Does online chemistry translate into physical chemistry?
December 1, 2005 7:53 AM   Subscribe

So you met someone online and experienced the technological equivalent of the "thunderbolt." You found yourself in love, based only on text, knowing it was crazy. Then you met in person. How did it go?

I'm asking this because I felt so insanely, bizarrely strongly about a guy I knew only through email. It ended for other reasons before we could meet, but now I'm curious to hear stories of whether online chemistry translates when people meet in the real world. Basically, I'm looking for horror stories but since AskMe isn't here just to make me feel better, let's hear about good experiences too. Just don't rub it in too much.
posted by helcat to Human Relations (52 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
See (registration or daypass at salon required)
for a pretty incisive summary of one experience. Matches mine too....
posted by lalochezia at 7:56 AM on December 1, 2005

I had a friend who had that happen to him once. Well, actually two.

One guy travelled from the Maritimes to Arksansas to see this girl, and they were in love, and they visited each other regularly until she moved to the West Coast and it fell apart.

Another guy travelled from the Maritimes to Ottawa to be with his lady, only to find that she had kids and was kicking him out and he was SOL.

So, one story was a typical failed romance,the other a disaster.

Don't discount the importance of physical attraction, however. That's almost always a dealbreaker in these things. Also, beware of any oblique angle overhead handheld myspace photos.
posted by jon_kill at 7:58 AM on December 1, 2005

We got married. Been married for just under 18 months, she moved 5,000 odd miles to live with me in destitution but we're as happy as we've ever been. We've known each other since 2002 and knew pretty much straight away that we wanted this. My best friend at the time also met someone online and moved to New York, he's been happily married for a couple of years to. He's also had his "English" teeth fixed so he can blend in better...
posted by longbaugh at 8:02 AM on December 1, 2005

Don't discount the importance of physical attraction, however. That's almost always a dealbreaker in these things.

This is the kicker. You're correct; online chemistry does not necessarily mean you'll have in-person chemistry. Even if the person is attractive. I've met a handful of boys I've chatted with online, and there was no rhyme or reason to how the words matched up the person. That's why I've given up on online-dating (for the time being, anyway; I'll probably try again come spring)- there's no way to find chemistry online.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:02 AM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

And let's talk about how much of communication is body language, inflection, tone, etc... People I've met in person after an online discussion have always been surprised at how much funnier/laidback I am in real life, when online I just seemed sort of stern and prickish (I'm sure you can find plenty of examples of that here.)

That might have something to do with the rhyme/reason thing ThePinkSuperhero was mentioning.
posted by jon_kill at 8:05 AM on December 1, 2005

We got married. That was 12 years ago (we met on Prodigy). We had seven airplane visits and innumerable hours on the phone before he moved from LA to MN and we got married.
posted by GaelFC at 8:06 AM on December 1, 2005

I guess it was the physical attraction thing I meant to specify. I wanted to know how that initial meeting went after so many great emails. Sloppy question, sorry.
posted by helcat at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2005

I had a pretty big crush on a girl that I only knew from emails and instant messages. She was cute in real life, and we made out, but it never went anywhere.
posted by cmonkey at 8:14 AM on December 1, 2005

This has happened to me many, many times. As much as I want to believe that humans have evolved to the point that intellectual attraction means everything; if someone doesn't make your heart go pitter-pat when you look at them, there's no amount of smart, funny conversation that's gonna light your fire.

I have found that women who I wasn't attracted to physically at first, but was blown away by their brains do tend to grow on me after a period of time; even to the point of sexual attraction/pitter-pat. So I guess sometimes a person's pheromones can grow on you...

