Social Question

SuperMouse's avatar

Is it possible to be "dating" someone you've never met in real life?

Asked by SuperMouse (30738 points ) January 12th, 2013

I’ve been watching a lot of Catfish lately. The show was created by a guy who “fell in love” with a woman online who turned out to be someone completely different when he tracked her down. His show helps people meet people they have met online. Sometimes they are who they say they are and sometimes they are not. The thing is that most of these people say they are dating this person. How on earth can someone say they are dating or are exclusive with someone they have never even met in real life? I just don’t get it and I am wondering what The Collective thinks.

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26 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t think so. Doesn’t dating imply…well, dates? You can’t go on a date with someone you’ve never seen.

I thought I’d seen all the episodes of Catfish and I haven’t seen one person be exactly who they claimed to be. Did I miss something?

I watch that show purely for entertainment provided by stupid and/or gullible people that believe whatever is said to them and can’t be bothered to do their own research before calling Nev to the rescue.

jca's avatar

I’ve never seen the show Catfish but I have seen the documentary by the same guy (same name Catfish) and it was one of my all time fave documentaries. I don’t get how someone can be exclusively “with” someone they never actually met.

I can tell you when I see what one of my exes puts on FB and what he puts on other social networking sites is nothing like what he is in real life, so if that’s just an example of the deception out there, beware!

SuperMouse's avatar

@jca my ex-husband’s profile did the same thing! He said he graduated from a college in a state he has never visited and that he had a fabulous job earning all kinds of money! Full on lies!

blueiiznh's avatar

Isn’t the mind a wonderfully scary thing.

My Magic 8 Ball says : ”● My sources say no”

marinelife's avatar

No you cannot be dating them. Dating is experiencing shared things together. Online is just sitting alone at your computer fantasizing.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I think it depends on how used to using the internet you are.

For example, I have a business partner. I have never met him, I have never seen him, and I have never heard his voice. All I have from him is text, however when we talk, I feel like I am having a face to face conversation.

Sure, you can trick people easy online, but you can also trick people easy in real life. You could meet a girl online, only to discover it is actually a man, but you could also meet a girl in a night club, only to discover it is a man.

If two people talk online often enough, and they are honest enough, and they use the internet so much that to them it is as good as face to face, you could get away with calling it dating.

In most cases, no, they are not dating, but in some cases I would argue they are.

I actually met my fiance online, I spoke with her online for years and years before finally meeting her face to face. While I never actually asked her out until we met face to face, it was obvious before meeting that there was going to be a relationship when we did eventually meet. I would say, that for the last couple of months before finally meeting, when we already had all the flights booked, if we had decided to call that dating, we would have indeed been dating, with even more legitimacy than some couples who go on a blind date and call it a date.

Shippy's avatar

The person I am ‘dating’ as you call it here I have known for nine years now.

We met in a fun way, meaning I certainly was not looking for a partner. Nor was he. I had then a full time job, and a social life, with loads of friends and was functioning well.

I was what some would term a catch. You know professional position, the car, the right home, designer clothes, and was climbing higher and higher up the corporate ladder.

Much of our dialogue in those days were fun, for laughs. I was on the net, to relax, since my work days were often ten hour long at best.

After ten years, being on cam, talking emailing, sharing, the good the bad and the really downright ugly, we are in love. Yet I have never met him. We have shared deaths, joys, heartache, illness and my own bipolar for example. I am going to meet him soon, within the next few months. It is weird, it is scary. We talk all day constantly everyday in some form or another. To see him in real life to hold him, will be strange. It is a mix of happiness, fear, and of course my spirit knowing this is home. But if worse comes to worst he is my soul mate, and best mate too.

burntbonez's avatar

I think you can spend a lot of time with someone online. You could have “dates” without getting together physically. You can do long phone calls every night. You can go to bed together on the phone, or using videochat. You could spend more time together than you would if you were dating physically.

