Over the last decade, online dating has become the new normal. The world of the internet has provided fertile terrain for a virtual meeting of new people and expanding our social circles. Relationships, either platonic or romantic, are formed faster over the same interests, same experiences and mutual attraction. The attraction is triggered by pictures which may or may not be valid, by online behaviors that may or may not be genuine, by presences that may or may not be authentic.
Obviously not every person we meet online is fake, just as not everyone we meet in person is honest. However, meeting a person through a pre-existing social circle where their character has been vetted by those you already trust, can potentially bear less risk when opening up. An introduction by a shared acquaintance has the power to convert an individual to a persona grata and generates a kind of instinctive trust.
But when you meet someone on a dating app, how is it possible to open up?
Is trust built based on a logical procedure or can conditional trust be a safe approach? Is it possible that neither a gut instinct nor a long process towards trust is an option online? Must we just take a leap of faith?
Tinder and other online dating applications have been actively trying to improve the experience they offer by enhancing their security systems and adding more ways to validate the authenticity of the online profiles. This is meant to increase safety and build trust among users. However, it’s not exactly possible to evaluate the intentions of a person, no matter how authentic their pictures are.
This is where our intellect, our intuition and our past experiences must serve as our protection. Opening up to someone through an application might seem easier and ‘less real’ than interacting in-person, but we must still be aware of how much information we give and how quickly. Obviously, the human need for companionship can easily cloud our decisions, but keeping in mind that time is what builds trust might very well be our saving grace.
Admittedly, there are times when our intuition works well in informing us when to move closer or run away instantly. But, intuition can be a wild card as it is often confused by the false transparency of social media. This blurred and distorted notion of reality can, at times, negatively influence our ability to judge the characters of others.
In order to protect ourselves more efficiently, we need first to build trust in ourselves and our decisions. We will fail many times along the way, and in the end, we will find allyship in ourselves. This will only strengthen our ability to establish healthy boundaries and honest relationships. The distinction between what is safe to be shared and what not might feel clearer and the protection of our privacy might be viewed from a different perspective.
Going through a healing process is a painful procedure. We carry traumas and burdens, but want to be happy in a relationship. However, this requires us first to be happy in our own company since all people seek liberation and relief in different places according to their identity and personality.
Understanding and embracing your own identity can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some options could be going to therapy, liaising in more spiritual paths, seeking guidance in our inner voice, or even expanding by connecting to nature. Whatever way we choose, building trust and respect first towards ourselves immediately increases the value we place on ourselves. And slowly, the pressure to share nude pictures or sext with strangers becomes more manageable and we are able to enforce boundaries with empowerment. We learn with time that online applications offer convenience and excitement, but are not a safeguard for our very real emotions.