» I joined an internet dating site a few weeks ago. It’s been an interesting process. I’ve certainly met a lot in unique and interesting characters (take that how you will). So far I’ve gone on six dates with with six women and maybe only one might result in a genuine 2nd date (not sure if she’s interested in that though).
This is to be expected, I think, given the nature of the enterprise. To a certain extent, it’s the worst way, in the history of worst ways, for one person to meet another. And the reason is this: a person’s profile is like the trailer for a movie or the write-up on the back of a book. It gives you an idea what the person’s like but leaves out major plot points and highlights only certain aspects; things that are exciting and sensational but aren’t really what they’re all about. When reading the DVD box for a favourite film, you might often think "Well, that’s kind of true but why would they say that about this movie? I guess they wanted to sell to a wider audience. But that’s not really what the movie is all about."
It seems to be the same thing with dating site profiles. People highlight certain aspects of their personality, for the most part honestly, but this doesn’t really tell the whole story. It’s not intentional (on my own profile I’m not trying to be misleading though I’m sure I am in some ways), it’s just nature of summing yourself up in a few sentences or, sometimes, point form. And who of us can even be accurate about what we’re really like? We have a distorted self-image whether it’s positive or negative — or most likely a combination of both.
Also the person reading the profile is going to paint a certain picture of you for themselves based on what your key words and phrases (which may ore may not be accurate) mean to them. When I write I’m "extremely creative" there’s a whole spectrum of "creative" I could be depending on what the reader’s experience with the "creative" has been. Some will assume I’m exaggerating and maybe have a few wacky prints on the wall or take some photos. Others might understand it’s a whole encompassing way of life.
That is just an example of how semantics come into play in this arena. The first impression created by that profile is carried through into emails and instant messages. A bit more of the person’s true self might come into focus on the telephone, but it’s still clouded to some extent by the initial reading of that profile which remains as a concrete document to re-enforce the intial impression even when new, more accurate information comes to light.
Further muddying the field of vision are the photographs attached to the profile. It’s not only that people generally only pick flattering photos of themselves, but that not having met a person (and understanding how the 2-dimensional image relates to their 3-dimensional reality), it’s hard to discern what they actually look like. Five of the six women I met don’t look like their photos (to varying degrees). But now that I’ve met them, I see how the photos do look like them or an aspect of them. It’s pretty trippy and I’m surprised each time even though I expect it. I always wonder how different I look to them.
This all adds up to, when you finally meet for coffee, a disparity between the person you thought you were meeting and the person you actually meet. Part of it is simply body language. People you expected to be confident are nervous wrecks, people you expected to be demure act like sailors. The thing is that not expecting anything beforehand (a total blind date), you might be totally okay with this person in front of you. But the mere fact your expectation (high or low) was wrong is what makes it difficult to form an honest opinion of the person — much less develop a crush or entertain the idea of a second date. On the other hand, you’re actually meeting 10-1000% more people than you would be normally (unless your an extreme extrovert), so that is an undeniable checkmark in the plus collumn.
And maybe expecting a person’s "trailer" to be an entirely accurate advertisement of the person’s "film" is unreasonable. I guess I just want to come out of the theatre saying, "That was awesome. Nothing like the trailer, but awesome."