So what is that? Dating? A relationship? Nothing? I vote we let people have their own say. If they think they are dating, then they are dating.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think you can call ‘communicating’ with someone online dating in the conventional sense of the word. I do believe people can make strong emotional connections through online interaction. It’s as real as meeting up with someone once a week and saying you are dating. I don’t believe you can really be 100% sure how accurate those feelings are until you meet the person in real life. The way a person smells, feels, reacts and behaves over a prolonged period of time may be quite different to the image they are presenting online. If you have a disagreement online you can switch off the computer – you can’t do that with a person sitting in front of you.

wundayatta's avatar

I agree with @Bellatrix, that it’s hard to say that online communication is like dating. You really need personal interaction in order to know a person. Yet, at the same time, you can learn a lot about a person and maintain a relationship with a person online.

I also agree with @burntbonez that if someone calls it dating, then that’s what it is for them. It’s just a word. Does it really matter what people call it? It’s what it means to them that counts.

SuperMouse's avatar

@wundayatta I agree 100% that is more about what people mean then the label they put on it. The truth is that no matter what one calls it, I just have a hard time understanding how anyone can consider themselves as being in a relationship with someone they have never actually met.

wundayatta's avatar

What don’t you understand?

Shippy's avatar

@SuperMouse So what would you call that which I have been doing for nine years with this person?

SuperMouse's avatar

@wundayatta a relationship consists of spending time with someone and getting to know who that someone really is, that just seems flat out impossible without ever having met each other or even seeing each other in real life. Since I posted this question I have been contemplating the episodes of Catfish I have seen. There was not a single one where the person someone thought they had been communicating with was who they said they were. How can one consider themselves dating someone who they cannot really say they actually know?

I admit to having friendships with people I have only met online. I have grown friendly with several people I have met through this and other websites. I have even met some of those people in real life. While I do consider them friends, I really wouldn’t think of them as a bestie because we don’t actually know each other. Each of us only knows what the other wants us to know.

As I have mentioned before that I am active on another website that caters to people living with spinal cord injuries. I continue to be shocked and amazed by the fact that at least monthly someone comes on to get advice about a relationship they began online and after years of talking and “getting to know each other” found out their sweetheart actually has a spinal cord injury. I can tell you that living with a spinal cord injury is kind of a big deal and is at least a little important to reveal early on in a relationship. It boggles my mind to think that someone could be “dating” someone and not even know they are quadriplegic!

@Shippy I think I would call it a relationship, but unless you spend time together in real life I just can’t see my way clear to calling it dating.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I believe that you can date someone online especially if you spend so much time with them, know their life, their likes, dislikes, share highs and lows. You can do so much together, see each other, talk to each other so yes it is dating even more so now with mobile phones where that person can be with you in one form or another all the time.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Shippy you know how I feel about you; you are one of my very favorite jellies! I am asking this completely out of curiosity and not to be snarky. If you are in any way offended please know it wasn’t intentional and don’t hesitate to tell me I am out of line. With all that being said, I am wondering, what has kept you from meeting in person all these years? How is it coming to the point where you are finally able to meet?

Shippy's avatar

@SuperMouse Sure I agree all relationships take time, and consist of spending time getting to know one another, but if I add up 10 years, at an average of 5 hours per day, which has escalated to more than that, its around 18 250 hours. Of real talk, failures, farts and all loll.

We were friends for about seven years, had no desire to meet him in real life. He is not even my type, at all. But, as a friend he was awesome. Best sense of humor and I found myself just wanting to spend more time with him. I’d turn down real life propositions just to spend time with him.

I know you not being snarky at all. I find the whole topic very interesting. I haven’t smelled his smell, touched him, as I said in my earlier post. So I have that feeling of uncertainty. But if he was removed from my life it would be like a death to me.I’m selling my home to meet him, is how. Prior to that as I said I had no desire to, we were friends.

We talk on cam, I see his home, where he is, he has shared photo’s of my life, and all about me. Perhaps the show you watch is about failure as if not, there would be no show?