Note: I met my girlfriend through craigslist. We had a HORRIBLE first date/meeting. But (luckily for me) she saw something deeper in me than the asshole that showed up for that date, and we kept talking. We now own a condo together. Go figure.
posted by weirdoactor at 8:14 AM on December 1, 2005

A guy. Across the country. Email and phone was awesome. In person, I was repulsed. Bad news all around.
posted by matildaben at 8:17 AM on December 1, 2005

I exchanged emails with someone I met through okcupid, due to my schedule, I wasn't able to meet her or 2-3 weeks. By the time we met, it went really well. We're still dating, and the relationship has been incredible.
posted by drezdn at 8:17 AM on December 1, 2005

not well. not well at all. it was very disappointing (especially physically, but not only. it's when you meet someone face to face you also realize you might have been interpretating them the wrong way).

i have a suspicion that online chemistry is usually doomed because the other person is always going to be different from the picture of that person in our mind (our fantasies. and we always like our fantasies).
posted by mirileh at 8:18 AM on December 1, 2005

My SO and I met during college but we were both in other relationships. Still, we worked together and had mutual admiration for one another but never anything other than "Hey, nice to see you" and a couple of beers after work.

After graduation, I came across his email and we started emailing. The first email was essentially, "Not sure if you remember me but..."

Over time we became each other's confidants and best friends. We were both in other relationships but I suppose we provided to each other the thing that was most lacking in our relationships -- shared interests, intellectual depth, same humor...

After about 4-5 years, when both of our relationships had/were ending we had this was odd, awkward and wonderful. The thing was, I wasn't sure it would be able to translate into a physical attraction. I knew I loved him but I hadn't been attracted to him physically when I first knew him -- not that he wasn't attractive I had just never thought of him that way.

We have now been together almost four years and though like the average relationship we have normal couple issues, he is it for me.

Not sure if this helps but we still think our email courtship, or as we say...falling in love typing in boxes is really fucking romantic. Though, I gotta say that first trip to the airport to pick him up was weird!!! And it is a little weird to actually translate from cyberspace to face to face.
posted by Lola_G at 8:25 AM on December 1, 2005

Hey, weirdoactor, do you think if she knew about the snoring she'd have come back for a second date?? I kid.

I've had a couple experiences with this. In one I belonged to a web forum that had a chat and I had a boring job at the time so basically spent all day talking with this girl. We exchanged pictures, talked on the phone, etc. Then she came to visit. The thing that you don't get on the phone, internet, etc, is how the other person's tastes/likes/dislikes translate into how you will enjoy each other's company. When she finally did come to visit, I realized that her unwillingness to eat anything outside of burgers and pizza and her fear of treading out in the big city on her own and other things that differed in our 'cultural' attitudes about life (I put that in quotes cuz we are both american) made all that initial energy and chemistry disappear.

Now, that's not to say this doesn't happen in real life too - you meet someone at a bar that just from looks and a little flirting sends you head over heels, but then you spend actual time with them and it fizzles...because real life is not a one night stand. So, this is why I try to arrange a face to face as soon as possible if I've been introduced to someone via email or IM - you can immediately find out if the chemistry is there to keep it going in the real world
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2005

I know several people who have fallen madly in love via e-mail, only discover when they met in person that there was no connection at all. Usually the realization was pretty immediate. I now recommend to friends who ask that they not get in too deep before moving it to RL.
posted by alms at 8:29 AM on December 1, 2005

Met online, him in the USA, me in Europe. Gone to the USA 4 times to see him, he has been here 3 times I think. We had the same attraction in real life, like we had online. The emails /chats were very intense, the meetings were doing all the things you can not do on a computer. Relationship ended over different reasons.
posted by kudzu at 8:31 AM on December 1, 2005

Going to ditto on the fell in love online thing and then no connection in real life with a caveat.
Three summers ago, I met a gal online who happened to also be attending the same college as me the upcoming semester. We fell in love online and she planned on visiting UGA for a day where we'd hang out. Luckily, her original intent wasn't solely for me because once we met, it was like, "Crap, nevermind..." However, the next day online, I was like, "Uhhh, so would you be disappointed if we didn't date?" She wasn't and we was been best friends since in real life.
posted by jmd82 at 8:34 AM on December 1, 2005

Met online in a chat room. Fell in love. I moved a couple hundred miles to the other end of the country to be with her.
Initial chemistry was WAY better than I thought it would be when we first actually met.

