I’ll take awkward first dates and tongue-tied flirting over perfectly-crafted emails and clever photo comments any day.
I was working at Starbucks when I first met my boyfriend, and I’ll never forget our first interaction. He ordered a grande strawberries and cream frappuccino then proceeded to ask if there was coffee in it. I thought that was a pretty ignorant thing to ask, so without thinking, I abandoned all social skills and asked him, “Are you an idiot?”
That initial, flawed, unscripted conversation somehow was the catalyst to a five-year relationship, and it was one of those mortifying moments that couldn’t have happened over the Internet.
It seems more people are falling in love online instead of face to face, and that leaves me feeling nostalgic for real-life relationships.
Let’s be honest: The Internet is a glorious tool that allows us to put our best selves on display. Thanks to the Internet, I can ensure I look flawless, I’m quick-witted, clever and, of course, smooth. But that’s just not me. I’m flawed; we’re all flawed, but isn’t that part of the magic of loving another human?
My parents married 12 days after they met. Twenty-something years later, my mom still talks about their first date seeing “Pretty Woman” and my dad’s dorky haircut. My dad gets starry-eyed when talking about the pink polka dot dress she wore the day they eloped. However, I don’t recall ever hearing stories about exciting friend requests or compatible dating profiles.
I understand my parents are a tad eccentric, but I think they’ve got something figured out — you get to know and fall in love with someone through genuine experiences together.
Facebook, Okcupid, Instagram, Match.com or any online dating site cannot be a source of genuine experiences because we can’t help but censor ourselves online. We tend to prefer the convenient situations we can control, but great love doesn’t derive from controlled, comfortable environments.
Listen, I understand that one’s local pool of perspective dates could be scarce and online dating could seem vital, but it’s just not. What did our parents and grandparents do when potential dates where slim? They went out more. They traveled. They pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and continued on in the great hunt.
Give me sweaty palms and nervous hand holding. Give me stupid jokes and stuttering compliments. Give me bad hair days and spinach in the front teeth. These are the things that help us learn about each other. These are the things we laugh about 50 years down the road.
When I was first dating my boyfriend, I drove a ’95 Camaro that was completely unreliable, but it had a loud, roaring muffler I was embarrassingly proud of. I tried desperately to impress him with my driving skills on one of our first dates, but in my efforts, I nearly blew my transmission in the Target parking lot. It’s an event that we still laugh at, and I like to believe it was a moment of vulnerability that added worth to our relationship.
At the end of the day, online relationships can’t provide the vital and sometimes uncomfortable aspects needed in a relationship. Real relationships with real experiences are the things I want to one day tell my grandchildren about because those are the things that are truly valuable.