Failure To Spark: When Skype Chemistry Fizzles In Real Life


The New York Times recently published the winner of its “Modern Love” college contest, a 696-word essay by Syracuse University senior Caitlin Dewey. The headline: “Even In Real Life, There Were Screens Between Us.”

In it, Dewey details the failure of an online relationship to stand the test of IRL (in real life). She writes:

But after we kissed and ate pizza and went back to his house, we struggled for things to talk about. In real life, Will stared off at nothing while I talked. In real life, he had no questions about the drive or my work or the stuff that waited for me when I went back to school.

He took me out for dinner and read his e-mail while we waited for our food. He apologized profusely, but still checked his Web site’s traffic stats while we sat in his living room.

Have you ever experienced a bellyflop from CatholicMatch chats to face-to-face chats?

Catherine Perry, our newest blogger, has. She wrote about it in her debut post:

About two years ago, I struck up a correspondence with a CatholicMatch member from a very long distance. Our rapport was witty, genuine and caring. Very quickly, it  got whipped into a frothy online romance – one that was very public to the CatholicMatch community.

During that time, we compared our temperaments. We compared Facebook quiz results. We spent hours talking over Skype, emailing, texting and writing letters by hand; we shared books and prayers together; we vented, traded jokes, and gave each other support during difficult experiences.

Before long, he announced in the forums that he was going to board a plane and ask for my hand. It was very easy to get caught up in the well-wishes and compliments and premature congratulatory remarks. It was even easier to forget the red and blue ink of it all. We thought, after all the heady discussions and sharing, that we had all the bases covered. There was no way the chemistry wouldn’t be there – it already was there, this was IT!

Long story short: It wasn’t there at all.

How do you account for the times online chemistry doesn’t translate to real life? Is there any way to predict (or prevent) that fizzle?



  1. Tesa-671012 May 18, 2011 Reply

    I met someone on Catholic Match and we were so “right,” at least through our long letters. We began phoning, and the conversations were somewhat stilted. He just wasn’t that verbal, although the letters were deep and intimate. We shared the same goals, interest in the Faith, political viewpoints, etc. We decided to meet back East where I had friends (I’m from California; he’s from back East). We met and spent a few days together, then I traveled to my friends’, where he joined me some days later. It just wasn’t there in person. I felt like I had to carry the conversation, he didn’t respond to my jokes, and I wasn’t sure he was having a good time. We attended a Catholic Family News Conference, and he sat in the back, while I sat in the front—he didn’t join me for lunches; it was strange. He said when he was leaving I was “too religious” for him. After a few years, we connected again on this site. We are great friends, and out letters are deep—we can tell one another “secrets” and share very personal things. I believe part of that is because there is no “threat.” We know we are not meant for one another, but have many things in common. I’m still waiting for the right one for me; if it is God’s will that I do get married. Anyway, I have made a friend for life.

  2. Sara-678098 May 14, 2011 Reply

    I think that, eventhough you did spend all that time “seeing” each other through Skype, you never saw each other in your day-to-day life and activities. Talking about it is one thing, actually experiencing it is a completely different story. I’d recommend next time, if there is a next time, to try to meet much sooner in your “relationship.”

  3. Marie-575233 May 9, 2011 Reply

    How sad.Perhaps opportunity could have been taken to truly get to know one another.There is something to be said about the safety of communicating on line.Many a relationship has begun without chemistry.I believe there was something there.It just needed time to be developed.I think the relationship should be given another chance.

  4. Jonathan-394836 May 9, 2011 Reply

    The problem is online conversation is always impersonal no matter how you do it and there is no emotional, physiological bond developed. This can be overcome as people have said by trying to meet as soon as possible on a casual date.

    The heart of the problem is that so many online relationships are long distance. Casual dates then become impossible.

    I met an amazing woman on here. She wrote to me in Afghanistan for nearly a year. We met as soon as I got back and everything was amazing. I met her a few more times too. But she lived in California and I was in the military in North Carolina.

    Complications arose, as they do in any relationship. In retrospect, i think we would have easily worked them out if we were seeing each other in person. This is b/c the natural bond that develops from this, and the joy that results from being with each other, can so easily disarm arguments.

    Instead, I received a letter from her with no forewarning stating that she wanted to break up. This was after we had been talking via catholicmatch, phone, skype and email every day for roughly a year and a half!

