Online Dating Expectations

The single mom who dreamed about me, found my profile at, and has been chatting with me ever since admits that she is nervous about meeting me in real life. (She’ll be in the Bay Area next week.) She’s never done the online dating thing. She doesn’t know what to expect.

That makes her the opposite of me.

In eight years of divorce, I’ve done way too much dating online. I’ve tried all the major sites:,, yahoo personals, eHarmony, salon, nerve, true, kiss, plentyoffish, craigslist. I know what it’s like.

What to expect from online dating:

Dating profiles are just a glimpse of a person – like any good sales pitch, an online dating profile highlights the best parts of a person. After you meet, be prepared for some warts to show.

Dating profiles aren’t necessarily true – people shade the truth about their age, height, weight, baggage, happiness, sometimes even their marital status. People tend to want to present themselves in a more favorable light. See bullet point one.

Your ideal partner can’t be described by checkboxes and paragraphs of prose – who can say what makes two people click? Chemistry is something felt in person. When things are right, your whole self knows. And this only comes out when you meet in person.

Remember – 75% of the tens of millions of people who date online are not satisfied with the process. And Time magazine named eHarmony one of the Five Worst Websites of 2007 for its “power to cause utter despair.”

Internet dating is merely a tool to meet people – nothing more, nothing less. Taken that way, it can be quite useful.

Tips for a better experience dating online:

Keep expectations low – don’t put the other person on a pedestal, or imagine them as your dream ideal (even if you already met in a dream.) They are just another person. You may or may not click.

Don’t visualize a future together – this creates false and often unrealistic hopes. On the first date, you’re meeting for coffee, not getting married.

Try to be accepting and non-judgmental – even if you don’t end up dating, this other person might show you another side of life, or help you learn something new about yourself.

My dreaming woman and I didn’t meet through a traditional online dating site, we met through my blog. I like her pics, we’ve clicked on the phone and through instant messaging. But I’m determined to keep things grounded.

When we meet in person, it will be just that – two strangers saying hello, flirting and chatting and getting to know each other, wondering where it might lead. I harbor no illusions that I’m her ideal man or that she’s perfect for me. I’m simply hoping for the best, cultivating an attitude of acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm for whatever may come.

And if we don’t hit it off in person, maybe we’ll head back to dreamland for some steamy dreamy hot rebound fun.