A couple of years ago, I fell for a guy on a dating site like Flirthut. Initially, they appeared to be out of bounds to me and out of my league but exchanging a few messages here and there revealed that we both had an interest in each other. As the week past, our messages grew in length and frequency and it was clear that we both really liked each other. It took some time before one of us plucked up the courage to ask the other one on a date, and it just so happened that it was me that made the first move. We agreed a date and I was so excited. Through all our messaging, I had got to know so much about him and I had built up an image of what he'd be like with me in my mind. I'd log in to the dating site frequently just to have a look at their pictures and I'd fantasise about our future together, marriage, kids, home, everything. I was well and truly in love with him, or at least the thought of him.
On the day I was set to meet him, I couldn't rest. I was anxious, nervous and exciting. I spent most of the day sorting out my hair, shopping for clothes to wear and chatting with my girlie friends. As the time approached, my nerves grew stronger and stronger to the point where I almost cancelled. Fortunately, one of my friends calmed me down and I made it to the bar where I would meet him.I arrived pretty much on time and a wave of nerves hit me again as I walked through a bar full of strangers to try and see him. My first thoughts were that he'd bailed on me. I ordered a drink from the bar and sat down on one of the bar stools while I waited. At least ten minutes must have past when I spotted a man that looked similar to my online love sitting one of the tables nearby. He hadn't spotted me so I nervously made my way over to him. As I got closer, I started to realise that the guy looked much older than his profile pictures. My fantasy was already starting to collapse. As I introduced myself, he spoke over me with the most irritating voice I had ever heard. Something about his tone just didn't work with me. I wanted to cry. My expectations couldn't have been further from the truth. There was an instant disassociation with my feelings. Months of fantasy and endless hours online disappeared in flash. I was devastated. A gut wrenching feeling returned to my stomach, but this time is wasn't the same as before. I just wanted to throw up. After he'd introduced himself and I shook his clumsy hand, I made an excuse to head straight for the ladies toilets where I needed several minutes to catch my breath. When I returned, I sat down with him and went through our date but all the time knowing that I didn't want to ever see this man again. I never did.
Months after the event, I wondered what went so wrong so I did a bit of research for myself and thought I'd share my findings here for others to learn from.I discovered that I had built up a fantasy about a non-existent person in my head. What I had fallen for wasn't the guy but my interpretation of him. I knew nothing about him really even though we had chatted so much. The bulk of rapport building with someone comes through the physical traits and to do this, we need to be with that person. The person's voice is also key as much of what we communicate verbally is in the tone of our voice rather than the content. It just so happens that my date that day had a voice I associated with one of my ex's that was physically violent towards me and that triggered a whole host of negative feelings. Combined with my strong expectations, this was a recipe for disaster as I'd instantly programmed my brain to dislike him without even knowing it.
Looking back at the time, the guy I met in the bar wasn't actually all that bad. He didn't look as old as I thought and my judgement was impulsive. I think he actually would have been a really nice man.My advice for anyone dating online is to keep a strong detachment from the person you're chatting to and not to make any assumptions until you meet them. If at all possible, speak to them on the phone first. Get to hear their voice as its one fundamental piece in the puzzle. If the voice fits, then it should make everything else easier. Don't spend too much time chatting to them online. This only serves to build up an illusion filled with false expectations. Keep contact minimal until you meet face to face.I learned my lesson the hard way, but the next few times were much easier and I'm now in a relationship with someone I met online.
Written by Maria Simeou (guest blogger)
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