Relationship currently ending over different reasons though. :(
posted by lemonpillows at 8:36 AM on December 1, 2005

We talked online for a few months. We met in person.

Been living together for nearly five years now. Two more years and I'll have to buy a ring 'cause we'll be common-law married.
posted by jaded at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2005

It translates, but like all translations, it's not an exact thing.
posted by fidelity at 8:44 AM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

My very first long-term SO was met online, and by the time we migrated to the phone I was already smitten. When we met in real life, the progression to dating was an easy one and we were together a few years before it ended like most teenage romances do.

A good friend of mine fell in love with a fellow MMO player and travelled from Calgary, Alberta to TX to meet her after an online courtship. He came home with an entertainingly complicated STD that will likely impact the rest of his life. He and the girl didn't remain an item very long after their meet-up, although to everyone's credit, I really don't think the infection had much to do with that.

Ah, geek love.
posted by chudmonkey at 8:44 AM on December 1, 2005

My ex-roomates met this way. She ended up moving internationally to come and marry him and they are now in the process of divorcing (see my ask.mefi question above). They have been in therapy for two years, but nothing has worked. They just aren't as compatible in real life as they are online.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:45 AM on December 1, 2005

I would like to add that the number of disappointing stories here, compared to the number of good stories, probably isn't all that different from the bad/good ratio of stories about relationships that started in person.

Really, MOST relationships end, many in heartbreak or disappointment...

There's a few extra caveats about meeting people online, but I think there's a few bonuses too if you can get to know some things about them that they might not have revealed as quickly in person...

/only ever met 1 person from online, and it was actually a total coincidence/accident - it was unplanned.
posted by twiggy at 8:53 AM on December 1, 2005

Two stories:

Way back when I used to use AOL, I got an IM out of the blue from this guy. He must have been searching for local people online or something. Normally, I just ignore IMs from strangers but his profile was pretty funny so I replied. Anyway, he was charming, funny, smart and we had complete chemistry.

After chatting online and on the phone for a few weeks, we decided to meet. I wasn't expecting much, keeping in mind that he was the sort who searched for people online to chat with (this was just before everyone and their brother got online and considered online interaction to be the norm). So we met and he was incredibly hot. INCREDIBLY. I was astounded. Chemistry all over the place!

We ended up dating for 6 months or so but eventually it ended. He was in it for marriage, kids, house in the 'burbs, the whole nine yards. While I considered him to be the perfect guy, I just wasn't ready to settle down, especially not after only 6 months. To this day, I kick myself repeatedly for this decision but that's another story.

A couple years before the story above, some friend of a friend was talking up this guy and my friend thought he would be perfect for me. I let her give him my email address and we exchanged emails for a few months, sparks flew, etc. and we met up. We never exchanged pictures. While my friend's friend swore up and down that he was cute, that's all I had to go on.

So we met and it was a disaster. I know it seems shallow but couldn't get past a couple things. First of all, he was dressed like he was auditioning for a boy band. Think tight, tight, tight spandex (not lycra, spandex) mock turtleneck t-shirt, HUGE, long, silver necklace, MC Hammer-like pants. The idea that someone would leave their house dressed like that for a blind date disturbed me but I probably could have gotten past that.

Things I couldn't get past: he was short. Like 5'1 short. At least he was 5'1 on one side; the other leg was significantly shorter. If I had known that he was 5'1 and had a short leg ahead of time, I would have still met him. But if I knew, I wouldn't have had to adjust ASAP and try to pretend not to notice his leg-dragging.

So I was pretty uncomfortable and his incessant rambling about how I was his perfect woman and how soon could he ask me to marry him (he did not reveal any of these nauseatingly schmoopy tendencies in our email correspondence, btw) was making me even more uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable, I walk fast. Really fast. Way faster than his short leg could accommodate. At first I would try to slow down when I caught myself speeding up but slowing down meant having to listen to how many kids he wanted to have with me so after a while I just didn't bother slowing down. It was really awful and I never went out with him again. I know, I'm an evil person and there is a scorching place in hell reserved for me when I die.

