A reader emailed me with the question, "What's the best way to get over falling in love with someone you met via online dating that you've actually never met in person?" Although I appreciate that the reader thinks she has a broken heart, I had to answer this way:
Here is the good news. Getting over this person will not be difficult for you at all. Why do I say this? Because while I am sure that you think you are in love, you are not. Here is my opinion.
A person cannot fall in love with someone he or she has never met in person. You can chat for hours, days, even months or years online, and that includes Facetiming. You can really, really, really get to know someone, and the potential for real love can certainly be present. In other words, online chatting is a very real way to connect and decide if there are possibilities for the two of you. But, the bottom line is, an online relationship just isn't the real thing. Until the two of you get your bodies into the same room for a certain amount of time, you won't know if you love each other.
Some might disagree with me, but here is the question I have. How can two people be in love if they have never touched each other? I'm not talking about sex, I'm referring to simply feeling the other's skin. How about smell? There is a certain warmth and smell to someone that comes from being close, burying your nose in her neck, the smell of her hair, the smell of her skin. Can't get that via Facetime.
How can two people be in love when their lips have never touched? Isn't a kiss oftentimes the magic that helps you realize you've found true love? (or maybe this kiss makes you realize the opposite-that you aren't in love.) And, can you really say you're in love with a person whose hand you have never held or whose breath you have never breathed in?
Also, falling in love means spending a significant amount of time with someone, not pre-scheduling Facetime meetings where you can look your best and get into the perfect mental state to talk. Being in love means experiencing the vulnerability of him or her seeing you at your worst, both physically-meaning the times you have bedhead or when you have a terrible cold, and mentally, if you just lost your job or heard a family member was ill.
Despite the fact that online chats or Facetiming can include meaningful conversations, both can put you in situations where you are well prepared. True love exists when you are the opposite of prepared, when you are a mess, when you have a fit, or when you cry uncontrollably.
Think about it. When someone sends you a text, you have as long as you need or want to respond. Therefore, there is no authenticity or spontaneity in the conversation. In Facetiming, you can set up the lighting and background, and make yourself look as attractive as you'd like. If a person is self-conscious about his/her body, they can hide it. If he has a receding hairline, he can wear a baseball cap. If she has a scar, she can easily hide it. Can't do that in person.
On a real date, both people have the luxury of looking at EVERYTHING. Hands, toes (if she's wearing sandals), legs, arms, hair, smile, teeth, and most importantly (to me) eyes.
How can someone fall in love without looking into the other's eyes? I think it's impossible.
Also, in person dating allows the people to eventually see where and how the other lives, from the neighborhood to the smell of the inside of his/her home to the person's bed. There are a million little things that make us fall in love, and most of those aren't present during an online situation.
In closing, there is nothing wrong with online dating, in fact it's a great way to start a relationship. But no way is it possible to fall in love until you spend some real time in the other's arms. I will say one other thing. You might look back and realize you were in love before you met in person, but honestly, you will never really know if that was the case.
Dating is scary, and many people feel more comfortable hiding behind the conveniences of modern day technology. These technologies take away what most of us fear most in dating: vulnerability. It is such a shame because anyone who has ever really been in love will tell you that if you have the guts to be vulnerable and show the other person who you really are, and the person accepts and loves you with all of your flaws, there's really no better feeling in the world. And that just can't happen online.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.