Online Dating vs Meeting Someone Online

I have a bunch of friends who do the online dating thing.  They join some sites, they chat with people who seem like potentially good matches and then they go for coffee or drinks with them.  Sometimes they like them.  Sometimes they don’t.  I’m single right now, but very hesitant to sign up for one of these online dating sites.  This is likely because I did a bit of online dating a few years ago.  It wasn’t through J Date or or any other officially recognized dating website.  It was through MySpace.  And it was way different.

Believe it or not, the parameters of a legitimate online dating site do not exist on MySpace.  Or more recently, on Twitter or Facebook.  I know.  Crazy, right?  So, if I were to, for example, have written a line from the movie Airplane as my MySpace status update a few years ago and said, “Whoever knows what this is from, I’ll marry you”, and then if someone were to have responded, not only correctly but cleverly to that status and then if we were to go on to have an intense three week exclusively online and texting relationship, even though she lived at the beach and I lived in Hollywood (not at the beach in Spain, at the beach in Santa Monica)…  Freeze.  Let’s take this out of the magical world of What If?  (Shout out to actors!) Because the way that I’m explaining it to you now is is exactly what happened.  Okay?  Okay.

So back to it. Geographically speaking, if a month has gone by, there’s likely a reason you’re not meeting a person in person if you’re within a 15 mile radius of that person.  And that reason usually has a name.  If you’re not with me, I’ll spell it out for you.  Your internet relationship is in a relationship.  And not just the one they’re having with you.

I’m sort of a control freak.  Lose the “sort of”.  For whatever the reason, at that time, I was in the mood for a little crazy in my life.  Therefore I take responsibility for the part I played in this whole thing.  Shall I continue?  I think I shall.  This girl and I (I date girls. Even when I’m not dating them in person.) started talking on the phone and finally, we planned to meet.  Is it a good sign when a first meeting takes place at midnight and you have to drive across town to a bar that she’s supposedly at with friends and when you get there she’s waiting for you curbside because supposedly her friends are inside and don’t know that she’s ducking out to meet you?  Probably not a good sign.  Is it an even worse sign when she gets in your car and says, “Drive.”  In retrospect, also probably not a good sign.

We lapped around the block a few times and I was pretty freaked out.  I didn’t feel attracted to this person (stranger??) who I had, up until now, been so attracted to (over the phone, texting and via email/iChat).  She did not want to get out of the car and was getting constant texts, supposedly from her friends in the bar who didn’t know what happened to her.  There were likely friends in the bar.  And those friends in the bar were likely with her girlfriend in the bar.  Finally, I convinced her to go back into the bar.  At this point, we were parked out front at valet and she was pretty drunk.  She got out, slammed my car door and made quite a scene.  I can’t remember exactly what she was yelling, but I do remember the valets looking at me like, “You need to break up with Crazy.”  And me both realizing and saying, “Sorry, I barely know her.”  And thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve been having phone sex with Crazy for a month.”  It’s at this point in my column that I’d like to say a special hello to my mom and dad.

That night, I thought about changing my number.

The next afternoon I called her.  I.  Called.  Her.  What?!  I know.  I think it was partially out of fear of what she might do next and partially because, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was somehow attracted to the drama.  Ugh.  That sentence was not fun to type.

We ended up dating for a while.  And drama I got.

I really think that people will show you who they are right away.  Sometimes they show you directly and sometimes you see something in the way that they treat other people.  I think it’s our decision to pay attention to those moments.  I knew it from the beginning.  I knew there was a girlfriend.  I knew there was some lying going on that wasn’t even girlfriend-related and still, I stayed in this.  And this was a mess.  When I finally ended it, it was pretty quick and uneventful.  I think we were both surprised it had taken me as long as it did.

In retrospect, I had some fun with her.  There were some nice times.  However it was mostly super stressful and I sat in this chunk of time where I (felt like I) needed these crazy ups and downs – all supplied by her.  A close friend of mine and I even had a falling out that was a direct result of this girl.  I don’t want to say I regret the time spent (sort of) with her.  I try not to have regrets if I can help it.  I’m a big over thinker and that coupled with regrets equals a tail spin that no one deserves.  We all make choices every day throughout the day.  Sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  I know I learn and grow from both paths.  I will say, all of this considered, when it comes to online dating … maybe don’t say yes to a stranger who was somehow inexplicably on your profile page and then started a conversation with you and instead- go get your eharmony on.

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  • Christina Smith-Maillioux

    I met my husband online. We met through a silly forum site called Gaia Online. I was in the US. He in France (he’s French). I came over for the first time to met him in 2006 and stayed for 3 months. It worked amazingly well. We had talked for about a year and half before I came over too. It was a complicated situation but the best thing I ever did. I know my story is very different than most people’s though. My advice to people who like each other online. Met in person as soon as possible so you don’t waste time making up this amazing relationship before you know it would work in person. Great article by the way!

    • Jill Kushner

      Great story and great advice! Thank you!!

