Contributing writer Kimberly Couzens submitted this post as a Reader Submission for Gurl. We love hearing your stories! If you’d like to submit your writing to Gurl, please send us an email at email@example.com.
Between Catfish, Tinder and the incessant TV commercials for Match.com, it feels like the Internet is the place tons of people are meeting potential dates. When I tell someone I’m single, a common response is, “Have you tried online dating? (Random person I know) met her boyfriend online!” The answer to that is that yes, I have tried online dating. I met a few guys online and it was actually really weird.
For those of us old enough to remember, Myspace was the original online dating site, back in the day when Myspace was still a thing. Well, okay, it wasn’t actually a dating site – it was a social media site, but a lot of people used it as a way to meet potential boyfriends or girlfriends. When I got bored, I searched for hot guys based on my zip code to see who was out there.
First, I found Hunter*, a model-hot guy with shaggy hair and washboard abs. I added him as a friend and we ended up talking on and off for about a year and a half. He only had a few photos on his profile, which we now know is a Catfish red flag. I didn’t find his personality amazing, but he was so good looking that I was willing to overlook it. I know that’s so silly, but it happens sometimes!
Eventually, Hunter confessed that not only had he stolen someone else’s pictures, he didn’t live anywhere close to where he indicated in his profile. Hunter sent me actual photos of himself and he looked nothing like his profile pics. I was so shocked that I had been fooled into telling him so much without even knowing who he was. I was also angry because I had invested so much time talking to him when I could have been meeting other guys. Of course, he said that everything else he had told me was true and pleaded me to “stay friends” with him, but I had zero interest in speaking to him again.
A lot of times on Catfish, it’s easy to write someone off as shallow when they’re not interested in continuing the relationship after discovering the person they’ve been talking to isn’t as attractive as their photos. Having been through the same thing, I understand why they aren’t interested in pursuing anything further with the Catfish. Sure, it’s frustrating that the person isn’t model-hot, but the bigger issue is learning that someone you trusted lied about who they are in a major way. It’s more than understandable why anybody wouldn’t want a relationship with a liar. It was really scary for me to realize that people actually do do that stuff in real life.
Even though I had had a bad experience, I wasn’t ready to give up. A few months later, I decided to look for a new guy, vowing to be more careful about it this time. I found Pete*, a guy my age who worked at a local car dealership. I don’t remember being blown away by the interests he listed on his profile and he didn’t have a lot of pictures up (again, Catfish red flag) but I decided to message him anyway to see what he was like.
Pete and I MySpace-messaged and texted back and forth for a few weeks before making plans to go on a date. I didn’t want another Hunter situation where I spent over a year of my life falling for someone who wasn’t even who they claimed to be. I also didn’t want to talk to him too long before meeting him in case there wasn’t any chemistry in real life. Spoiler alert: there wasn’t.
Even though Pete and I had exchanged flirty texts and I felt we had chemistry when we chatted on the phone, when we first met up (in a public place, obviously) he was a lot more shy than had come across in his messages. It was like there was something off about him. And even though we had plenty to talk about while we were behind our computers, there was very little connection between us in person. It was so weird. On the phone, we could talk about anything and we got along so well. But face to face, things were the complete opposite and I felt like I was hanging out with a stranger. It wasn’t just the emotional issue, though. I felt bad, but I just wasn’t physically attracted to him either.
It didn’t take much longer for me to realize that people can be totally different in person than they act like online. A computer screen can really change things. After meeting Pete, I realized that there are so many things that can be “off” about someone that you can’t detect without meeting them in person. Sure, you can tell if a guy looks cute in a photo, but if there’s no actual connection, that doesn’t matter. People act like who they want to be online, but then they can’t live up to that in person. I guess that’s what happened with Pete.
When we were talking in person, it was almost like I wish I could retract anything I had ever said to him that might be interpreted as sexual because that just wasn’t how I felt after meeting him. Pete and I had a nice dinner-and-a-movie date, but it was obvious we weren’t a match and that was disappointing. I had spent a few weeks getting to know this guy and I had really thought that we would click in person.
With online dating, it’s so easy to project all the characteristics you’d like a guy to have onto someone you don’t know very well. I think that’s the problem with a lot of people on Catfish. They fall into these all-consuming digital relationships with people who aren’t real because they want to believe that the person is perfect for them. I know that’s what happened with Hunter.
So, what did I ultimately learn from my online dating experience? There’s so much you can’t tell about a person until you meet them. When you’re talking to someone you met online, they can seem absolutely perfect and amazing. You’re so excited you met someone that you can convince yourself that they’re your dream match. But people are really different in real life! Many of the guys I’ve crushed on in real life probably would not have appealed to me based on their online profiles. So, the search continues. I would love to think that there’s someone out there who is a perfect match for me to find online, but after my experiences, I’d prefer to meet someone in person before spending too much time talking to them.
Have you ever tried online dating? Have you ever met someone online? Would you ever? Tell us in the comments.