I Mistook Digital Chemistry For Real Life Intimacy & I’ll Never Make The Same Mistake Again

While there are pros to getting to know someone via text or through direct messages, building up digital intimacy before getting to know someone in person is bad news. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.

I used to text potential boyfriends before a first date because it made me feel less lonely. One of the worst parts of being single to me was the constant loneliness. In my previous relationships, I’d gotten used to having my special someone pinging my phone frequently throughout the day, and as much as I hate to admit it, it made me feel important and relevant. I relied on my partners to make me feel good so I struggled when I didn’t have that. When I started dating online, I used the random dudes to fill that void, which I realize now was totally messed up.

I was looking for a boyfriend, not a penpal. I experienced a ton of guys who wanted to text and direct message non-stop without the promise of an in-person interaction. While that filled the void I previously talked about, it kind of made me feel like I was communicating with a penpal. I was online to date, not to spill my private thoughts to someone I’d never meet.

I built up fantasies about these guys that they could never live up to in real life. The initial excitement of matching with someone new is super intoxicating, but is it real? When dating online, you only have access to the photos and the profile that someone chooses to curate to attract swipes and interest and it’s really easy to get caught up fantasizing about how I would fit into the limited view of the world these guys presented me. In no way were any of these fantasies realistic and I always ended up disappointed when I realized that these guys were nothing like the version of them I’d built in my head.

Digital communication doesn’t always translate into verbal communication. Much of my disappointment with online dating has stemmed from the fact that people communicate online way differently than they do verbally in person. In my experience, dudes would be super bold and flirty online but in reality, they were way more reserved and closed off. Sure, it’s much easier to let your guard down when you don’t actually have to physically interact with someone else, but isn’t that the issue? After a while, I just didn’t like that what I saw on my phone was never what I got in person.

The stakes feel so much higher when you establish digital intimacy. Another issue I had with digital intimacy is the feeling that I really wanted the connection to work out because I’d already spent so much time and energy texting and chatting with someone online. I just didn’t want it to be a huge waste of my time, which is exactly what always happened since I’d force things that clearly weren’t meant to be.

It’s awkward to share personal things with someone online and then feel zero chemistry when you actually meet. One time I went on a date with a guy I’d been extensively texting for a few weeks. The anticipation was out of this world and I was excited to meet a guy I’d really grown to like online. I had shared information about my career, my day-to-day life, my political views, etc. In other words, I spilled a lot. Unfortunately, when we met, I was less than unimpressed. It felt really awkward and kind of excruciating because we had zero physical chemistry. He knew so much about me and I knew that after this date I was literally never going to see him again. I felt like a fool!

You can’t truly gauge chemistry through words typed on a screen. Words carry a lot of weight, especially when you can see them and they’re (hopefully) just for you. This is why some of us love sweet notes and text messages from our significant others and loved ones describing their feelings toward us. At the same time, a person’s tone of voice and body language are crucial to figuring out if you have chemistry in a way that texts and pictures just can’t really establish. I used to think I was totally compatible with the guys I was talking to, only to find out the complete opposite was true when we were in the same place.

It’s super easy to fake a personality online; in person, not so much. Hello, have you seen Catfish?! People spend months and even years in intimate online relationships only to find out that the person they were talking to is a complete fraud and not at all what (or who!) they were expecting. This fear is exactly why I won’t be spending an exorbitant amount of time texting a guy before we meet in person. I don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to catfish me. After a few back and forths, let’s just take this to the next level and meet each other already!

I prefer good old-fashioned dating. These days, I stay off of online dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid. Honestly, those apps just didn’t work out for me. I met my current boyfriend through mutual friends and honestly, I prefer it that way. When we first met each other when out at a party with friends, I immediately felt all of the in-person chemistry that actually made our texting chemistry so much better because I knew our connection was real.

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