Online dating has gone mainstream. People all over the world are striking up friendships and romances with people they meet online on facebook, in chat rooms or game forums, and via email and apps. Meeting online is now one of the most common ways to find a partner. Literally millions of people including me who first met online are now married, and psychologists are starting to examine these relationships. If you meet online does that tend to make you more or less compatible?
More or less happy? More or less likely to stay together? One independent study surveyed almost 20, Americans who met their spouse online.
Those of us who met their partners online will find the results encouraging. In fact, people who met online were slightly less likely to divorce and scored slightly higher on marital satisfaction. So… scientific support for what many of us have known for years — meeting someone online can work. However, you can still do a lot during those early stages of checking each other out to boost your odds of making it work for you!
This is especially important when you meet online across distance. You tell your best stories and try hard to be interesting. You spend a lot of time and energy wondering what the other person thinks of you.
You can forget to think carefully about whether you might be truly compatible. This dynamic can happen during the early stages of any romantic relationship, but when you meet online you have to navigate additional pitfalls, as well. For starters, when you are interested in someone you meet online, you can assume that there will be good in-person chemistry. I once exchanged emails with someone for months and then flew internationally to meet him.
No chemistry in person. Not a single spark. You can make these sorts of quick and unconscious assumptions in the early stages of any dating relationship. However, when you meet online and especially when you meet someone who lives far away it is particularly easy to assume that this other person is more suited to us than they actually are.
Finally, most of us are not as careful when we meet someone online as we would be if we had met them in a coffee shop. We share more details about ourselves, more quickly. One obvious solution is to meet in person as soon as possible. This will help you gauge quickly whether there is any in-person chemistry. It can feel a lot more natural to ask and answer questions over a cup of coffee than via email.
So what else can help you stay safe and date smart when you meet someone interesting online? Guard yourself against the assumptions and idealizations that can flourish in a long distance relationship. Remember that the aim of online dating is to find someone who suits you, not just to find someone.
Finally, you really need to ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. If you just rolled your eyes at me, wait! I know this sounds SO simple. There are good reasons that asking questions and listening well are relationship superpowers. When it comes to online dating and dating in general, really there are no surefire tips to make things work. But when it comes to building good relationships there are a handful of core skills that really help—things like asking good questions, listening carefully, and learning how to manage differences and disagreements constructively instead of destructively.
So what should you ask someone interesting when you meet online? Here are three topic areas to get you started. What do you do? What people do to earn a living tells you a lot about them. Ask them what they love about what do, and what they find a drag about their studies or their job.
Ask them where they see themselves in the future, or what their other hopes, dreams, and plans are. What are some things you admire or respect about each of your parents?
If you date or marry this person, issues associated with their family of origin will rear their heads in your own relationships. So, ask about it. How someone answers to these questions can give you clues about how to love them well, and also let you know how they may often try to express their love for you. If someone is unable to answer these questions or uncomfortable doing so that can tell you important things as well. So there you go… Three key areas to discuss with someone you meet online or someone you are thinking about dating.
Leave a comment below and let us know other topics or questions that are important.