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Love Blindness in Online and Long-Distance Dating

82663366Being oblivious to issues within a relationship is not something those going through the divorce process have a problem with. I’d say anyone thinking about or in the midst of divorce has a pretty good idea of what’s wrong with the union. There’s no love blindness there, at all. However, there is love blindness onset in other avenues of romantic life, which divorcees may want to be wary of when they re-enter a dating world that is now rife with alternate routes.

Namely, online dating, which often leads to long-distance dating, is a prime initiator of the love blindness disease, and it’s becoming more and more common as online dating sites reel in customers. Describing this dating avenue, psychologist Shauna Springer says, “The shared delusion of mutual flawlessness thrives in such a context. With the distance and the lack of face time, it is relatively easy to maintain illusions of mutual perfection, thereby extending the time during which each of you project and perceive unrealistic fantasies.”

Tips to Decrease Your Chance of Love Blindness

Not to say online dating is not a great way to find a potential partner in crime (life). Many people find lasting love this way; it’s just recommended to be cautious and not get in over your head too soon. Especially when the long-distance romance is new, not spending enough real time with the person could mean not realizing who they really are before it’s too late and you’ve too invested. Carefully planned, blissful weekend visits and dreamily looking at internet photos does not paint a true picture of what married life with this person would be like. Springer offers a few tips to reduce love blindness danger:

1. Do Your Research: Find out and observe what kind of friends and relationships the new dreamboat has in his/her circle. It’s not only important to know about his/her family background but also knowing what kind of company they keep on a regular basis is telling of their character. Are their friends people you would enjoy spending time with as well? Is there a close friend that is rude or intolerant? That could be a red flag worth looking into if it’s possible the potential mate has similar traits that haven’t yet manifested in your long-distance presence. If you do get a chance to talk with any of these friends during a visit, perhaps ask for opinions of their friend you are dating. Granted, they may be biased but the responses could also offer insight into things this person might be hiding from you.

2. Ask About Past Romantic Relationships: Similarly, ask your potential online boyfriend or girlfriend directly about their past loves and breakups. One red flag to watch out for is if he/she speaks of an ex in an extremely demeaning or negative light, without taking any responsibility for the failed romance. Stringer explains how “this kind of statement might signal an inability to take ownership for their part in past relationship problems.” It could also signal a lack of responsibility when they are actually in a relationship.

The main thing to avoid when dating online or long-distance is letting your invalidated hopes cause you to invest too much, both emotionally and physically, if you decide to relocate. More dramatically, jumping the gun and marrying someone without knowing who they really are is a clear path to filing for divorce and regretting the blind choices that led you there. Taking it one step at a time, and spending enough time together is key to avoiding love blindness and its sometimes irreparable consequences.

Love at Any (St)Age

Let’s just acknowledge this right off that bat: Just because you’re divorced does not mean you’re dead. Although at times during the divorce process you might feel like a fine specimen of the living dead, you are not. Just repeat that to yourself in the mirror a few times a day and maybe you’ll actually start to believe it.

But this blog is about the post-divorce stage when trips to the grocery store becoming a grazing ground, in more than one way (if you catch our drift). For some, this stage approaches faster and with more ease than for other divorcees. But we have a sneaking suspicion one of the contributing factors to the time and ease at which a divorcee re-enters the dating scene is whether they come in a multi-pack.

The More the Merrier?

It’s difficult for a divorcee to re-enter the dating world, let alone for a divorcee who also holds the title of parent to re-enter the dating world. The statistics overwhelmingly shout that children of divorce are scarred for life, do poorly in school, might be suicidal, don’t seek healthy relationships, and for some reason are not math whizzes. So it’s no wonder a newly divorced parent’s head explodes at the thought of what dating would do to their children.

We are all for independent thinking, and let us emphasize no one knows what’s best for your family other than you and your family. But in case you were wondering, popular opinions on this topic range the entire spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, we have people who believe dating and children should be in totally separate spheres; at on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who believe they can be mixed healthily.

