Kathryn's Blog

Getting to know you…sometimes too much!

Here’s an article that highlights one of the advantages—and distinct changes—that online dating has brought to courtship and mating.  And one of Internet datings BIG advantages: You know a lot about a person before you even make the first contact, because so much is revealed in their profile.

And just as so often a plus is also a minus, you can find out too much, as the article points out. 

Facebook deletes much of the mystery from dating
By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune
Article Launched: 06/04/2008 12:04:06 AM PDT

Oliver Pangborn hates Dave Matthews Band.

If you looooove Dave Matthews Band, Pangborn probably doesn’t want to date you. If you share his loathing, eh, drop him a line.

Gone are the days when it took a date, maybe two, to find out a person’s resume of likes and dislikes — favorite movie, favorite quotes, special causes. Online matchmaking sites rendered that notion quaint years ago, and now social networking sites are doing their part to obliterate it. “Facebook and MySpace are kind of robbing the mysteries out of dating,” said Pangborn, 30, who lives on Chicago’s Gold Coast. “You find out all these little things about people that you might otherwise let go. If I see someone’s favorite quote is a Dave Matthews lyric or favorite band is Jimmy Buffett, I automatically have an image of them. And it kind of lingers.”

Thanks to online profiles that list everything from salary range to current reading selections, we’ve gotten used to knowing someone’s vital stats before we even meet face to face. Has this changed the qualities we look for in a partner?

Are we becoming a society of mirror-image seekers?

Not quite, say some experts. But we are becoming more adept at linking ourselves to kindred spirits — and that’s a good thing.

“We know from research that opposites don’t really attract,” said Les Parrott, author, psychologist, family therapist and, most recently, online marital counselor for eHarmony Marriage.  “The truth is we’re drawn to people that are like us, and the more we have in common — especially on matters that mean the most to us — the easier time we’re going to have.”

That doesn’t mean you should seek out your doppelganger. For one thing, he or she doesn’t exist. “There’s no such thing as the perfect match,” Parrott said. “Human beings are so complex. No matter how much you have in common, you’re going to have differences.”

Vive la difference

And besides, those differences are half the fun.

“We help each other become better human beings,” Parrott said. “You’re the proverbial sandpaper for each other’s rough edges. If you’re well-matched, you’re going to expand each other’s horizons.”

Pangborn admits he sometimes longs for the days when we weren’t armed with quite so much information.

“It kind of takes away those certain peccadilloes that become endearing later on,” Pangborn said. “If you see right away that they have an Elvis collection, you say ‘Oh, what a freak,’ instead of finding it out as this charming bit later on.”

Louise Baker, 43, met her boyfriend, Bob, on Match.com a little more than a year ago. She says she scanned profiles for a good lifestyle match, rather than a reflection of her own interests.

“I wanted to first find someone that was interested in making a commitment and getting married, then go from there,” said Baker, an artist who lives in Roscoe Village, Ill. “So if they listed that they love to run marathons and spend vacations rock climbing, I knew that our lifestyles were different. But if they listed that they love a glass of red wine with a steak, I knew that the restaurant would also serve white wine and fish for me.”

Helen Fisher, a noted anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of numerous books, including “Why We Love” (Holt Paperbacks), says savvy matchmaking is crucial for 21st century relationships.

Seeking a companion

“We’re looking for a companion,” she said. “One hundred years ago a man needed a woman who would bear him healthy babies and take care of the home. Now we’re looking for a marriage between equals.”

That means carefully interpreting whatever data are in front of us.

“If you discover he’s reading a book about Bertrand Russell, that makes you think he’s educated, he’s curious, he’s therefore productive,” Fisher said. “The mind builds on these little pieces of information.”

Especially, she says, in a time when we’re less likely to pair ourselves with someone we’ve known since childhood.

“We don’t have our family and community to send signals,” she said. “You can’t sell your reputation, you can’t sell your upbringing. Suddenly the book you’re reading becomes magnificently important.”

Of course, the real work begins after a match is made.

“You still need the skills to make the relationship work,” said Parrott. “It’s not like you match up and you’re on easy street. You still need communication and conflict resolution and all the rest.”

Baker says her pre-Bob dating experience bears that out.

“It’s kind of like the housing market,” she said. “Because there’s so much on the market right now, people always want to see what else is out there. But I don’t like house-hunting. I find it very stressful. To me, I feel like I can live in a lot of different places. You make a place yours.

“It’s like that with dating,” she said. “A lot of people are looking for that perfect thing, you know? But it’s never going to be. You just have to have the same dreams and the same goals.”



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