In an increasingly online world, there is a very real danger of becoming disconnected and isolated from one another, and this is nowhere more apparent than in the realm of modern-day dating and relationships. We all like our social media presence to show our best and disguise our flaws, and at the end of the day, who could really blame us?
But this also has the unintended side effect of giving potential suitors an incomplete picture of who we really are. You see, often, when we have a crush, when we lust for a person, we see only a small percentage of who that person is, while the rest we naturally make up for ourselves. In the past, this wasn’t really a problem. The nature of dating before the arrival of social media meant there would always be plenty of opportunity to get to know someone, to laugh and eat and dance together, and fall for each other organically. But nowadays, it’s not uncommon for two people to talk and flirt for months before meeting one another face to face.
When we are going on nothing but a profile picture and a few lines of text, we can become smitten with our *idea* of a person, a product of our hopes and imaginations, rather than genuinely bothering to discover the truth of who they are, what it is they dream of or care for. And rather than truly listening to what they have to say, we instead smother them in who we would like them to be. We plant little fantasies of people in our hearts and let them grow until this creation, this fiction, is all there’s any room for. And this is where the relationship we hope to have is doomed to fail. Because, even if all goes well and good and we manage to begin a relationship, the fantasy we have created will inevitably fall away, revealing someone who we barely recognise at all—a total stranger—a real human being who cannot hope to meet our unrealistic expectations and will invariably disappoint us.
We must save ourselves the future trouble and disappointment and make a deliberate effort today to look through one another’s masks and really get to know each other. To pay attention to the small details and what makes us all unique and alive. To pursue real experiences with each other and create stories that are interesting and memorable. These are the things that forge genuine connections and understanding. We must stop imprinting our wishes and desires onto real human beings, and instead, learn to recognise that the universe is far more spectacular an author than we could ever hope to be.