Published: Good Men Project (June 16, 2015)
An interview with dating consultant Laura Gub on the kinds of love we’re least likely to trust.
Last week the Internet was sent into a tizzy over news that actress Lark Voorhies, best known for her starring role in the ’90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” had married a man she’d known less than a year… and met on Facebook. Since then, Voorhies’ mother has spoken out against her daughter’s relationship, accusing husband Jimmy Green of being a gang member exploiting her daughter’s psychologically fragile state.
This raises an interesting question: At a time when 38 percent of “single and looking” American adults have used online dating or mobile app sites, is it possible to actually fall in love with someone you know primarily online?
For answers, I turned to Laura Gub, a professional dating consultant who has written for various dating websites and blogs and specializes in profile editing/writing and general dating guidance.
1. Do you believe it’s possible to either fall in love with someone after only knowing them for a brief time and/or falling in love with someone who you only know from afar (whether online or any other way)?
It is possible to fall in love with someone whom you only know for a short time, and you know it when you get that feeling that “you know each other for ages”, simply because you’re thinking alike and are well suited for each other in many other ways, lifestyle, values and where you’re at in life. I know at least 3 couples from my close surroundings that fell in love almost like wildfire and are still solid a few years down the line, married or planning to, expecting babies or planning to.
Falling in love with someone from afar is a whole different thing though. You can, but you fall in love with the idea of them. If that idea matches reality, then it’s a win win situation. But you won’t know before actually meeting them and spending time with them. Real connection needs to involve all 5 senses.
2. How do you believe people can tell if what they think is love is “real?”
Love has stages. Infatuation is the first stage. We see this person as perfection itself, or very near perfection. Over time we can get to know each other in depth, especially if the couple do something challenging together, like going away on a trip or collaborating on a work project. If the relationship survives moving on from the infatuation phase, they’ll know it’s real.
3. What things should men be cautious about if they start to fall in love with someone they’ve never met?
They should make sure the person in the photos is for real, thus a Skype chat shouldn’t be a problem.
They should be cautious if the person asks for too many details about them (identity fraud) or asks them for financial help.
Even if it all feels very real, they should know that what they feel is mostly down to their imagination, as besides how this person presents themselves and “sells” themselves, they’ve got nothing to go on and we all tend to fill in the blanks with the way we wish that person should be.
4. Same question as #3, but applied to women.
Same as above. Although a virtual relationship could be a strong base for a real one, it can never be real on its own. Big age difference, big geographical differences, big difference in financial status are all things to consider and can be possible red flags.
Without personally knowing Lark Voorhies or her new husband, it’s impossible to determine whether this relationship is a good idea for her. That said, as my conversation with Laura Gub helped me realize, there is no reason why two people can’t fall in love simply because they haven’t known each other for very long or primarily interact online. The key is being pragmatic: Until you’ve met someone in person, you can’t gauge the extent to which your “love” is based more on an infatuation with the idea of that person rather than their flesh-and-blood reality. All relationships need to overcome an initial “infatuation” phase, and this is as true for two people who met in person but haven’t known each other for very long as it is for individuals who are required to communicate over long distances. Finally, you have to remember that the world is full of people who will take advantage of you, be it for money, sex, or the sheer thrill of successfully duping a stranger as to their identity.
At the same time, there are plenty of successful relationships that began online (after the two parties met at least once, of course), and even flourished for years despite being primarily confined to that medium. Likewise, people have fallen in love with each other almost immediately and managed to make the relationship work. As long as you have an open mind, anything can happen. It’s just a matter of thinking smart as well as thinking with your heart.