The bottom line when it comes to physical chemistry in these situations is that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
posted by necessitas at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

I met someone at work through emails and thought we were hitting it off really well. She seemed way different then anyone else I had ever met. Now I'm not picky, I am old and wise enough to know that looks aren't everything and as long as she didn't weigh 300+ pounds I wasn't worried about it. I arranged to meet her and she turned out to be the ugliest person I had ever seen, she wasn't fat she just had the ugliest face I had ever seen. Now I'm not all that good looking myself but it was really a shock. I didn't let it stop me though I was still interested because she seemed really cool. Looking back on it I wouldn't be surprised if she could detect some disappointment on my face when we first met.

Anyways to make a long story longer even longer I kept pursuing her and about a week later she just stopped all communication with me. I finally got her to respond and she gave me the typical "it's me not you" bullshit. As far as I know she may have not been interested in me because of my looks. All of my experiences with meeting people online has pretty much ended in a similar manner.
posted by Justin Case at 9:20 AM on December 1, 2005

Let me echo alms' and jdm82's (and others' experiences). I met someone online and our extended email correspondence was crazily romantic and chock full of sparkiness, and we exchanged pictures and things still seemed good and promising. I was sharing these emails with friends and we all thought, holy crap, this connection is weirdly amazing!

Then we met in real life and just could not achieve lift off. Just did not feel it, and we both tried so hard over the course of about 5 dates. Things were just different -- his self deprecating humor that came off as charming via email in real life took on a weird edge of desperation; my teasing which in email was flirtatious became less frequent and more friendly rather than romantic.

It was a real disappointment. First, I knew going in that you can't trust the strength of an internet connection until you meet face to face, but I thought the connection was so strong that, dammit, this would be one of the exceptions! But no. And second, I also thought that even if there were no face to face sparks right away, if you really liked someone and spent time getting to know them, those sparks could come later -- this happened to me in high school all the time. But again, no. No matter how lovely we were on paper, we couldn't connect in person.

Now I'm really happy that this particular internet romance failed, but at the time it was depressing. Also, it made me question my judgment and I wound up feeling a bit powerless about the prospect of controlling my destiny: what kind of a person was I when my heart took a whole different and alien position on things than my brain was taking?
posted by onlyconnect at 9:23 AM on December 1, 2005

Well, I'm afraid this one's a happy one.

I first "met" my partner at an online message board back in 1998. This was not any sort of dating site, it was a rough-and-tumble all-purpose board where opinionated gobshites like me thrived and the sort of people who love to whine about protocol on Metatalk experienced great and richly-deserved pain.


We had some lively exchanges. I admired her way with words, her wit and her vicious streak. I started to feel actual attraction based purely on those words. I was not surprised by this: it seemed perfectly natural and reasonable. Physical attraction is very nice but it is the way someone's mind works which is the most attractive thing. I can't be seriously attracted to anyone unless and until I like their mind.

We started emailing. The emails became very long and increasingly frequent. We had things in common. We were about the same age; we had both undergone painful separations recently etc etc. After a few months our emails became... sort of warmly affectionate without anything too overt. You wouldn't say we were cybering, you know?

We had become aware of each others' existence in the April/May of that year. The emailing began in June. In September I took a three week trip to the States and spent the final week in New York. We met on a Friday. There was a pretty instant physical attraction. We had one long, fun night bar-crawling in Williamsburg until 4:00 am. We kissed, and it felt like a whole bunch of cliches (in a good way). By the Monday we were doing a bit more than kissing and we realised we had a logistical problem on our hands, to put it mildly. The following Saturday I returned to the UK.

Much brooding followed. At this stage neither of us could really see any way we could make a go of it, although we both really wanted to. We left it kind of up in the air. Then she flew to London that December for Christmas and we knew for sure we had to try. It was just so strong.

