The other weekend I was set up for a dated sorority function. I didn’t know the guy too well, but knew he was pretty attractive and my friend offered to set him up with me. Naturally I accepted. Naturally also, I did my research: found him on Facebook, discovered his interests, his career plans, his favorite movies and types of beer and presidential candidates.
As we exchanged giddy banter over text, I was ecstatic to meet him and have an incredible night. I was being fun, witty, cute, the whole package. He even texted the guy who set us up to say that I was hilarious (that never happens)! How wonderful, this effortless attraction we had for each other. I had it in the bag.
The date was a disaster.
As it turns out, texting was no indication of the way a real conversation, or entire night for that matter, would go. The ability to take minutes crafting a clever response was whisked away as we entered into a conversation IRL, leaving us only with awkward laughs and uncomfortable silence in which I took the chance to take yet another swig of beer.
“So what’s your major?”, I asked, ready for him to say “Business”, and for myself to respond with yet another question I already knew the answer to.
We seemed to be playing a game: the exciting part was not learning about the other person, but seeing who was better at pretending like it was brand new information. But really, it was all too easy, and all too boring.
The night gradually became worse and worse, as we got a little too drunk to hide our previous conceptions and not sober enough to suppress our reservations about each other. I loved to dance, he was intimidated. He tried to play 60’s R&B at the pregame, I had to restrict his access to the music. I ran ahead of him as we made our way to the bar because I thought he was being rude by not offering me a jacket.
So there we were, by the end of the night, both ready to go home and rid ourselves of the shared discomfort. Two horribly incompatible people, who earlier that day had been fawning over each other to mutual friends, realizing all too quickly how wrong we were.
Maybe, you’d say, this is an isolated situation. Maybe we just were not a match, and happened to have an unlikely spark via messages. We both wish that were true. All too often we find ourselves enveloped in the online persona of the person we are opposite. We let it overshadow the person him/herself. We make up for deficits in actual attraction and compatibility by looking back at attractive pictures and matching common “likes”.
“So what if I spent an hour with him and couldn’t stand it?”, we assure ourselves, “we’ve been texting for weeks and it’s great.”
Reality check: it’s not. We are killing our ability to truly connect, and it is sad. Career aspirations? Done, you’ve read his summary on LinkedIn. Love at first sight? Forget about it, you’ve definitely seen that beautiful girl on Facebook before.
So, what to do? I really don’t know. If I did, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted a perfectly good Saturday night.
But what I do know is, from now on I will prioritize the time I spend in actual interaction with people. I will not let a predisposed idea formed from profiles or smooth messages sway my opinion of the person sitting in front of me. I won’t stand for relationships occurring solely via meaningless picture snapshots and 50 character conversations.
I will remember that my own worth is exponentially greater than the image I’ve constructed online. Anyone who takes the time to appreciate that is damn special. And if they don’t, well, the next Saturday is only seven days away.