  • Natalie Googlesearch

    I met my fiance online! I actually met his neighbor online first though. I was very young, thirteen I believe, when I felt like a sort of social outcast. I spent a lot of time on the internet because it was the cool thing to do at the time. Mostly, I met people through a chat room on my favorite bands website. These were people from all over the world, and at the time, the band wasn’t TOO famous, so it was pretty limited to the same people day in and day out. I met a girl who lived about 45 minutes from me in the chat room, but I never had the courage to meet her in person. I think because I always felt older than everyone else my age, I felt the need to lie about my age. I told people that I was sixteen when I was not. However, me and this girl connected. We chatted through AOL and even called each other a couple of times. One day, she gave me a phone number and said “call this guy!”, so I did. This guy and I talked on the phone for about four hours, and maybe once or twice after that. He was rarely online, so I never had the opportunity to talk to him more. Well, years went by. And both of us had completely forgotten about each other, when one day I saw him on the all powerful Facebook as a person that I might know (even though we had no mutual friends and no common networks, it was strange), so I sent him a message. I guess it’s a good thing I’m good with names. He had no recollection of talking to me all of those years ago. After messaging each other for about a week we decided to meet up, and we’ve been together ever since!

    • Jill Kushner


  • Jason Reddish

    You found someone hilarious online and built up an entire fantasy persona that caused you to miss an Olympic ceremony worth of red flags. I think that’s the lesson I learned from my first online dating stints. I found my awesome, hilarious, hot girlfriend online, and we hit it off by tickling each other’s funny bones. I think the trick is to meet in person in a daylight environment quickly. We called it the mid-week Internet-induced pre-date.

    Check out and follow @LateNightEarly for daily topical jokes and other funny stuff interspersed.

    • Jill Kushner

      Oh, I saw the red flags. And redefined red flag warning to red flag exciting. 😉 I chose to be surrounded by red flags for a while. Guess I wanted to live in Drama Town for a minute. But did learn a lot.

  • Medali Castro

    I met a guy in an online game once and it was a total nightmare because we didn’t meet each other so everything got all dreamy and awesome and then turned into a horrible situation.
    But later, I met this other guy in a dating site. Having learned from my past experience I decided to check him out for 2 weeks through chat and email, with very casual conversations. I didn’t want to make those “deep connection” talks because that proved a mistake before. Then we met irl. Now we have been together for about a year and a half.

    • Jill Kushner

      Yup, totally get it! And psyched to hear about your current relationship, girl!

  • Mary Rutherford Pierce

    I met my husband online on a dating sight. By then I had several years of internet dating under my belt, including one horribly misguided year-long ‘long-distance’ relationship that included the inevitable crash and burn once it saw the light of the real world. That is a lot of time and energy wasted, folks.

    Online dating is just another way to meet people, since very few of us have aunties who can set us up with the nice guy/girl who works at their bank/hairdressers/doctor’s office. My rule of thumb became 1) no relationships with people further away than a 2 hour drive and 2) if neither of you want to meet within a week or so, move on, it’s just phantom connection.

    • Jill Kushner

      Love this: “since very few of us have aunties who can set us up with the nice guy/girl who works at their bank/hairdressers/doctor’s office.” :)

  • Liz Haebe

    I feel like online dating is like shopping on Amazon.Com and frankly, I have way more fun buying books and renting from Amazon than I do in choosing a potential life-mate. At least with my books and movies, I get some sort of satisfaction right away, but with dating, you get worried, you get stressed, and sometimes you get psycho’s. It’s a rough world, the dating pool, and while it’s easy to click ‘yes’ and ‘no’ on dating surveys, no amount of filtering, perusing, deleting or spamming is going to get you out of a crazy date. Unless, you know, you jump out the window. I’m so glad my books never take a flying leap out of a window.

    • Jill Kushner

      Ha, true!

  • Rose Browne

    I agree wholeheartedly about getting on a real date right away. Currently seeing an awesome man I met through a dating website (thank you, okcupid!), but to be fair- I’ve gone out with my fair share of duds from the same site. I will say that all those duds are now seeming worth it compared to how happy I am now! And I never would have met him IRL- we live in different areas of LA, go to different colleges, and are pretty firmly entrenched in our own worlds. Ok all in all, I’m just really stoked about it, and am riding the “we met online and he wasn’t a total freak” high.

    • Jill Kushner

      Nice!!! Sounds good!!!

  • Victoria Elizabeth Byerley

    I met my boyfriend on the Relient K Message Boards. We’ve been together for quite some time now and even though we have a rough time sometimes, we make it work. I’m currently studying abroad in England so it makes our already long distance relationship even more difficult but we love each other!

    • Jill Kushner

      Aw, sweet!!!

  • Jena Evans-Turnbull

    I love the honesty in this post! I am sure we have all been addicted to the drama, in many different forms at some point or another!

    • Jill Kushner

      Thanks, Jena!!!

  • Jessica Kate

    I have been dating online(
    ) since 1 year and earlier i met some jerks but it was easy to figure out if they were jerks or not and then i met my boyfriend and we have been dating for six months and we are happy and i found myself lucky to get such a lovely person in my life. I am sure he is quite sincere when it comes to me.

    • Jill Kushner

      That’s awesome!

  • Michelle Diane Trimble

    I met my fiance on Facebook, and we are getting married on our 3 year anniversary next August

    • Jill Kushner

      Whew hew!!! Congrats, Michelle!!!

  • Elisabeth Miller

    Yeah, I’ve done JDate. It was actually pretty good. I was also very, very picky. As I still don’t have a boyfriend, maybe I should be less picky…

    • Jill Kushner

      Hear ya!

  • Cindy Masaro

    Hi Jill and others who have posted comments…your stories and comments are all very interesting. I’m a researcher examining how new ways of communicating (including online dating) influence relationship development and sexual decision making in women 25 and older. There really is no info available about this…other than what online dating sites tell us. If any of you would like to help shed more light on this topic, please complete my survey at

  • Jessa Blackburn

    Hey, feel free to check out my blog post about online dating and a few of the “bumps” you might hit along the way 😉
    Loved this post! thanks :)

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