There followed just over three years of what a good friend of mine referred to as the "Transatlantic Love Commute". We managed to see each other something like one week out of every seven - largely because I could fiddle some very creative application of my company's holiday rules.

In March 2002 I finally managed to get a contract out here. It was initially scheduled to last until June 2003. I'm still here. We're still together. We're still happy.

So yes, it can work. :-)
posted by Decani at 9:26 AM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

I met him online in 2000. We'd only met face-to-face one time before he moved in with me, and that was 5 months after we started chatting online, and it was another year before I saw him again -- the day he moved in. He moved in with me (from Arizona to Chicago) in 2001.

We got married in 2004. I love him and he loves me. I would have never met him without the internet. I often think that since our "courtship" was all communication (email, eventually phone was added in) it helped a lot.
posted by macadamiaranch at 9:36 AM on December 1, 2005

Basically, like everyone's stories are showing you, it can be totally hit or miss. Mine was one of the misses. About a year ago I hit things off with a friend of a friend who had emailed me out of the blue. In email we flirted fantastically, and had great conversations. In person... eh. There was some chemistry there, but our interaction was so much more stilted and awkward than it had been in writing. We've managed to transition to an ok friendship, I think, but even though there's a possibility that I could be moving to his city in a couple of months for a job, there's absolutely no desire on my part to restart anything of a romantic nature.
posted by MsMolly at 9:52 AM on December 1, 2005

I married a man I met online. It's turned out swimmingly.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:56 AM on December 1, 2005

It's definitely hit or miss. I have one of each.

The miss: email and phone was just fabulous. I was sure I was in love with him. But in person, there was just no chemistry, and we knew it right away. I felt terrible about that and still do, I feel like I failed him, or misled him, he's a wonderful guy and didn't deserve that. I somehow thought that falling in love without meeting in person meant that you were really in love with the essence of the person, without the baggage of the preconceived notions you get from first meeting people in person. Now I think there is an essential chemical component to relationships, and you can only experience it in person (because believe me, there was loads of chemistry before we met in person).

So I was pretty jaded when I started to think that this guy I'd been chatting to (and flirting with a bit) by email and phone was getting interested, and when he decided to come for a visit, I was panicking that it would be a repeat of the first time (which was pretty heartbreaking). So I had a prepared speech all ready to go about how I just wanted to be friends and I hoped he'd understand that so we could enjoy his visit with as little awkwardness as possible. HA! Instead, it was love at first sight for me, I knew we'd end up married (I wasn't even remotely interested in marriage before I met him, I loved being single), and after a couple of years of long distance relationship, we did get married, and I moved to be with him. Over three years now and happier now even than we were when we were still doing the long distance thing and everything was new.
posted by biscotti at 10:15 AM on December 1, 2005

I've had one of each.

The first one, emailed for ages, lengthy phone calls nightly, similar interests, never ran out of things to talk about. I sent him my pic but never saw his. We met. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I never spoke to him again. I feel bad about this, because he was still keen on me, and I was a bit of a bitch about it. (I was sixteen!)

The second one I have lived with for three years and am marrying in February. I love him more every day.

You win some, you lose some.
posted by corvine at 10:18 AM on December 1, 2005

It's possible, but it has many traps one should be aware of. That's not to say it can't work, but to go in blind will gear you more towards a "miss".

Online chatting and email can create a false sense of intimacy. People become "head over heels" because of this, feeling a bond stronger than should exist at that time, and based only on a partial, idealized picture.

Long-distance relationships are also problematic, as you don't have the day-to-day. As such, on the rare occasions you see each other, it's always a honeymoon period. Maintaining an in-person relationship on a day-to-day basis is not the same as late-night phone calls and giddy emails. Again, idealization comes into play.

There are other flags, but those are the two biggies. Yes, I had a relationship involving both of those, and no, it didn't go well, but it ate up a lot of time and energy. I've seen others in similar situations, few of which have ended happily. But as with all relationships, it depends on the people involved. Me, I try to minimize falling into similar traps, so when I chat with a new person or send email, I try to keep it as brief as possible, and only with people reasonably close geographically. I'd rather do the "getting to know you" stuff in person, enjoy the body language and eye contact and smiles, and avoid getting a slanted sense of bonding, which can easily put me in a position of obligation, and a greater chance for people getting hurt.

