I am no stranger to internet dating. I first signed up in the summer of 2006, when my first serious relationship finally ended after a long, slow death. I was on the rebound with a vengeance and it suited my needs perfectly. But then
something weird happened- I felt, almost unable to let go.
As I was getting my life back together, it seemed like it was a comfort thing, a tool to get my fix for attention and adoration from all my "fans". After years of being put down all the time and "changed" it felt nice to have strange men compliment me and compete for my affections. It made me feel good to be liked for who I am, and, in all honesty, helped me (inadvertently) get back a self-esteem that I had long forgotten about.
The years passed by and with each short relationship, I drifted away and came back to online dating several times. It almost seemed like an addiction, how I would get high on myself and think "I don't need this shitty site, look at me!" only to leave and be called back to it once more, dependent on my need for "love". Begrudgingly I would set up a new account in the hope that I would find someone who actually liked me.
See, this is the weird thing about internet dating, is that all these people are mixed in with you, talking to you, and competing with you. It becomes a place where people victimize others, manipulators come out of hiding, and the social outcasts become the dominant force. Give a man a mask and his true face is revealed!
Suddenly I was getting hatemail from anything to short messages just to tell me I was ugly, to these elaborately laid out essays on how I was a jerk because I didn't like short guys, or because I preferred one trait over another. Men who messaged me previously, whom I didn't respond to, or whom I rejected, would flame, report and send me the most evil messages I have ever heard. Some of these hate-letters I received on Valentine's Day, of all days.
First of all, since when is it "incorrect" to have physical preferences? Honestly, I have found the majority of the best looking, most charismatic guys on the particular site I use are shorter than 5'10; Unfortunately for me, inherently I posses a gene that prohibits me from being attracted to men who aren't significantly taller than me. It's definitely not personal, just a preference, but I get flamed for it a lot.
And then the dates... Some of the dates I have been on are scary to even talk about, to be honest. Some people, let me tell you, are just plain lying. I have met men who looked nothing like their picture. I've met guys who were completely awkward and abrasive. I have been on dates with guys who insulted me, yelled at me, and made fun of my appearance, among other things.
Let me just say, I am not an ugly person, on the inside or the outside. I treat everyone close to me with respect and courtesy, and if they need help, I will do whatever they need as long as it's within my capability. I have been called "pretty" and would consider myself a fairly attractive woman. So when I get insults like these, it really hurts my pride and makes me feel crappy, mostly because I know it's untrue and I feel stupid for letting it bother me.
Also, I would like to touch briefly on how unimaginably crazy some people on these sites are. Ladies, please be careful! Please! As an experienced person in the realm of internet dating, I want to personally warn you that some of the men on these sites are predators: Plain and simple. I have been stalked, harassed, physically beaten, yelled at, abandoned (left stranded), threatened and mentally abused by men I have met on these sites. No joke.
There have been a lot of good experiences, as well as bad ones, and I suppose the good is what has kept me coming back to the site so many times. I want to have faith that I will meet someone decent to spend time with, because I have met some really amazing people. I have a new group of friends from various walks of life and experiences, whom I adore, thanks to one of the most popular sites. I have had many friends come in and out of my life, and I appreciate them all for being there, as long or as little time I had them.
As for the men I have dated, I have met some very amazing men whom I wish things would have worked out with. There have been men who weren't quite a fit, but whom I respect greatly and know they are wonderful people. There have been some I tried to convince myself I was made for, even.
The years have passed and I finally have come into my own as a person, and I am realizing that, in one way or another, we are all broken. Maybe that's what has brought me back again and again, the knowledge that on these sites, these people understand that part of me, the broken part. They understand loneliness and solitude, and a longing for something that seems unattainable. I am also finding that, the more I love myself, and know myself, the less I need to care about what these strange men think of me or their love-hate-filled letters. I find myself appreciating the compliments I get, but not really "needing" them as I craved them before. I am discovering that the more I understand myself, the more insight into the actions of others; I see through their actions, and most of all, the easier it becomes to separate the ones who are worth my time, and those who are not.
Overall, I think the whole internet dating scene is a great venue for meeting friends and business networking above all. As far as romantically, I have personally never dated anyone from those sites for more than 3 months in the 3+ years I've been using them, so I can tell you from experience that I would not foresee long-term potential from this medium, for several reasons. However, I do believe that everyone is different, and I know of several people who have gotten married to people they met online. That has not been my personal experience in the least, however, I am a keeper of the faith.
I do believe in love, and believe me, I love being in love. I refuse to be a slave to it, though, and settle for less than what I am happy with for the sake of being "attached" to someone. I truly believe you need to love yourself before you can love another, and when the time is right for me, my Knight will come and seek me out. Until then, I'm putting away my internet profile ladies and
gents, because in all honesty (and in my opinion)- It sucks.
Samantha Hlavacek is a proud contributing author and writes many types of content from
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