A couple married minutes after meeting in person for the very first time. They'd met on Instagram and fell in "love at first click."
Do you believe in love at first sight? What about love at first click?
This couple wrote poems for each other, posted photos, and I'm guessing Skyped and Facetimed for a year before they finally met. They arranged to get married as soon as he landed at the airport and they shared their first kiss.
I wish these two lovebirds well. They seem totally into each other. But isn't it easy to be totally into someone when you don't know them well enough yet to see their faults? When you've only known them through emojis and clicks? (And don't get me wrong, I'm a total fan of meeting people online. Here's my account of meeting my boyfriend online.)
Online love is easy. Real life, living, breathing, communicating love is hard.
After being married for a very long time, I suddenly found myself single and dating again. It was easy to get infatuated with someone you just met. In first-date-short-hand they seem perfect. Anyone can be charming over an hour long lunch.
But I've come to realize: first dates and first impressions are like movie trailers. They show you the best parts to try and get you to watch the whole movie.
Whoever said familiarity breeds contempt was obviously married, and probably divorced too. It's easy to imagine you are in love with a handsome man as you sip wine canoodling in a dark corner. It's way more difficult to be in love with someone when you realize they've got a horrible aim, after you step in their urine driblets all around the toilet every single morning. If you still love them after stepping into that stickiness, if you can have sex with them after that, it might be love.
You see a man online. Something about his photo grabs you. Does he remind you of an old boyfriend? That imaginary "perfect" person you've held in your mind since 3rd grade? Something seems to speak to you in his shy smile. You are already creating an impression of who you want, who you expect, this person to be.
But that imaginary person you've already prebuilt, is probably not the flesh and bone person who'll walk in the door when you end up meeting for coffee at Starbucks.
As you spend more time together, the imaginary person you've created falls away and the real person is revealed. That's what you are left with. Can you love this imperfect version?
Going back to the couple that met on Instagram, I hope they prove me wrong. I'd totally love to believe in a magical, angels leaping over rainbows kind of love at first online sight.
But loving someone online is not exactly the same. You get to craft the perfect selfie online. You get to choose the angles and the filter. In real life, there's no filter. People see who you are. Faults and imperfections. #nofilter.
And online, you get to spend hours creating poetry and artwork to post for your beloved. In real life, you don't have hours to craft a response. You have to live and show your love in the moment. Real life doesn't give you the "tools" option to make the picture prettier before you post it. There's no photoshop in a relationship. You can't make the picture any prettier than it really is.
I hope that the happy Instagram couple finds that their Insta-love can make the jump from online to in life. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.
Follow Rosemond Perdue Cranner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rounditrosie
I can't help but take a moment's pause when I hear people profess to have experienced love at first sight; likewise, when men and women recount how they just knew their now-partners were their soul mates within minutes of meeting them. Are these sentiments possible to experience or are they, more likely, the projection of long-held fantasies -- stories people construct to tell themselves and the world around them that they made the best possible decisions in life and love? Frankly, the answer to why people say these sorts of things isn't important to me, but, as a dating coach, what is important is the way others may respond to such notions and impossible standards and the ensuing pressure they may feel to live up to them in their own love lives.
Lust at first sight, yes. Chemistry within minutes of meeting someone, sure. But knowing and feeling love and forever marriage instantly? Sorry, not buying it. In today's heady world of smartphones and texting and Tweeting, we might very well fool ourselves into believing that instant gratification can also apply to matters of the heart. If I can send and receive communication immediately, why can't I be in love with or love someone immediately? Just watch a few episodes of ABC's The Bachelor/ette to see this notion of instant love in action -- within three to four weeks of meeting the Bachelor or Bachelorette, while competing against 25 others for his or her heart, the "contestants" are already falling madly in love and declaring it so to the object of their affection. The phrase is bandied about more than a "get it, girl" at a toddler beauty pageant.
What does it mean to be in love or to love someone in the romantic sense, anyway? It sounds simple, but I think to love someone is to really know that person. But when we throw the term around so liberally, especially before really knowing someone, we ultimately dilute its meaning -- what it actually means to accept someone's heart and to give that person yours, fully. We also, as I mentioned, set up wildly unrealistic expectations for anyone looking for love, as if love has to be something that is experienced immediately.
In my work with women, I am constantly trying to snap them out of their fantasies when it comes to dating and love. It took years for me to learn these lessons: that love isn't about being swept off your feet, quickly winning someone over, feeling that elusive-yet-perfect lightning bolt from the very first meeting or feeling emotionally off-kilter. The seedlings of love begin when you let someone in the door. But, as I have learned, love only flourishes when you allow that person to come inside and stay awhile. It takes time to develop trust, vulnerability and real intimacy. It's not just about the good times and laughs (that's the easy stuff!); it's about loving someone despite their idiosyncrasies. It's not just about great sex (although I would argue that great love alone has the power to bring great sex; great sex alone rarely has the power to bring great love); it's also about feeling a sense of peace, comfort and emotional safety with someone. These things take time to develop.
We can't know if we love someone just by seeing them from across a crowded room; we can't know we are meant to be with someone after ten minutes of meeting them. So when you hear people talk like this, do not feel pressure to measure up to their notions of the perfect love tale. Understand that, often times, these are the fantasies people want to believe in, these are the romantic stories people choose to tell themselves and the world only after their love has had time to grow, after they've had time for a bit of a rewrite.
Follow Neely Steinberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheLoveTREP