I grew up in the generation of emerging internet and uninformed parents. My parents were going through a divorce when I entered middle school. With emotion and hormones coursing through my veins, I sought love and understanding from an outside source: the internet.
Nowadays, it’s the norm to converse, flirt, and engage with complete strangers. Phone apps and websites make these interactions appear “safe.” What exactly is safe about it? I’ve used such means of meeting potential lovers, and for me, they all ended in disappointment.
From the age thirteen to twenty, I always had an “internet relationship.” In fact, I didn’t have a real boyfriend until I met my husband, which happened in our Rhetoric Composition class at college (not online). In many ways, my formative years with online lovers hindered me in meeting someone real.
Of course, I had many other person issues that I had to overcome, but I was also stuck believing that the internet was a real place to fall in love. The problem with meeting someone online before you meet them in real life is that you fall for the idea you have of a person, not the actual person.
With a medium of text and photos, your mind forms an ideal image of what this person is, rather than who they are. Often, when you meet said person from the internet, they’re almost always not what you expected. You give them a try anyway, because otherwise all that time and energy you spent on them was for nothing.
I’m sure there are success stories out there, and I don’t discount the possibility to find your “perfect match” online, but meeting someone first, in real life, triumphs over imagination on an LCD screen. When you meet someone in person, there are countless, subconscious signals that come into play: body language, pheromones, chemistry, and gut reaction.
People need people in person. Dating apps and websites aren’t a free service, they are monetized and made to profit. If you’re lonely and want to find love, deactivate those accounts, and go meet someone doing an activity you enjoy. Love cannot be mimicked by a phone, it’s only masked.
Although I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I not engaged with faceless strangers on the internet, it’s important for me to not regret my past decisions. What matters most to me is that the love I have now is real. We met at a physical place in time, knowing immediately we were meant to be without anything between.