Hey, I need some real wisdom. What do you think of meeting a future spouse on a site like this? Before I would have said that seems insane, and meeting in person is better. But if you really share so much in common and are truly vibing, especially in spiritual conviction and passion for Christ, is it ever okay to make plans to travel and meet? If so, what is the safest, wisest, and Godliest way to go about that? I have and will continue praying on it, but advice is so needed. Much love.
While I’m not against this sort of thing, I have serious doubts about it for probably the same reasons you do. You can pretty much be whoever you want to be online, even through live webcam, as if meeting face-to-face didn’t already have enough manipulative flexing, and so your expectations are highly distorted. Maybe I sound like an old-fashioned close-minded grandpa, but I really don’t care: my job is to look out for you the best I can.
Inherent dangers with online dating:
– This is the main issue: Building an online relationship takes many, many, many shortcuts in human intimacy that may not be healthy in the long run for developing real communication. You’ve already entered a dynamic that bypasses most of the normal human methods of getting to know each other. Online responses allow time to think so you come off more reasonable; human contact is spontaneous and on-the-spot. Even when you’re dating face to face, you’re continuously modifying your behavior to be your best. So multiply that by a factor of a billion and you have the artificial realm of online dating.
It’s almost always the exception that online couples make it in real life, and I don’t mean to be mean, but you’re probably not that exception.
– Besides the previously mentioned manipulation, you already feel like you’ve invested a certain amount of time with this person. Which means even after you want to bail, you’ll find it very difficult to be straight up about it. The other extreme is that you’ll meet him or her and then decide to cut them off altogether, which is not only extremely cruel but will also launch your character down a certain direction of cold-heartedness and easily flaking out on people. You might say, “I’d never do that.” You’ll be surprised at how easy it is. When you cut off someone so quickly online just once, it becomes easier to do that all over the place. I’ve seen it happen.
– If this is a long distance thing, here’s the major issue: Most long distance relationships only work if they began at close proximity before the distance, and even then, it’s a slim chance. If you’ve built something online and then later happen to move closer, you’ll experience some painful changes in dynamics that could build resentment towards him or her for no other reason than the fact that they’re physically there.
So let’s say you really want to make it work:
– Get all the parents involved. There’s no reason to hide a possible relationship from them. If you have to do the ninja-thing with your parents, it’s not worth it. Plus if he or she turns out to be creeper-stalker-killer, at least you don’t unleash that on your parents after the fact.
– Talk to your pastor or an older brother/sister at church. My advice isn’t enough, nor good enough, and is only one point of view.
– Pursue friendship first. Like super slowly, at the speed of snails. If you do meet the person, make it VERY clear that you want to be friends and not instantly dating. Don’t be easy.
– If you are a woman (and this works with men too, but particularly for women) — Be on the look-out for false motives. Unless the guy is mega player-istic and does this for a living, it’ll be easy to tell if the guy just wants the milkshake. By milkshake: you know what I mean. Pray hard for discernment. Even the most sincere guy has dirty intentions in mind, or WILL have them the moment he feels access. I repeat: Don’t be easy.
– Lastly: If you meet up, try to talk faith. Find out the person’s spiritual frequency, maturity, consistency. You’ll be able to tell if they’re faking it or if they’re the real thing. Ask him or her to pray before you eat and hear out the prayers: see if they’re just trying to impress you or if they got a thing going on with Jesus. Discern, discern, discern.