Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Dating On The Net

I was reading Mash’s post on relationships and it left me doubling over with laughter. It reminded me of the time I decided to date on the Internet. It was early 2007 and I had just returned to South Africa after living a fabulously independent lifestyle abroad for a couple of years. Needless to say, adjusting to life back at home proved difficult and I was depressed for a couple of months.

Then one day, I decided that I needed a distraction, something to fixate on while I rode out the adjustment phase. That’s when I decided to load an online profile of me on an Internet dating site. The response I received was overwhelming. And before I knew it, I was chatting to and getting to know Nazeem, Ebrahim, Faruq, Faisal and at least 5 different Mohammed’s amongst many many others. Now my profile was a candid and straight-forward depiction of who I am, sarcastic warts and all.

Unfortunately though, most of the men that I got to know had trouble being equally honest with me. I was amused at how many of them stated that they were very good-looking, in contrast to my “average looks”. I was also intrigued at how they each played the game. Most of them came across very nice and accommodating at first, but with time, their true colours and agenda’s began to emerge.

I could eventually tell who was being sincere and who was telling little white lies in an attempt to impress me from the discrepancies in what they told me compared to what was stated on their profiles. I was also amused at how each one seemed to glorify their personas in an attempt to “sell” themselves; each portraying a magnified version of himself, so that I could think that they were better than what they really were. And all the while, to my detriment, I was wondering where the honest men were. Warning: Psychology and Internet dating are not good combinations.

I’m not male bashing here…don’t get me wrong. I was no angel throughout the process. I eventually got bored and began confusing them, because a lack of concentration and 75 odd men will do that to you. On one particular day, I accidentally called Faruq by Nazeem’s name. All hell broke loose. He was fuming, demanded to know who the hell Nazeem was. I told him that since he was not my boyfriend and we were only chatting as friends that it was none of his business who Nazeem was, even though I felt horrible for what I did. It didn’t end there. Soon I was mixing them up, all of them. I couldn’t remember them individually and only a few really stood out.

To make matters worse, I had a hard time keeping track of the conversations I had had with each of them or remembering those arb pieces of information that keep conversation going. I was soon talking to Faisal about the soccer match that I had initially discussed with one of the Mohammed’s. And commenting on something Ebrahim told me with Zaheer. I’m sure they all eventually thought I was going crazy. It was out of control lol!

Ultimately, mass confusion combined with pathological lying led me to believe that maybe Internet dating was not for me. I also couldn’t trust that what each of them was telling me was the truth. It wasn’t long thereafter that I deactivated my account and said goodbye to my cyber love quest.

However, I still believe that finding love on the Internet is not only possible, but also probable given the right circumstances and timing. But what I’ve taken from the experience though is that it is always better to meet people in real life before getting to know them on the Internet. Or at least, depict yourself with complete honesty. This leaves significantly less margin for error and people don’t end up building expectations or notions about who they think their object of affection is, so there’s no room for disappointment. People always tend to build images in their minds, based on their perceptions, which may not always be true. Complete honesty is key.

And Mash is 100% correct. One at a time ladies and gentlemen…don’t try to be a pimp, get to know them one at a time.

To those dating on the Internet: RESPECT…kudos. It’s damn hard work.

9 comments:

  1. I believe that "Internet finding" may be possible, but it always comes down to chemistry between two people. That's difficult to achieve through cyber-chatting.

    Azra is quite correct in that people are able to flatter, pander and flirt on-line without ever having to meet the test of being flesh and blood.

    The test is intimacy (and I'm not talking about sexual intimacy here) since intimacy is the requisite for a relationship. There are several things that must be present for an intimate relationship. Honesty is the most critical. Physical proximity is another. Even if it's holding hands for a walk on the beach or sitting together and watching a sunset while you simply share that proximity and see the same things - and find that you can (or can't) relate to each other.

    None of this is possible on-line. So while on-line finding may work, it always comes down to building something one-on-one over time, developing trust, laughing together, sharing a meal, and discovering that this person can be your best friend.

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  2. Though they may not act like it most of the time, one would do well to remember that behind every online profile is a real person who can feel actual pain. The attempt to find love online may be driven by a belief that it is a more convenient medium of getting to know new people. In my opinion, however, it is more often than not, an attempt by people to lessen the risks involved and minimize the possibility of getting hurt.

    @LL: Thats so insightful!

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  3. LL and Arslan - I think that between both of your comments, you hit the nail on the head.

    LL - I agree 100% that some degree of interaction is necessary. People can't get married in cyber space so its obvious that at some point in time they would have to meet face to face and interact.

    Arslan - Thanks for confirming what I suspected and believed. I also think that in this day and age, people are more terrified of rejection than ever before. So the Internet is a great excuse of constructing a barrier between people to minimalise any negative outcomes.

    Gents, thanks for some real insightful comments! :D

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  4. boy o boy, they call me venus!
    wait until they meet you ;)
    they = my friends :D
    i love your moments!

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  5. Agreed.

    I rememeber speaking to a friend who was getting close to someone on the net and I told them a simple piece of advice. If you think there is potential - meet them asap - because body language/chemistry interaction mojo is the killer.

    More important than that is the fact that you may enjoy them typing sweet nothing into your msn... but it's not the same if they suffer from halitosis and they do it in person.

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  6. you signed up to dating site?! now that is just screaming for trouble! :p

    i have come to the point in my life where i want to be able to communicate with my future partner comfortably online and in person. i also believe online communication can be healthy for a relationship however, its getting to that stage which might be tricky.

    i also agree with you in that meet as soon as you can, provided you can vouch that the person you are talking to is who he says he is and not a violent psychopath :p

    i guess its about finding the right balance.

    ANYBODY hear the true story doing the rounds at the moment about a young guy who had a 3 yr (or so) virtual relationship only to find that his sweetheart, who was so convincing she when to great lengths by sending him gifts etc, turned out to be a guy.

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  7. I too signed up years ago on a dating site, but never kept up with it...
    However, I met a guy in a chat room once and we would chat everyday whilst at work. We met each other and hit it off, but the timing was out; so nothing came of it; except freindship which we still have today.

    With the fast paced lifestyle we all live, on-line dating has become quite popular because of the convenience factor of it---but I for one, prefer the real thing.

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  8. hahaha

    came online after ages and loved reading you as always

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  9. I enjoyed this post. It's so true that people "flatter" themselves online.

    I found my husband on IRC but I wasn't looking. Growing up with a strict dad forced me to spend alot of time online (Telkom's R7 all weekend played a huge part in my relationship).

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