I’m told some people found the love of their life through an online dating chat room. Others have shared they got to know they beloved long distance through IMs.
While IMs can be a way to get to know each other quickly, it can also create a false intimacy. I rarely open my IM application because I’ve found it is easy for men (and I’m guessing women) to get into too personal matters too quickly.
For example, I was checking my matches on a new site that has an automatic IM capability as soon as you log on. Within 30 seconds, a guy said hi to me. I typically ignore these, but he had a nice opening salvo, so I quickly looked at his profile, saw he was out of the area and 20 years younger, so sent him my nice brush off message. He continued asking me about things in my profile. So I decided to be nice and chat with him for a few minutes.
By minute two he was asking me questions that were inappropriate. I told him so, and said if he met me at a party he would not be asking these questions. Then I logged off.
The anonymity of the Internet can encourage some people say things they wouldn’t say in person. Or maybe guys like this would! But I think most would have more of a filter for appropriateness. In email, you have some time to think about what you’re writing. But an IM is just that — instant — with very little filtering going on.
This IM assumed intimacy has been more the rule than the exception. If you want to continue to chat you have to tell them your boundaries. But I find if a guy goes there in an IM, he’s not really someone I want to know more.
And it’s not just sexual comments or questions that are a problem. It’s easy to share details and feelings with someone you’re not looking at face-to-face. “What’s wrong with that?” you ask. “Isn’t that a great way to get to really know someone?” Yes, it can be. It can also create an imagined attraction when you haven’t even met yet. Then when you do and there’s no spark, you realize you’ve fallen for the fantasy that you imagined, rather than the real person.
The good news is if you start IMing with someone who becomes inappropriate and you share your boundaries and he doesn’t stop, you can block him from contacting you. Best to nip it in the bud before he has your phone number or address.
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