Looking For Love Online: Reality vs. Expectations

looking for love

When it comes to looking for love, online dating has a lot to answer for. Too many times I’ve seen friends stare at their phones and beg for that elusive text to come through. When it finally does, then begins the dance of the text message. What did they mean by this? Do you think I should leave it a while before I reply? Damn, I’ve opened it so they’re going to know I’ve read it!

I know Im sounding cynical here but I am not a big believer in the tiptoeing around each other part at the very beginning. I met my boyfriend at university at our St.Patricks Day party. Being the only Irish one to live there it’s safe to say that I did not present the best view of myself that night.

However one thing it did do was bypass all the dancing around each other. He seen me as a drunken mess, so how much worse could it get? I messaged him when I wanted to, he messaged straight back. We hung out, lay in our pajamas and talked about stupid things all night. He seen me with no make up and he seen me very hungover (8 years later, he still does). Now I’m not advocating getting drunk on all your first date, but I am suggesting that pretending to be someone you’re not while looking for love never works out.

Keep it realistic

Everyone is human. The movies have polluted our minds that there is one and only, a perfect person out there for everyone. However the perfect first date where he sweeps you off your feet, falls in love at the first sight or never farts is too surreal to be taken seriously anymore.

There are so many great people out there that are getting swiped left because their picture isn’t perfect and they don’t follow the rules of online dating by honing their skills at writing a biography. Think back to the last time you met someone in a nightclub, bar or anywhere else in the real world? Was it the drop dead gorgeous, tall beefcake that you’ve been staring at all night that you remembered or was it the guy that stopped to pick up your jacket when it dropped off the back of your chair?

Everyone knows that presenting the best version of yourself online and carefully constructing text with your friends will inevitably lead to going on that first date. However, then you are on your own. What if the funny anecdotes that made him laugh were given to you by your friend? Those filtered photos that you post do look gorgeous, but what about the real version of you? What about the you that gets spots, sits and watches Netflix all day and doesn’t shower for longer than your prepared to admit? This is the real you.

I know that putting up a greasy haired picture and saying all you like to do is slob around is not the way to get dates, but uploading a highly photoshopped image of yourself is also not the best option as it may backfire on you. Go into these dates remembering that more often than not, online profile photos are taken and retaken a million times and bios are written over and over with the help from many an outside influence.

Try not to be judgemental

I know your probably all thinking, what the hell does she know. She has been off the market for 8 years and was shacked up before Tinder was invented. Well you’re probably right. I’ve never in my whole life been on a first date. My boyfriend and I met when we were 19 and our first few weeks of seeing each other were always in group scenarios, house parties and nights out with all our uni people. We were definitely seeing each other before we went on a date just the two of us.

What I do know is that looking at the evolution of online dating from the outside I can see that it does require a lot of effort. I think online dating is amazing, more often than not, if you’ve lived in a place for a long time and haven’t met the right person, then chances are you need to cast your net a bit wider. Online dating is perfect for that. My annoyance is that too many of my amazing friends are having to dim their awesomeness to fit into the correct stereotype of a good online dating profile.

All I’m saying is maybe swipe right on a few people that may not be your idea of a perfect looking person but they like the same films and have the same sense of humour as you. You never know, that date could turn into something amazing.

Don’t pretend somebody that you aren’t

I know this seems like a very long winded way to say that everyone is awesome (see Lego movie), but I really feel like on both sides of the coin people are being short changed. People are having to pretend they fit into this scientific formula for online dating but as soon as you get a few dates, the facade will slip and you might not be compatible with each other. Then it has gone long enough for feelings to get hurt.

A friend on mine allowed me to help with her Tinder search and mentioned she would never message first after a match. Why? She didn’t want to seem to eager. This girl is bubbly and chatty in her day to day life but when it comes to Tinder she doesn’t speak first. It is so out of character for her that I told her to just go for it. What will happen? He doesn’t like her chat and she can go back on the search. The other outcome is she plays coy and writes what she’s supposed to write. They go on a few dates, she gets more comfortable and she shows who she really is, he lets her down in a few weeks and she’s then back questioning what is wrong with her and she mustn’t have played the game properly.

Experts have been looking into the online persona and how many people feel inadequate because their life doesn’t match up with their friends’ Instagram life. This is true for all online representations of ourselves. Beauty and lifestyle bloggers have come out and said their lives are nothing like what they portray online and it is exhausting trying to maintain it. Online dating is exactly the same. I do believe that there is someone out there for everyone, but this fake online life is making people seem not good enough. How can anyone in a bar or walking down the street live up to an Instagram filter? So go ahead, create an online dating profile and swipe left and right but please, please be honest with yourself.

Image: flickr

Gillian is a journalism graduate so these days spends most of her time working in bars. She loves writing, mainly focusing on fiction but writes anything she can get her hands on. Gillian has been with her boyfriend for 8 years and they have just returned from a 5 month road trip around the USA.


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