Are You Hiding Behind Your Online Profile?


Too often online dating is viewed in a negative light (especially after the recent Manti Te’o scandal). I asked myself why online dating has such a negative connotation and I began to think about some of the mistakes I made during my online dating.
One mistake I made was believing in a false sense of intimacy. Often I would keep in touch with a contact for months without meeting them in person.
Had I been hiding? Had my contacts been hiding? I felt genuinely close to some of them because of the things we chatted about online, but I realize now that I had no sense of who they really were.
By remaining in the virtual world, we run the risk of creating an illusory intimacy. We feel we know someone because they echo what we believe, or because we feel safe in talking about the things which are most important to us. We might hesitate when talking about sensitive topics in person, but we find the words can flow a little more easily when we have the option of continual editing. We can avoid divulging anything we think is unattractive or detrimental, and that does not always provide an accurate picture of who we are.

My wife (whom I met on CatholicMatch) occasionally reminds me that the man she married is not at all like the first impression I gave in my profile. The image she had of me is almost completely opposite to the “me” I had put together with my picture and introductory paragraph.

When I look at that profile I can see that I was clearly forging a no-nonsense character who was cut and dried, down and dirty, and not interested in frivolity. There are times when I am like that, but as my wife will testify, 90% of the time I am a goof.

So why did I create that character? That just happened to be how I felt that week. I had “had it up to here” with the responses I was getting, so in a fit of pique I dashed off a new profile. I created the profile of a man that had a hard outer shell because I didn’t like who I was attracting. That profile kept my future wife from initiating contact with me for one whole year.

Even when talking on the phone, we essentially create a character. In person, when a sensitive topic is broached, there are a host of visual cues and tells that further round out the picture of who we are and how we live. We are much more vulnerable, but that can be good. Not only does it keep us honest, but it allows us to see how others react when the unexpected happens.

Only when we see someone in the real world can we get a sense of how they conduct themselves. How do they treat others? How do they handle those minor hiccups in planning and the frequent messiness of the average day? How do they respond to the questions that are important to you? What signals do they give and what seems to be important to them?

Our profiles are still important. They are not expected to capture the essence of who you are so completely that you could be recreated in a lab, but you should be somewhat recognizable. Hit your strong points and describe yourself in brief. Be clear about what your expectations are and how you view the role of the faith in your life. Be clear about who you are looking to meet, and what you DON’T want.

When you’ve established that someone might be a good match, and you’ve emailed and talked on the phone enough to know that you should meet, make a date. You need to meet and stand in front of a live person. When suggesting a live meeting, do what you need to do to make the other person comfortable, but do not be strung along. If someone keeps canceling dates or seems reluctant to meet in person, kindly suggest that you put things on hold until they are comfortable with a physical meeting.

It’s natural to be averse to rejection, but rejection won’t kill you. Believe me, I was rejected plenty of times. It was never fun, but it was a heck of a lot easier the more it happened. And I had practice rejecting, as well. Most people take no joy in hurting someone else’s feelings, but if we alter who we are or pretend to be someone we aren’t just to avoid conflict, we are headed for trouble. The point will inevitably arrive when that house of cards collapses.

In the end there simply is no substitute for live interaction. We are physical creatures and we are meant to share physical space with each other. The real task of getting to know each other is found in the time you spend together, the conversations you have upfront (faith, children, life goals), and how you react in each other’s presence when there is no script and no editing.



