When you see a guy’s profile, you instantly know whether he’s a catch.

You just get a FEELING about him.

You look at his picture. You read between the lines of his profile. You imagine him in your head.

Then you start writing back and forth to each other…

And you KNOW.

This guy is different.

This guy is special.

This guy might be the one.

That’s the promise that hooks people on online dating.

It’s that feeling of magic, anticipation, possibility.

Why, then, do things so often go horribly wrong?

The Hype and the Reality of Online Dating

The ads make it look so easy.

A match pops up on your phone.

Next thing you know, you’re strolling through the park with this cute guy who makes you laugh.

Cut forward to holding hands … kissing … a diamond ring in a velvet box … confetti as you walk down the aisle to the cheers of friends and family.

That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

Except that’s not how most people experience it.

Nearly half of American online daters find that online dating makes them feel more frustrated than hopeful.[1]

They describe their experiences with online dating as somewhat or very negative. They find that people tend to lie online. They don’t like how superficial it is. They don’t receive enough messages from people they’re interested in. And they receive too many lewd or inappropriate messages.

Why does online dating fail to live up to the hype?

And what can we do differently?

Online Dating Trap #1.
The Power of a Profile

In real life, first impressions are instinctive.

You look at a person, and in less than a second you have a strong sense of whether they’re likable, trustworthy, or attractive.

In general, those first impressions tend to be valid.

But not online.

Online, first impressions are wrong more often than not.

That’s because you’re not able to see the real person.

All you see is a carefully chosen picture or a paragraph of carefully worded text.

Because our brains love to fill in gaps in information, you end up making assumptions about this person based on the little you know.

You build him up inside your head. You get excited about the man you expect him to be…

Only to meet him and realize that he’s nothing like that at all.

TIP: Don’t let your imagination run away from you. Online, he could be anyone. Wait until you meet—virtually or in person—before you make any decisions about him.

Online Dating Trap #2.
Digital Flirting

It’s fun to flirt online.

There’s something freeing and thrilling about flirting with a man you haven’t even met yet.

He doesn’t know you. All he knows of what you look like is your picture.

To him, you are this fantasy woman.

And the messages you exchange are getting hotter and hotter.

Yet communicating too much online before meeting may actually HURT your chances of connecting in person.[2]

As you get to know each other through messages and texts, you can feel less inclined to take the conversation offline.

After all, you feel like you already know each other. It’s so enjoyable to get his messages. Why ask him to meet up and risk him turning you down—or, worse yet, finding out that he’s a creep in person?

TIP: Remember that “online dating” is a misnomer. You’re not dating online. You’re meeting online. It’s not a date until you see each other face to face, whether that’s in person or on camera.

Online Dating Trap #3.
Too Many Options

It’s great to have options.

The more the better!

Except when you have to make a decision.

Having too many choices paralyzes us.

When we finally manage to choose, we’re less confident that we made the right pick.

That’s why so many women complain that the men they meet online are “flaky.”

These guys won’t commit to seeing anyone regularly, because they’re keeping their options open.

It’s more exciting to think about someone new, who you haven’t met yet, who might be the partner of your dreams, than to keep seeing someone who’s human and complex and imperfect and may possibly have needs.

If a guy refuses to nail down a date to see you again, don’t waste your time trying to convince him. Jump back in the dating pool. Set your sights on meeting someone who shares your values and is ready for love.

And if you meet a guy like that, don’t write him off just because he’s not a 10/10 on the first date. The sparks might not be there at first. There may be some awkward moments.

But if you’re willing, and he’s willing, keep getting to know each other. Put in the time. Don’t expect love to look like fireworks. It more often looks like a small green bud, hopeful and full of promise.

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/06/the-virtues-and-downsides-of-online-dating/

[2] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/PSPI-online_dating-proof.pdf

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