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Shippy's avatar

How do you reconcile the person you imagined, and the person you then meet?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) October 2nd, 2012

I have spent some years on the Net, sometimes frivolously, for fun and laughs, other times I have made “connections” with certain people. Emails can be swapped, chats, deep conversations, and resulting in soul sharing lasting friendships. I have also fallen in love. Mostly with their soul, as I cannot see them. So I “feel” them through the words they type.

A couple I have known years, before seeing them. This may be on web cam, or maybe in person for some. Often they look sort of how I imagined. Sometimes they are completely different to how I imagined. What if, you felt very much connected to a certain person, spent loads of time with them, shared and even felt loving towards them and they turned out to be vastly different than you imagined? How do you reconcile this in your mind? Does it matter?

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12 Answers

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I think it all comes down to the way in which they are different as to whether or not you can get your head around it and at times it can probably tell you a lot more about the person than you have managed to learn about them in the time you have been emailing or whatever.

I know I have heard of stories of people meeting after emails and when it comes to looks they are the complete opposite to the image they portrayed online. (the one I’m thinking of the person was talking about how they were thin when in reality they were anything but thin) However, with an example like that I think I would see them as feeling insecure about their real size so that would not be something that is really nasty.

I think overall if it was their looks that were different, then that is probably easier to get your head around than their character being different (unless different in a positive way) as it would be difficult to like someone who appears to be all nice and friendly from behind a screen, but a pain in the you know where when you simply cannot hit that x in the corner or log off.

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine I found it interesting you used thin vs fat in your answer? Is size important to you?

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy oh no I just used that example as I remembered reading a story once whereby a guy was wanting to sue this girl as she portrayed herself as being thin online when in actual fact she was the opposite.

To me it is the consistency of their character that is the most important part, but if someone portrayed themselves as a supermodel and they were the complete opposite, then you would have to think about the reasons why they felt the need to do that. I think that is the part that my mind would focus on.

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine I doubt very much there are many people posing as super models? In fact most people I have met have warned me they are “nothing to look at”, just regular guys or girls. Then often I am very surprised to see they are in fact sometimes beautiful. I might be putting you in a spot, not meaning too, just curious but are looks important to you? And also how do you describe yourself to people you chat to on the net, looking wise?

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy I do tell them that my picture on here is not an accurate photograph of me. I tend to steer away from describing myself, but then I have never really described myself in any format so it’s not just limited to the net.

For me it is the person inside that is the key as I am sure we have both met people who look amazing, but inside they are either empty or just horrible people so I do believe that beauty is indeed only skin deep and it is how they are inside that is the important part at least to me anyway.

flutherother's avatar

I know very well what you mean by the ‘connections’ that can be made online as it has happened to me. You might say I ‘fell in love’ online. I met a person on a site (not Fluther) and I was simply captivated by her writing and her artistic sense. I felt I knew her very well, intimately well I would say, though I knew somehow that we would never meet as that wouldn’t work and would spoil it.

We lead quite different lives and in many ways we are opposites of each other but we somehow have this bond. There is hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her but no, we will never meet. We cannot be closer than we already are. I found out to my surprise after a couple of years that she was outstandingly beautiful.

wds2's avatar

I think this has an awful lot to do with your perception. Your mind will often shape how you perceive the world based on predisposed positions you may have. Say, for instance, you have talked to a girl on the internet and find yourself very compatible, as far as communication goes. like @flutherother says, he saw this woman after making a connection with her. I believe his view on her beauty was shaped (partially) by the fact that he/she already likes her a lot.

Also, people find those that they love to be most beautiful to them. Even if some people think a particular person is not attractive, someone who loves that person might think the very opposite.

Bellatrix's avatar

Whether it matters depends on my hopes for the relationship. If I was hoping (and the other person shared a similar hope) for a platonic friendship, I wouldn’t care what they look like, or how old they are, or any other superficial elements.

If I was hoping for a romantic relationship, how the person looks would matter to me. I would think in that circumstance I would have asked to see photographs though and I would expect the photographs would honestly reflect what that person looks like now. Not a 10 year old photograph.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@Bellatrix pretty much nailed it on the head there.

My experience of meeting people after having communicated with them on the internet is pretty limited, which in some respects is a blessing.
I’ve seen only a handful of people on camera, and the last experience alone was enough for me to just not bother posting a single picture of me up ever. And I’m sticking to it.
As for meeting people in person, I’ve only met two people from the internet, and one looked almost like the picture that was posted, and that kind of threw me a little. I think people who post pictures up in a particular way so as not to appear the way they really are indicates they aren’t comfortable with the way they look in reality. By that I mean taking a picture in a certain light, or in a particular posture so as to give the impression of being either fat or thin, or muscular or not or whatever else you happen to add to that list.
Anyway, that first person did that. And they didn’t look the way you’d think they would judging by what that individual posted.
The second person I met I had no issues with.

snapdragon24's avatar

You know @Shippy, you reminded me of a difficult story that happened years ago! I met someone online via a friend. He lives in Brasil and sometimes I go there to visit my family so I figured I’d have the chance of meeting him. We spent 7 months chatting and I really fell inlove with the person! I even web cammed with him and somehow he looked nothing like he did on cam once I met him…he was nothing like I imagined and unfortunately a part of me lost alot of interest…and he really suffered from it. I think building bonds via communication platforms doesnt necessarily portray the reality of things…such as: is this person really confident in real life, how much of a friend or boyfriend material is he.how good looking is he, how much would we really connect in the physical world etc. Basically how reliable is this all?

Shippy's avatar

@snapdragon24 That is a sad, and scary story. I also met someone once, saw her photos, saw her on cam etc., in real life she was completely creepy. I ran away literally. I have been chatting to someone for nine nearly ten years on the net. I hope this doesn’t happen to us!!

snapdragon24's avatar

Well 9/10 years is a long time @Shippy! You should have a solid idea no? :)

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