But then, maybe I'm just bitter. :)
posted by p7a77 at 10:29 AM on December 1, 2005

I've had the email thunderbolt once, right when I started meeting guys through Salon/Nerve Personals about a year and a half ago. We were sending each other intimate (no, not that kind of intimate) 1000+ word missives within a couple of exchanges, and -- verbally, at least -- were totally smitten with each other. We emailed 3 or 4 times daily, talked for hours, etc.

When we met a couple of weeks later, we had absolutely zero chemisty. Nada, zilch, nuttin'. One of the dullest dates of my life. We emailed a handful of times after that, but it was clear that there really wasn't much there.

On the other hand, when I started emailing another guy via Salon/Nerve this past spring, we had a friendly exchange but nothing too dramatic. We met for a drink after a couple of weeks of amusing email pleasantries... and got hit with the thunderbolt within minutes of meeting each other. (One drink turned into dinner, which turned into more drinks, which turned into coffee and apple pie at 3 in the morning.) We've been together about 6 months, and are still pretty darn crazy about each other so far.
posted by scody at 10:33 AM on December 1, 2005

Oh, and by the way, this line from necessitas...
"When I get uncomfortable, I walk fast. Really fast. Way faster than his short leg could accommodate."
...has had me laughing for about ten minutes.

posted by scody at 10:41 AM on December 1, 2005

She had a boyfriend and it became totally tragic.
posted by johngoren at 10:49 AM on December 1, 2005

we started exchanging the occasional e-mail as friends back and forth then we met and we obviously clicked but one of us was in a relationship and the other didn't feel like moving forward and there was obvious attraction then more e-mails then phone calls then the one who was in a relationship wasn't anymore then more phone calls then love then and I'm sorry to quote myself, touch touch touch kiss kiss kiss snuggle snuggle snuggle earth-shattering sex all nite every nite dirty talk in foreign languages some of them dead I daydream of your naked body and I think I can still taste you in my mouth my heart starts racing whenever caller ID tells me it's you and the way you fall asleep close to me with a little girl's smile I'm so proud that you carry yourself so lightly even if you're usually by far the smartest person in the room not to mention the hottest I peer over my book just to steal a glance of you and you don't even notice I have a hard time concentrating on the paintings even at the Frick if you're standing next to me and I inhale deeply every time you kiss me goodbye to try to make it last a little longer, things like that
posted by PenguinBukkake at 11:14 AM on December 1, 2005 [4 favorites]

I first "met" my partner at an online message board back in 1998. This was not any sort of dating site, it was a rough-and-tumble all-purpose board where opinionated gobshites like me thrived and the sort of people who love to whine about protocol on Metatalk experienced great and richly-deserved pain.

This pretty accurately describes where I met my wife - on an Internet gaming message board filled with humorous assholes and a surprisingly high number of intelligent developers. It was also in '98.

The IRC channel that spawned somewhere off to the side of the site - almost exactly how #mefi/#tapes is off to the side of MeFi - is where I got to talking with her regularly. I did not at all believe she was a girl at first, based on the way she talked - she exhibited none of the usual bullshit female hangups. Then there came the big all-channel three-day meetup with people bussing in from Canada and flying in from both coasts. I met her, I liked her, I flirted with her in front of her boyfriend.

Her breakup and six months later, we were chatting about four hours every night, and since we already knew what the other looked like, there was no concern about attraction, etc. I swiped roughly a billion free hotel points from my dad who lives on the road and traded them in for a crazy-huge 4-room suite in a Holiday Inn (believe it or not some Holiday Inns do have them). We stayed there for three days together - it went well.

