Internet dating is not a new concept. Since its inception, many singletons have flocked to cyberspace to meet people and make new connections with the ever lingering hope that they may encounter “the one”.
Living in a small town with limited ways to meet new people, a much younger version of myself decided to take the plunge and start seeking that ever elusive cyber match. It is extremely overwhelming in the beginning. Pictures of smiling, fit, tanned men apparently ready and willing to meet a potential partner leapt from my monitor. The array of photos of yachts in the Caribbean was astounding and they all seemed so perfect, on paper.
Although each site boasts different capabilities and features, the fundamentals are the same. You can search for similar likes and dislikes, physical characteristics you find attractive, political positions you agree with, religious beliefs and personal aspirations that you share. The underlying goal is that the potential cyber-mate entering that information from the other end of those intergalactic particles is telling the truth. Once you have sorted through the innumerable prospects, eventually you are ready for that first encounter. A smile is shared, witty repartee ensues and, as the relationship progresses, the true conversation begins. And then you decide to meet in person.
Before I regale you with my story of face-to-face contact, I will say that I know several people who have met on the internet and have formed loving and lasting relationships. We had a wedding at the lodge two weeks ago and the adorable couple met on eHarmony. My story, however, does not involve that happy ending.
After a lengthy online courtship, our relationship evolved into conversation over the phone. Eventually, we thought it was time to take the next step and we agreed I would drive to his home town to meet him. I rented a hotel room so I would have a safe haven if it all went pear-shaped, which it most certainly did.
The initial meeting was unnerving. I was sweating more on that early spring evening than I would have been if I had just run a 5K marathon in mid-July. He seemed sweet and was excited to show me the town. He tentatively reached for my hand as we walked. The conversation seemed easy and we decided to grab a bite to eat. Cocktails and appetizers eased us into easy communication but during the main course his behavior became quite odd. There was a very noticeable down-shift into direct eye contact and his words became slow and sedate. When I had reached the point that it had become uncomfortable, I finally asked what was going on. His honest to God response was, “I’m trying to hypnotize you”. Really?? I’m not sure if I was more shocked at the fact that he just admitted that or the fact that my sense of perception, when it came to him, was so far out in the ethers that it was irretrievable!! Needless to say, dinner ended abruptly and I went back to the hotel and double-bolted my door. I relived the entire relationship over a few glasses of wine, admitted great defeat and drove home very early the next morning.
The experience certainly left me with a feeling of immense distrust. Perhaps that distrust was more in my judgement than it was of a relatively benign dating website. But regardless of where that skepticism truly lies, I will certainly be far more cautious if I ever decide to once again dip my foot in that dating pool.