Finding Your Comfort Zone

In a HuffPost Live segment, host Marc Lamont Hill invites divorced parents/ HuffPost bloggers Ed Housewright, Emma Johnson, Jena Kingsley, Jessica Solloway, and Robin Amos Kahn to discuss the topic of single parents dating. The diverse group shares ideas about how to approach dating after divorce, and shed light on all the beautiful points of the spectrum.

Here are the arguments behind the two opposing sides of the issue, as brought up by the HuffPost bloggers:

  • Slow and Steady: The first concern dating parents under this philosophy have is their children’s emotional and mental state. Divorce presents a horrible upheaval for children and their families, which can cause confusion and emotional instability. Dating parents fear introducing romantic possibilities to their children will open the gateway to further feelings of abandonment and pain, should the relationship not work out. Parents operating under this belief promote only introducing a romantic partner after about 6 solid months of being in an exclusive relationship.

  • C’est La Vie: The opposing camp believes dating parents can approach dating with their children in a positive, balanced manner. As stated by one of the HuffPost bloggers, teaching your children about the ebbs and flows of life can prepare and strengthen a child to handle all of life’s curveballs. Age-appropriate communication about dating is the key to going this route, especially explaining the role (or lack of a role) dates have in the child’s life.

Wherever you may fall in the spectrum, don’t forget the players in the relationship. As Housewright said in the HuffPost discussion: “It just depends on your child. You need to know your child, and know their make-up. I don’t think you can make across the board rules. I wouldn’t give any advice to anybody else.”

Where do you fall on the spectrum and why? Sound off, Readers.

The Pros and Cons of Online Dating

Pros&ConsOnlineDatingIn the early 2000′s, when people used to think of online dating they probably imaged online daters typing sweet nothings back and forth with Siri-like significant others. But today, a mere 13 years later, we are comfortable (or at least more comfortable) with the idea of cyber-fishing for that special one in the sea.

But how do relationships with cyber beginnings rank compared to relationships with more conventional beginning? That is the question currently on the mind of lead researcher Eli J. Finkel, first author of the article, “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science.”

Finkel and his research team were commissioned by eHarmony to delve into the state of modern relationships and marriages by researching a two part question: Is online dating different from the dating of yore, and is it better? This is what Finkel’s team found.

Is online dating different?

Yes, Finkel’s team discovered, online dating is different. The summary of the published study notes online dating is definitely different because romance and potential partners used to be vetted by ” village elders, family members, or friends,” and now those human reference points are “a mathematical matching algorithm.”

But they went a step further. Online dating is different in these 3 different aspects:

  • Access “refers to [the] users’ exposure to and opportunity to evaluate potential romantic partners they are otherwise unlikely to encounter.”

  • Communication “refers to users’ opportunity to use various forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to interact with specific potential partners through the dating site before meeting face-to-face.”

  • Matching refers to “a site’s use of a mathematical algorithm to select potential partners for users.”

Is online dating better?

The answer to this question is yes and no. We have highlighted some of the positives and negatives of online dating, as specified in the study, below.

Online dating is better than conventional dating because:

  • you can access potential partners all over the world via the internet.

  • you have an added filter for potential partners due to CMC.

  • certain sites filter out unsuitable partners with the interview processes.

Online dating is not better because:

  • it deprives the participants of the “experiential” (meaning discovered through experience) part of meeting a potential partner face-to-face, and discovering how their body language, voice, and treatment of others appeals to you.

  • it makes romance more of a job interview, so participants objectify and distance themselves from potential partners.

  • an algorithm cannot accurately match how well two people will interact, and cannot measure or predict how two people will “grow and mature over time” together.

What does this information do for us?

So where are we after receiving this information? Well, that depends on you and your opinion. Knowing the study was funded by eHarmony made us first believe the study would find online dating to be the best way to find a significant other, but that was happily not the case.

Well, Readers, what do you think about online dating? Sound off below.