Well enough that two months later I quit my shit job, packed two carry-on bags, and flew from New York to Seattle to move in with her. That was five years ago. We've been married for about 18 months now, and it's been great.
posted by Ryvar at 11:35 AM on December 1, 2005

He probably would've had no chin, talentless artistic aspirations, a gambling addiction and a pair of Tevas he never takes off. Plus I bet he's terrible in bed and has VD.

Not to mention that he would've become obsessed with you and you'd have had to reject him publicly, harshly and repeatedly for years. Another bullet dodged, my friend!

Now get back out there and kiss some frogs!
posted by Marnie at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2005

Yeah yeah, not the best answer to the question but I had to do it.

I guess it really is a crap shoot - some go well and some don't. You guys have convinced me that I had a lucky escape. We couldn't have met for many months and I could have spent all that time in intense email exchanges only to find we don't click face to face at all. That would have been *so* much worse.
posted by helcat at 11:47 AM on December 1, 2005

She turned out to be psycho. Really messed with my head - tried to set me against my family, get me to leave school and move to a place where I had no support network, borrowed money, etc. etc.
posted by advil at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2005

We couldn't have met for many months and I could have spent all that time in intense email exchanges only to find we don't click face to face at all. That would have been *so* much worse.

Bingo. The most important thing I learned from my online/personal ad dating; if you do feel that BOOM through e-mail, IMs and phone conversations, you should get the "in person" meeting over with ASAP. It's always better to find out *quickly* if you aren't going to feel physical sparks for your brain crush, lest you become attached to the fantasy that your hopes and expectations have built.
posted by weirdoactor at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2005

For people who have had the chemistry-online-fizzles-offline experience, I think one of the problems is that people who might ordinarily take a long time to build trust and intimacy offline tend to get too deep too fast online. If you've been exchanging emails/IMs for more than a month or so, by the time you end up meeting in person, you've already gone through: stories about growing up, travel and work, favorite colors, bands and tv shows, charming anecdotes about your life, witty thoughts about state of the universe, deep seated fears, religious philosophies, past disappointments, future hopes, etc.

You can cover a lot of ground through online exchanges and when you meet face-to-face, you end up with the same mundane conversation options that you would have if you had been dating for years. Except it is a first date and thus comfortable silence is out. Also out is the typical frivolous getting to know you banter you'd usually exchange on first dates. What does that leave? The same deep and meaningful conversation you had online might be excruciating to have in person with the stranger sitting across from you. That leaves uncomfortable silence and a whole lot of fizzle.

Obviously this isn't the case with everyone and sometimes the lack of chemistry can be chalked up to simple lack of chemistry.

btw, scody, funny to read but tough to keep a straight face in the moment.
posted by necessitas at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

We met the first time when she was looking at colleges. We hit it off right away. We were in love for a year before we met, and when we finally did, it was perfect. Unfortunately, it didn't end well... I'm a boring, work-obsessed stereotypical distant absent-minded bachelor, and she's a somewhat wild, liberal bisexual. I think the internet's interesting because it brings together people who might not necessarily otherwise get to know each other. Just keep in mind that if you wouldn't have hooked up in real life, but did via the internet, you might still not have the connection that's necessary for the relationship.
Oh, but the sex was *great*.

Interestingly enough, it's about to happen again -- someone that I've known online for 10 years is coming to visit next week from far, far away. I'm pretty sure she and I are gonna hit it off. We'll see. And really, that's all you can do.
posted by SpecialK at 1:49 PM on December 1, 2005

Six years later we're still married.
posted by normy at 2:52 PM on December 1, 2005

Had an intense email thing with a guy, while occasionally aware he was fantasizing me into his very specific ideas of what was physically attractive. Practically the first remark he made when we met at the airport was that I was not as petite as he had hoped (I had not lied about my appearance, and in fact had tried to disabuse him about his fantasies, to no avail). Needless to say, it was a fizzle.
posted by zadcat at 2:52 PM on December 1, 2005

Honestly, I sort of had the opposite happen with a friend I met...we became really good friends through a message board, even though he lived 2000 miles away. I went to visit him because we were so close and it sounded like a fun idea, and I really wasn't expecting to be attracted to him. Then I got there and the chemistry hit me like a brick. The distance effectively ended the romance after some time, but we're still friends. So, adding to what everyone else says...physical attraction in real life is really hard to predict.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2005

Congrats, normy.

