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Ginger Holczer, PsyD






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Can online relationships be the real thing?

Is online dating a good way to meet people?  In an interview with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of the book "Why We Love" says "with these new networking sites, you do get to know some basic things about somebody before you meet them, and that’s more natural." In our society, we tend to be too busy for socializing and getting out to meet people, so online can be a good option.  Although many great relationships start online, it can also be a source of disillusionment and disappointment.  What are the risks and benefits of searching for Mr. or Ms. Right online?  How do you avoid feeling a big let down when the relationship goes from computer to real life?

  • Be realistic.  When the relationship is predominantly online, a person can get “offline” when they are angry or upset.  You may not get a good sense for how the person handles conflict or less positive emotions.  You are only seeing the part of the person that they want you to see and they are only seeing one side of you.  

  • Be aware of the pitfalls of long-distance relationships.  When you do get together periodically, it usually feels like a vacation.  Real life is usually on hold, so we don't get a feel for what "real life" would be like with the person.
  • Be honest.  Let your great qualities shine, but also let the real you peek through.  We all have flaws and its better to know if the flaws are "deal breakers" for the other person upfront, instead of months down the road.
  • Go slow.  Be careful about moving across the country for someone you have only known through instant messaging and phone contact.  There are so many other things you need to know about the person that you can’t learn without being face-to-face.

Online dating can be a good way to screen people before meeting, and much more convenient than sitting in a bar...after all, what do we know about someone at the end of the bar who is buying us a drink?  No matter where you meet a person, it’s a risk.  It’s even more of a risk when you can’t get see that person "in the wild," interacting with others.  So, give it a go! Just don’t let the person’s online persona be all you know before making serious life changes.  

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