    Something that was the most personal and dear thing in my life was destroyed in a casual email. Why? B/c the whole relationship was based on emails…and of course that email started an exchange of angry emails with words that never would have been used in person were we to look each other in the face. Now we are not friends. Never talk. We have no idea if each other are alive or dead, and i’m dying inside.

    It’s not online dating so much as using online dating to support a long distance relationship.

    • Marie-575233 May 10, 2011 Reply

      I am so sorry you are hurting.I hope you find a true love to replace what you have lost.

    • Eve-112836 May 15, 2011 Reply

      I’m sincerely sorry that happened to you. My fiancé deployed a few months after we met online. I didn’t think long distance relationships work but when you meet the right person then the distance and everything else doesn’t matter. Trust me you’ll meet someone who’ll love you for you and won’t see the distance. I know right now you’re in pain but when you meet the right person you’ll thank God for other relationships didn’t work out. Trust that God knows what He’s doing and if you are obedient to His will even if you don’t understand why it’s happening. We’re not asked to have the answers but to trust in Gods plan for us.

  5. Eve-112836 May 9, 2011 Reply

    I agree with what’s already been said. I think the trick us to understand that skype does not replace the important physical aspect that needs to be a part of a relationship. Skype can give people the false assurance that all will be peaches and cream when they meet. Skype, like chatting, phone calls or texting, is a means to get to know a person. When I met my fiancé online after two weeks of chatting I knew I wanted to meet him in person. Our emotions were running high and I knew that he and I began forming strong attachments to the other. Thankfully he agreed that it made no sense to wait longer then absolutely necessary. He and I talked on the phone and even got onto the web camera as often as we could before he flew out from GA to meet me in CA. Regardless of the amount of time we clocked behind the computer screen he and I were both fully aware of the fact that things might not work out. It’s vital to be realistic about such things. I know from experience how easy it is to carried away in an online relationship but it’s so important to remind yourself, as much as you might not want to, that the chemistry might not be there. The trick is not letting that fear of things not working prevent you for being open to staring a relationship in the first place. love is a risky thing either it’ll work or it will. I nearly let my fear ruin my relationship with my now fiancé. I’m eternally thankful to God that He helped me work through my issues so that I could put my neck out there despite the uncertainty of it all. Sometimes risks pay off but you’ll never figure that out unless you try. If nothing else that risk will teach you yet another valuable life lesson.

  6. Clara-715360 May 8, 2011 Reply

    I have tried the sites for some months now. People my age have not enough chances in real life to find friends or a soulmate …
    It is frecuent that people get enthusiastic very fast on the chances of love or a relationship when you begin to talk or chat with some one you “like” through Skype or MSN.
    Other problem is distance. I was chatting with a man in Mexico, for some months, but we couldn’t travel to meet personally and it was sad and frustrating.
    There are many things that can make relationships work or not which are very difficult to know until you meet personally.

  7. Tanya-63933 May 5, 2011 Reply

    The distance and physical disconnect allow people a great deal of time to “invent” a “version” of each other that rarely can be matched in person. I think this happens a great deal more often than people want to admit. The reality is that when you meet a person face to face for the first time, it doesn’t matter how many marathon telephone/skype/MSN/email conversations you have had, you are ultimately meeting a stranger. Sometimes people are fortunate enough to have that mystical, delicate, nebulous, and inexplicable “click”, “spark”, “oomph” or whatever you wish to call it when they meet, but more often that not, the disheartening realization that the much longed for life changing soul stirring relationship is not going to happen because at best the person you are now speaking to could be nothing more than a good friend and at worst, someone you really wouldn’t have had more than a long conversation with. A gentleman I met with on this site admitted (albeit after a couple of drinks) on our first meeting, “I just imagined that you would be so much more! I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at you if we had met in real life!” And this was a person who claimed that he hadn’t met anyone like me!

    I am not saying that it isn’t possible to find someone fantastic and build something strong and fine on-line from a distance. I am just saying that there is a great deal more to connecting than emoticons, webcams, and photobooks. It’s a great deal trickier and more magical, and I am thankful for that.

  8. Kwaku-654846 May 3, 2011 Reply

    A way to prevent that fizzle is to see each other in real life as soon as possible.

    There are things subtle things in real life that online and even video communication can just not reveal. A person might not be as outgoing IRL as they were online; maybe it’s the outgoing personality that attracted them to you. Certain behaviors can only be revealed IRL (eg, rudeness to others), physical looks may differ IRL.

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