My wife and I met online and have been together for 5 years. We lived about four hours apart and daily emails led to daily calls which led to weekly visits. We had to pick a state after a few months and hers won.
posted by codswallop at 3:42 PM on December 1, 2005

Also one of each:

The first was a fun email and IM romance that, with hindsight, I can see I enjoyed so much because I was bored and lonely and not having much luck with in-person relationships. I moved for him and we made a go of dating for four or five months, I think, but I had most definitely idealized him and was disappointed with the real life version of this guy. He just couldn't live up to what I had made of him.

The second was someone I met on a general interest message board in 98 or 99. We became good e-friends, and regularly corresponded all through the aforementioned relationship. Once I broke up with the first internet guy, the second one came to visit me under the guise of checking out the tech job seen in the town where I had moved, but we both had crushes on each other and while I wouldn't have admitted it under torture at the time, I was totally hoping we'd end up making out.

And we did! That was five years ago and now we're married and he totally rocks and I'm totally happy.
posted by jennyb at 4:03 PM on December 1, 2005

I just met someone within the last month. We'd known each other for the last two years, and I'd liked him the whole time. But I've had a lot of bad relationships, and was just too chicken to say anything. Turns out, HE liked me too, and we started talking more seriously online. It progressed to the phone, and we had a lot of chemistry. So much so, that we actually talked about "the future" and whatnot. We had been speaking seriously for roughly 4 months when we met - and by that, I mean long phone calls daily, constant text messages and IM conversations.

When I went to pick him up, I think alot of the initial nervousness was gone because I was told the wrong terminal and gate by the airport website. Quite honestly, I thought he looked a bit different than his photos, but it worked in his favor (my problem early on had been that he might have been TOO pretty and egotistical about it, if that makes any sense) - he looked more lowkey in person, and I was even more smitten. Yes, I said smitten.

We spent four days together and aside from being nervous in the beginning, it was exactly the same as it was online. I have a weird sense of humor - dry wit, sarcasm and all that - and I was scared it wouldn't have gone over well, but it didn't hinder me at all.

I wish I had a happier ending, but as of right now, I don't. Without getting TOO into it (it's pretty long), he's decided we were moving too fast and asked me to "wait" for him. He strung me along for a few weeks and I only recently sent him a "I really like you, but until you actually know what you want, don't talk to me" email.

Quite honestly, I think we would have worked out had he not done the "pushing away" thing that he warned me about early on. I'm not counting on him ever coming around - I'm not even sure what I'd do if he did.
posted by damnjezebel at 5:34 PM on December 1, 2005

A sort of odd sideline - I have a friend I met a LONG time ago, very briefly through a high school extracurricular thing, she lived a goodly distance away in the same state. We ended up having this long distance correspondence, pretty close and reasonably frequent over years, all through college, though there was never any hint of the romantic (though the gender/orientation made that at least a theoretical possibility).

When I graduated from college I moved to the town where she was going to college (she is several years younger than me). And when we started to meet in person it just didn't quite click. Obviously as a friendship it was not so fraught with emotion, but there was a definite you're-not-quite-the-person-I-thought-I-knew vibe. Our relationship never quite recovered: she lives within a mile or two of me now and yet we never manage to see each other.
posted by nanojath at 8:28 PM on December 1, 2005

How did it go?

- Met in a chat room mid-1999
- Met face-to-face December 1999 (we slept together that night so I'd say the chemistry was pretty good)
- Dated for a year
- Married five years as of December 2

Neither of us were looking for any sort of relationship except, perhaps, online friends. We're well suited for each other (scarily so sometimes especially considering our age gap and upbringing) and extremely happy together.
posted by deborah at 10:03 PM on December 4, 2005

« Older how to get started in recording on Windows   |   Need help finding CD... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.