Hugh Grant and the posse of men in rom-coms would have you believe that your soul mate is going to bump into you while you are adorably fumbling your way through the streets, or you are going to fall in love while peeking through the shelf in a library, or they are going to steal your heart when you are at a party you didn’t want to go to in the first place.
Cut back to real life, and you are sitting on a weekday morning in your PJs, eating ice cream out of a jar and violently tweeting out memes as a means of coping with your eternal singlehood. This was me while back. I was wallowing in depression, thinking about how I am going to be single forever, hating on Hugh Grant and wondering when I will be able to muster the energy to shave my legs and go out and meet real people.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License
In an attempt to find out what I could to do stop moping without exerting myself beyond the bare minimum, I consulted my resourceful friends, who immediately suggested that I sign up for every single dating app I have access to. It didn’t seem like a bad idea and I spent a whole 3 hours curating my sexiest pictures and putting them out there in the world for people to reject. Initially I wasn’t very adept at finding love, but what I did find was my self-esteem, which rose like a phoenix from 60 layers of undisturbed dust and found validation with every single “match.”
Till now, my story sounds pretty pathetic, and that’s what it was, until I swiped once more and it changed my life forever. Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but I had matched with Neil (his name might or might not be Neil) and we had three super obscure things in common according to the app and he had a nice smile so my brain immediately started screaming “soul mate.”
I had been wading through these waters for quite a while now, so I knew that once the conversation shifted to texting, you knew that you really vibed with the person. Well, that didn’t take long to happen with us, and once we started texting, there was no stopping. We had a ridiculous number of things in common, he was funny as hell (and I am a sucker for funny men) and we really seemed to hit it off. Even though it started out as flirty banter, the conversation became seriously romantic and we started planning dates, even if it was to fangirl over the things we both seemed to be obsessed with.
If you are wondering how the date went, I should probably tell you guys that it’s been 6 months since we matched, and we are now almost exclusively seeing each other, so I’m assuming that it must have gone well.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
There are a few things in life which take you by surprise, and this was definitely one of those things. Of all the places I thought I could find a person I vibed with on a romantic level, a dating site wasn’t one of them. Like most people in their early twenties who are sandwiched between two distinct generations with two distinct opinions about everything, I too was dubious about the legitimacy of dating sites. After all, you are putting yourself out there with kindness and with honesty, and you are trusting the big bad world with your heart and your time. It all seems like a rather big gamble with much more to lose than to gain.
The story however, changed with the advent of Neil. At the risk of sounding sappy, I have to admit that his texts and his flirty messages and our dates and the budding romance is possibly some of the only exciting things to brighten up my otherwise grayscale life.
Suggested read: 15 Online Dating Safety Tips That Could Save You From Danger
Till now, it literally sounds like a modern fairytale, right? However, it is anything but a fairytale. It is in fact, a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, Neil is great and our chemistry is through the roof (at least I hope it is, because if I am imagining it, things can very awkward, very soon). After hanging out with each other regularly for quite a while, we decided it was okay to go to each other’s houses and hang out with each other’s friends. What we didn’t anticipate was the reaction we would be met with, every time someone asked us, “So, how did you guys meet?” and we said “Online!”
The reactions to that mostly consisted of shock, surprise and a little aversion to the whole idea of us being seen in public together. Even though no one said it out loud, a sense of shame has begun to creep into the way we introduce our relationship and talk about how we met. For some reason, it doesn’t feel legitimate, simply because we fell in love with words first, and then faces.
Image source: Pixabay under Creative Commons License
The reason I decided to write down my recent romantic history in painfully minute details (apologies) is because I realized I was caught up in a social psychology much greater than me or my cute-as-hell relationship with Neil. Sure, we are just dating casually and we like each other a lot, but unsure about how much we like each other, etc. But how much is society responsible for the way we feel about each other? Are we afraid to commit to each other because the doubts and trepidations that people have about online dating is rubbing off on us, or do we also believe deep down that there is no way that people can fall in love like this. After all, it is strange, and mechanic and rather unromantic.
After carefully thinking (and extensively over thinking) about this, I tried to come to some kind of conclusion about why falling in love online was still considered such a massive taboo. It is 2017 after all. People are supposed to becoming more progressive. And the avenues of meeting people you could potentially vibe with are also lessening, because most of our lives are online. Why can’t we find love online, too? What is so awful and repulsive about finding love on an app that was made only so that people can find love?
Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License
I realize that I am asking more questions and answering very few, but it has been a trying time, you guys. To be honest, every time I had a friend tell me that they met someone online, my brain automatically assumed that “met” implied a causal hookup. But when you are caught in the eye of the storm, when you realize that you have an actual connection with someone who wouldn’t have been a part of your life at all had it not been for a stupid dating site, you see things in perspective.
Is the solution then, that everyone should try online dating, find someone worth talking to and spending time with, and then judge others who have found love, or at least company, online? Of course, it sounds ridiculous.
Here are a few pros and cons I listed to help us all understand this strange psychology better:
Pros of online dating:
- You meet actual nice people you wouldn’t have met otherwise
- You know the other person is single and willing to date (so none of the “is he/she available’ kind of anxiety figures into the equation)
- The chances of embarrassing yourself is less
- You get to talk more often and with much more candor
Cons of falling in love online:
- Your very relationship is online. It feels rather un-personal at times
- You don’t have meet-cute stories to tell
- You are constantly thinking about how people will react when you tell them you met online
- It can be unsafe and unreliable
Suggested read: 20 Things You Should NEVER Put In Your Online Dating Profile
The entire premise of a relationship where you meet online, such as the one I am in now, is based on trust and confidence. In my few months of handling lukewarm reactions to something that is so important to my life at the moment, I have realized that people are yet to warm up to the idea of meeting online, despite the gazillion positive testimonials and marriages that have taken place thanks to online dating. It is important to consider who you are talking to, and not let it affect your relationship if people react negatively.
In some ways, falling in love online is more challenging than the love you find otherwise, because all you have going is your trust and faith in each other, and the feelings you have developed for each other under highly unusual circumstances. The struggles and problems and adversities exist, like they do in any relationship, but they are of a slightly different nature. Some manage to persevere, and some don’t.
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License