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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Online Dating: Avoiding Disasters and Setting Realistic Expectations

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist -
Jan 20, 2014 - 12:03:26 AM

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( - Recent statistics report that as many as 20% of marriages began with the couple meeting online. More and more of the weddings I attend have begun with the couple meeting on Facebook, an online service or on Twitter. With mobility and smart phones, the opportunities of meeting your match online are more and more consistent with lifestyle changes. Marriage journals are reporting that online relationships often prove to be more satisfying as the couple takes more time to talk, and communicate before they meet and in between meetings. Developing the emotional connection usually leads to a deeper and more fulfilling physical relationship.

Although there are many positive aspects to online dating, there are also many drawbacks. The largest one being humans lie, and they lie easier and quicker when they believe they won't be caught, and can show you what they want. This aspect can make online dating a disappointment at best and a disaster at worse. There is a common belief among online daters that when someone posts a photo, no matter how good it looks, imagine they are older than the photo, heavier than the photo, less hair than the photo, and if they talk about an income, you should expect it is half of what they say. Although this may sound cynical, it may help inspire more realistic expectations to the online dater who believes they have met their other half and are planning their wedding.

If you want to have a good dating experience, practicing these five behaviors will help you stay safe and also provide the best opportunity for you to meet someone you actually get along well with online.

1.      Be Real. Any relationship that begins as a lie will continue as one. Put a real photo of a real you moment on your profile. They should like you for being you. Don't fudge on your weight, your height, age or your job.

2.      Dress Normal. You may look prettier in a gown or a tux, but unless you wear these every day the chances are rare the person you may meet will see you in one. Blue or pink hair is fine if that is you in present, but putting a photo of you up when you were 22 years old with blue hair is probably not a good idea if you are over 25 years old now.

3.      Slow down. The most dangerous thing you can do is "hook up" or "meet up" too soon. Doing this will turn your healthy online dating experience into your disaster online experience.

4.      Be open-minded and enthusiastic about meeting new people. When dating online, it is in your best interest to talk to many people. Those who don't fit into your "usual type" may be the people you end up cherishing the most. Remember, you want to think of networking when you are online, not marriage or gaining a partner. The networking of online dating is what heightens its ability to be effective in helping you find potential dates you click with.

5. Be safe and smart. Not everyone you meet online will be a serial killer or a drug addict, but you do have to be smart. When you are going to meet with someone you have been corresponding with, meet them in a public place and have your own means of transportation. Meeting up for an overnighter the first time is not smart, and doing so tells your date many things about you.  Don't give them information about you online or in person during your first meeting because you don't really know this person yet. They should not have your physical address, passwords, account numbers or any other vital information about you. Respect yourself and the other person enough to be the most authentic version of yourself you can be.

With on line dating, if you ever get the feeling that this person wants something else physically or emotionally rather than trying to become what they want, close them out and begin again. The greatest asset about online dating is the easy "goodbye." In real life, breakups are usually much more traumatic. -Mary Jo Rapini

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Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo happens every Monday and Thursday morning 9 A.M. CST on Fox 26 Morning News. Catch Mary Jo early on Fox 26 Saturday mornings to get your RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGE for the week ahead.


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