Bellatrix's avatar

Isn’t what we share online more of an edited view of ourselves than we can ever maintain in real life @Shippy. We can turn off the computer when the person irritates us or we don’t want to interact. You can’t do that with a person in real life. I also think senses such as touch, smell, taste all add to the connection we have with another person.

I have friends online too and I have even met a couple of people I thought were potential relationship material only to discover the connection in real life wasn’t what it had appeared to be in my mind. I’m not saying it can’t work. I know we have jellies here who have met online and have successful relationships, but I don’t think until you are there, in person, you can be sure. So, I would be reluctant to say I was dating a person online.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Shippy thanks for the info and here’s hoping you love how he smells! Ever since I met and fell in love with my husband I have been of the firm belief that one knows true love by the smell!

If you don’t mind my asking, have the two of you ever had a fight? That question crossed my mind as I was @Bellatrix recent response. I mean she is right, online one can always put their best face forward and click off the camera if things get too tense.

Shippy's avatar

@Bellatrix True and I have warned him in advance when he needs to get out of my space he does. I have huge space needs. He knows that, so he better stick to that agreement loll. I do agree on it being different when you meet. To physical factors. But my soul adores him. And to me, he is the most significant person in my life. Aside from my son.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

This argument about not “knowing” someone if they are just online is a bit of a cop out argument because you can take this same idea and apply it to any walk of life. What about the person you have worked beside 5 days a week for 10 years? Do you really know them? What about the person next door?

Shippy's avatar

@SuperMouse Yes we do fight. I am so irritating who would not fight with me loll. I am the aggressive one, he is the passive aggressive.

SuperMouse's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine please don’t consider this an argument. I am really just trying to understand a mindset that doesn’t make sense to me. I apologize if you find it offensive, that is so not my intention here.

The thing about the person you work with five days a week for ten years is that it seems unlikely that without spending time together outside of that environment and getting to know each other on a different level, it is highly unlikely that they would describe themselves as dating or being in a relationship with one another.

@Shippy thanks for answering, that is so interesting!

Shippy's avatar

@SuperMouse I think its a GQ because more and more people do meet online, some not so good experiences and others great I’d imagine. I am here on this thread to listen maybe learn. No offense taken at all. If it hadn’t happened to me, I’d have been very very dubious. :)

hearkat's avatar

I was on online dating sites for a couple years, and I met my fiancé online (but not on a dating site). I believe that it is possible to get to know someone online. However, to do so, one has to have maturity and a realistic outlook. Those who get duped are the ones who are looking to be rescued and live happily ever after – the hopeless romantics.

Building a relationship online takes commitment from both parties, and can certainly be done. Being real and emotionally intimate is a truer measure of a relationship than physical intimacy.

burntbonez's avatar

I’ve had a number of online relationships. Most of them did not last very long—from a few weeks to a few months. But some of them lasted longer. One started as a romantic relationship, eventually consummated in person, but later it turned into a very solid friendship. My best friend, really.

I’ve learned that no matter how honest you think you are, you can’t tell someone everything. You can’t remember everything. You don’t even know everything about yourself. And then there are all the things you don’t think to tell.

My friend and I had some strange struggles on the way. We found that we would read each other very wrongly, and take offense at things that weren’t meant offensively. After a while, we had to abandon email and chat. We had to talk to each other, or we’d get into fights. Now we will either text each other, or talk.

We only met once, and I guess kids might call it a hookup. We discovered that’s not what we wanted to be together, but we valued our phone conversations more than anything. We make each other laugh. We help each other. We’re always there for each other, although it’s been years since we actually got together. I consider her my best friend. She knows everything there is to know. All my medical issues. My financial troubles. The losses I’ve dealt with.

It started online. It’s still pretty much virtual, in that all we do is talk on the phone once every other week or so. We aren’t dating, but we could have been, had things turned out that way. It just wasn’t right for us. But friendship is right.

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