A conversation: Truth, attraction and online dating

Online datingBY MICHELLE GOLDEN

In the world of online dating, how do any of us know what’s true and what’s illusion?

Jay’s grandmother was concerned when she learned that her favorite granddaughter was in love with a woman she’d met online and knew only through the written word — no photos, no phone calls and no in-person meetings. “How do you know she’s not a 90-year-old man?,” she asked. How could Jay possibly know enough to be in love?

For Kath, such attraction without visual cues would be nearly impossible. Pictures are very important to her in online connections: “I always look at people and analyze people. You can tell a lot about a person by the picture. There is a certain type of person you’re attracted to, and I think it’s very rare that you fall for someone that’s not in the realm of what you find attractive.” Kath has also learned that pictures don’t necessarily tell the whole visual story. In one case, a woman was so much more beautiful in person than in her photo that Kath, surprised, found herself unable to speak.

Shannon doesn’t want to rely too much on any virtual information, whether words or pictures. She has met women online who, with further interaction (and certainly in real life), reveal themselves as very different from their initial presentation. Though the internet is still her main source to look for mates, Shannon remains wary of virtual interactions as a source of truth: “A person on a computer screen is not the person. Technology should never be taken as a substitute for real ‘face-to-face, get to know you’ sessions. It’s far too easy to hide undesirable attributes online. It’s easier to see lies face-to-face. Body language and things like that tell you a lot.”

Unlike Shannon, Jay is not concerned about being lied to by someone else. Instead, she doesn’t want to lie to herself: “Your eyes deceive you all the time. People make a lot of assumptions about me based on how I look and most of the time they’re so wrong it’s not funny. I didn’t want to do that to someone else. Is attraction mainly about what people look like, is it ‘I have a type and it doesn’t matter that this person is actually my perfect mate because they don’t fit that type?’ I wanted something different.”

Lost, on the other hand, accepts that she has a very specific physical type. A femme, she describes herself as “hardwired by straight culture” and is only attracted to other femme women. At the same time, Lost believes that physical attraction alone isn’t the core of connection. “I think the most important thing in a relationship is to be friends, and then if you have the rest, it’s incredible.” Lost met the love of her life online in what began as a friendship: “As friends, you develop this basis, and that’s what we did – and then we realized it was more than that. We did not see each other in person for about 6 months. We became fast friends online first.”

What do you think? Whose perspectives here do you relate to most or least — and why? And what’s your own unique view on truth, attraction and online dating?

Michelle Golden is often curious, asks a lot of questions and writes about whatever catches her interest. If you’d like you can email Michelle.

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