Call me a Luddite. Call me a hopeless romantic who’s out of touch with the times. Just share your thoughts with me in person, for it is there in our human encounter that we can establish an authentic and meaningful relationship.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion in Internet dating sites. Today, rather than going into the world to find a romantic partner, we sit alone in front a computer and shop for the man or woman of our dreams.
On the surface, this seems like an efficient way of fulfilling our romantic needs. Internet dating sites provide an unending pool of potential mates to choose from. They contain features to focus our search and “weed out” people who don’t meet our “ideal.” The trouble, however, is that love does not happen on the surface. It requires a deep commitment to the randomness of life and the use of our five senses.
Several weeks ago one of my patients was complaining about her inability to find a mate online. A beautiful, smart and successful woman who just turned 40, she dated a series of men she met on a popular Internet dating site, but was disillusioned with the process. “I feel like they’re not fully present when we finally meet,” she sighed. “It’s as if they can’t wait for the date to be over so they can go and check their email to see if someone younger, prettier and more successful responded to their profile … it’s like I’m in a beauty pageant nightmare where I’m critically judged and constantly rejected.” In our last session she informed me that she “took her profile down” and, as a result, was feeling more confident and better about herself.
I tell her story because it points out the dangerous nature of Internet dating. Rather than providing a wealth of romantic options, it robs us of the opportunity to use our gifts of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing to connect. Love is not found by methodically filling out a profile, but in living life fully through our five senses. It’s found in the leap in our chest when we see a certain someone walk into a crowded room, from the scent of their skin, the sound of their voice, the feeling of their skin against ours, and the deliciousness of their kiss.
If Internet dating is letting you down, take a break from it. Give yourself a month to explore your world through your senses. Instead of narrowing your search to computer generated questions, open yourself up to the richness, mystery and randomness of life.
Love is waiting for you to stumble upon it. Allow it to flow in.