Confessions of a on-line dater

Online dating has become very popular these days. There are many ways to think about this. Today, with technology becoming more accessible to people of all ages, ‘instant’ relationships has become the in-thing. Many people feel that this is a type of ‘technological’ relationship and for the most part lack any depth or feeling, it can be very dangerous as well.

This is how one of our readers feel about this. He prefers to stay anonymous.

Please feel free to comment on this and let us start a debate going on this topic.

The confessions of an “online-dater”

I believe and feel strongly that online dating is in many regards detrimental to psychological health. As one would label smoking and drinking alcohol, online dating sites should have a similar ‘warning’ or ‘disclaimer’ because it also leads to negative addictive behaviour, irrespective of gender, age or race.

Below my story:

As I have gone through the motions of a final farewell from my last internet dating encounter and disappointment, I considered this a perfect opportunity to give a personal view and description of a male ‘online-dater’.

The initial reaction would be to shout and scream disappointment and rejection but I suppose internet dating has its place in modern culture and society. It is not enough that we fool ourselves to believe the hype of the so called social-media. It is anything but social, for it creates additional strains on human interaction and seclusion. It manifests itself in a part of the human psyche that we like to term personal space. For a start, nothing is personal anymore and internet dating or more aptly coined online-dating is far from being social or even remotely human. The human sensation of smell, touch and tone of voice is missing completely and denotes our intentions of not really being interested in other humans, other than the immediate gratification of sight and the so called personal profile honesty or dishonesty.

Online dating allows for rubbish, deceit and fake realities. Let alone the factor of ever growing open infidelity. It is as if social media gives us the right to be unfaithful, to be somebody else with less and less morals to fall back unto. We have become what our grandparents and yes even our parents used to warn us against, a dissatisfied and disenfranchised community of roamers and wanderers. We have grown accustomed to distance and keeping other humans at bay, making an immediate contact to others a thing of the past.

Yes, people may argue that they now have a wider range and wider possibilities to find ‘the-one’ but reality is far removed from such thinking. We hide behind a wall called ‘self-esteem’ and ‘personal growth’ but tend to forget that we will not find our own answers in other people by looking and searching. It invokes questions of trust and reliability, honesty and commitment, the true self and the ability to change like a chameleon. Far greater human inhibitions are being exposed and come to light as we look to others for who we are.

Initially, my personal step that I took regarding online dating was to alleviate the idea and thinking that I was worthless and no good to the opposite sex. Yes, a knee jerk reaction to a divorce and the trauma associated with that process. Not realising that it would be a totally detrimental step that I took, I pursued the idea of hiding behind a computer screen trying to persuade myself that this is where I shall find true reality. How wrong I was. We can easily force ourselves into a pattern of adverse thinking and not coming to the conclusion quickly enough that this medium was made for the modern social recluse. We are inherently not recluse creatures and need direct social interaction, hence my change of the term from ‘social media’ to ‘inter media’, denoting interaction yes but removing the social aspect out of the picture completely. We are social beings and are not destined to be isolated from each other and void of direct contact.

Do we point fingers to say that one gender is more drawn to this kind of interaction? No, is the short answer. Instant gratification has never been a sole male trait or instinct, as many like to think. Yes males are the hunters by nature and many a female would like to be ‘hunted’ but this does not mean that online dating has kept its own natural form and follows the doctrine who we are supposed to be as male and female. The picture has been turned on its head as many women do not need a man to look after them anymore, to be the sole provider of the house, to be the strong one. On the other hand, more and more males are seeing this as a way out from the stigma of being the head of the family. Is there a direct link between divorce and online dating? Maybe not necessarily because people have met and divorced outside of this medium as well. It is considered by many women to be a safe way of ‘meeting’ or interacting with other men without the fear of direct intimidation and harassment, be it in a work environment or in public like a restaurant even a pub.

Online dating has become the modern drug and compulsion of human instant gratification. Why are we suddenly more shy and afraid of others around us, than 30 or even 20 years ago? What has changed in our cognition that we suddenly feel more distant to other people? In my opinion, nothing, except inter media, as we are not directly required to be social anymore, initial faceless communication. Neither age nor gender has relevance here in my argument only the place where we meet each other. Women have recreated their online dating experiences to become more assertive and daring in their approach as they have less to loose than before. A question might arise suddenly as to which gender is more vulnerable?

Some have met their spouses or partners at places of worship, in the mall, at a friend’s house, work and even by accident. Now, we are adamantly enforcing the idea that we will not have enough time to find the right one. My question then is; will you have enough time to spend with each other when you have met your one-and-only? Or will you resort to keeping in touch via a certain inter media tool? This leads to other forms of miss communication in itself, no tone of voice and no immediate interaction. We are easily fooled to a world of make-believe and false realities. We may have met spouses and partners in the various places and those relationships have also not worked out, so why would online dating be any different, I hear you ask?

On a personal note, my last experience of this kind of so called dating has recently come to an end. My confessions or should I say my experience as an online datist has personally proven to me all of the above. I have fallen into this trap of convincing myself that this is the place to find the one-and-only. Nothing is further from the truth. My sense of reality has changed as I explored this world of online dating, a game to say the least, easily pointing fingers and bringing up excuses like ‘well, if you can do it, I can do it too’. My fears and inhibitions were reinforced with magnitude, giving myself that false sense of security. It became a drug, a make believe world of warped ideals and unethical behaviour. First you’re thinking process changes then subsequently and inevitably your behaviour will change too, to make real what is not. I was starting to lie to myself, to look good, to be impressive to the opposite sex, to make them believe that they have found the perfect match. Little white lies are easily justified and defended.

Alas, nothing is perfect. Nobody is perfect but still we believe our own hype. Or is this the hype that we are expected to adhere to and live by? If you cannot be yourself, venturing into online dating, then how can you expect to be yourself when you finally meet face to face? Are we inclined to just continue the lie into perpetually? I say again, this has no bearing on either gender as I have heard first hand stories from online women daters how they have come across falsified profile photos and even going so far as to change the race. How much does it take and how far will you personally go?

Online dating to this author, has not been the answer for finding real and honest love, as was my original idea. Failing to heed inner voices and self-preservation, it became a quick fix solution to live the life of the immediate now and disregarding feelings and ethical behaviour. I cannot blame and will not point fingers at this medium because it has brought some happy couples together. Our intrinsic personalities should not necessarily be guided by this medium as we meet other people in our daily routine and interact on a platonic level but when online dating becomes this escape route to let go of all that we hold dear, therein lays the problem.

My recently failed relationship, I can easily attribute to online dating as I have experienced continues change in my ex-partner’s behaviour over the period of a year. The on-going change in behaviour I attribute to the fall-back to online dating. It is just too easy. Why change now when it is easy to go back and re-invent yourself. This was a painful lesson to learn and I will safely say the last online dating encounter for this author. I hear you say: nothing ventured nothing gained, well I have gained the experience to write this article. You can lie to others more easily but never lie to yourself.

Fred Boshoff

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