I'm going to share something that I wrote with you, but first I'm going to put it in context. It was a short story that was barely half a page long from the perspective of Person A, who has been in love with Person B for a very long time, and all the little ways she has surprised him over the years. Someone recently quoted my own work to me (every writer's dream!) and said how much they loved this line:
"It was a lesson in assumptions: the important things about a person can't be found in a database."
With my own unassuming words from a silly little 600-word love story thrown back at me, I suddenly realized how applicable this is to online dating. No matter if it's six pictures on Tinder or a full blown personality profiling on eHarmony, you just can't really get to know a person from an online profile. You have to meet them. And for some reason we're always stunned that they aren't what we were expecting. But when we are online, we place a bizarre amount of value on really weird things.
I have literally swiped left because "Oh God, I could never date a Vikings fan."
No, I kid you not. I have probably passed by my actual soul mate on Tinder—like, 20 soul mates for all I know!—because he had a random purple hat on in one photo, or he was standing next to someone in a Vikings jersey and he's tainted by association. But if I met anyone of these men in the real world, rooting for an opposing football team would not matter one iota on the "Will I Accept a Date With This Man?" bingo game. Actually, rooting for opposing teams would be more likely to inspire some witty banter and teasing, which, I don't know about you, but that's definitely at least two squares on my bingo card.
As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember watching a game with a guy in college and having a lot of fun rooting against one another's teams. And I'm pretty sure the first time he kissed me was to put a stop to my gloating over my team's win. Definitely an A+ evening, all things considered.
So why does that Vikings coffee mug in his hand become so incredibly important when online dating? Because I have little-to-no real information about this person, so suddenly all the trivial information gets blown wildly out of proportion. Guitar in the background of one photo? "Oh my God he appreciates music and art! I bet he loves Eric Clapton, too!" Has a BBQ stain on his T-shirt in one photo? "Ugh he clearly has no sense of personal style or respect for basic hygiene." It's probably his brother's guitar. He has no clue who Eric Clapton is. And there is probably a delicious story behind that BBQ stain.
Which is what makes it all so ridiculous, of course. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one doing it. It's a side effect of the power-trip that is online dating. I can reject you without hurting your feelings, so I'm going to be insanely picky. Mwahahahahaha
It all leads me back to my starry-eyed idealism that meeting someone in real life is just more romantic and more interesting and all around better than meeting someone online. Because until that first date, whatever we tell ourselves, we have absolutely no clue who this person is.
A dating profile simply does not tell us anything of value about a person.
Which is reason #1 that if you're participating in any online dating forums, I urge you to take whatever digital hottie you're currently texting and get some actual in-person time with them. If you're like me and currently trying to be a little less digital and meet that hottie in the real world? Well, I'll get back to you when I come up with a solution for the fact that it's currently not working.