, which have yet to bloom.
For the past few million years attraction has had a different story. Men look for fertile women to spread their seed and women look not only for fertile but also competitive males who will not only impregnate them but also help in bringing up the offspring. Fertility and competitiveness are visible in appearance. The broad jaw line and well-built physique in men not only promise healthy genes, but also fine hunting abilities (competitiveness). In modern day, the perfect catch is the one with lot of sex appeal and a high status. Finding the right partner was crucial to our survival and these cues are completely absent online.
Research also suggests that our likeness depends on similar interests, attitudes, beliefs and attractiveness. Opposites might attract (the chances of which are high on the Internet), but in the long run only similitude can assure smooth sailing.
Can we defy, within a decade of the Internet revolution, what we have acquired in millions of years?
In real life, the main factors that get people to hook up include physical proximity. The more you see a person, the more familiar and thus more admirable he/she becomes. If the guy is sitting in Nigeria and the girl in Thailand, dating is a genuine problem. Imagine how frustrating it is to not being able to have enough of your darling.
Physical proximity also has additional benefits. If the lovers share a neighborhood, high school or even a book club, they have access to each others past life, families, friends etc. Above all there are mutual acquaintances. The fractures in the stories mentioned above will have more chances of being leaked out, before it’s too late.
People who meet in real life also end up in bad relationships, but with a higher tendency of online lovers to lie, deceive and misjudge, the chances of break-up are also higher! Another thing that is frustrating is that playing games in the virtual world is easier than in reality. A person can appear visible; become invisible or never sign- in again. It’s very excruciating to have a sweetheart that vanished in thin air for eternity.
Keeping away from online love (if you can help it) will save you a lot of hassle. It’s difficult to talk people out of love, but it’s good to warn them of the impending disaster.
This article was first published in Chowk.com on 19 May, 2006.