  1. Jennifer-728047 February 22, 2016 Reply

    Very important article. Today’s day is all about hiding. Superficiality. Also, there are a lot of people who seek the faith as a “magic bullet” vs getting to roots of problems that are causing fears of commitment, porn as medication, spirituality to seduce, etc. The “relationships” have become between screens and it’s torture for this here extrovert! I work in female dominated professions a Nurse, and NFP Instructor — where the guys I meet are 100% either engaged, or married. Soooo, I’m “left” with whit option of the online venue where I met many WONDERFUL people -sisters, and brothers! However, it’s become a “reunion site” where the same guys who wrote me with high level interest 8 years ago, are popping up every few months or years and NOT making plans to meet. Me, or my girlfriends who are also on here. Also, I liked Ave Maria Singles where the whole point was to meet on line to see where the next event is! Then you meet in person in the group setting. Don’t get all sad though that I am talking up AMS…..their downfall is, the guys I meet there at the events, do the same things they do here on the sites! Will be all invested and interested, until the next girl comes by…then you find out he hasn’t pursued ANY ONE…..yet and still. No throwing tomatoes guys, I knooooow obviously you are not all like this, but this IS a general finding that most women will agree with. Sad, and just part of the groupings of cross we have to endure and try to endure it well. Now, I will go reply with kindness but rejection of the 58 year old man who wants me, the 36 year old, vs the lovely 48 year old I had in mind to connect, because he decides are all these years, he’d like to date, marry and have children. Oh Dio Mio….;) God bless you all xo

  2. Leocardia-1226578 November 16, 2015 Reply

    Great article indeed! Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Mamelia-946915 March 14, 2013 Reply

    I’m from the Philippines, I would like to subscribe in this site, I have a debit card & already linked to paypal but still I can’t use it because it needs another paypal card to deposit an amount into my paypal account, worse because nobody else I know here has a paypal card, I don’t have credit card as an alternative to use for payment, my question is, can I use somebody’s credit card to pay in my behalf? or can anybody else can pay in my behalf? I really wanted to have a subscription for me to access those messages I received. I’m looking forward for the answer please!

  4. Espe-410886 March 12, 2013 Reply

    Physical attraction is great for starters then the real substance follows. What kind of moral character does he/she have along with honesty about attempting to describe yourself. And, what’s with the picture’s that many men post of pictures from ten, twenty or more year’s ago?? Or, pictures of scenery w/out the person? What is it that the person is trying to avoid. Honesty in describing yourself shows in a person’s character

  5. Mary-720746 March 12, 2013 Reply

    Responding to Brian R. Barcaro’s cmt and agreeing with Andrew. If after a lengthy discourse with a guy over time and HE invited me to a cup of coffee LDR, I would gladly go and pay my way. I would not go without a solid communication established first. Recall the CM gal who said she had a 3yr LDR and her half of it cost her $20,000 and she was still single? Be realistic. Ya know what one Catholic missionary in a developing country could do with 20 grand?! An initial LDR F2F is expensive if it’s a casual, oh, another match. I’ll go have a casual cup of coffee to check out any chemistry.

    • Brian Barcaro
      Brian R. Barcaro March 12, 2013 Reply

      Everyone is free to make choices about a long distance relationship and I am pretty confident that most of the couples who married as a result of meeting online and dating through a LDR did so for far less than $20K combined. That being said if one chooses and uses prudence, common sense and a little ingenuity it is very possible and very conducive to have an LDR that turns into marriage. It may not be for everyone but it happens often to couple on CatholicMatch.

  6. Brian Barcaro
    Brian R. Barcaro March 11, 2013 Reply

    Andrew, why are long distance relationships not conducive to real live dating? The majority of the couples who meet through our site do so via long distance relationships. When I met my wife she lived in TX and I in PA.

  7. Brandon-729898 March 11, 2013 Reply

    I agree Man, Great article! We truly cannot say someone is really who they say they are until we meet them in person and communicate face to face.

  8. Veronica-674700 March 10, 2013 Reply

    I agree with this article ! I think people who really care about each other’s feelings and emotional safety should meet face to face after a couple of phone calls or so. This article is really good.

  9. Andrew-290721 March 10, 2013 Reply

    What is interesting is that a piece such as this gets posted along with the frequent exhortations to consider long-distance relationships, which are absolutely not conducive to real, live dating.

    I agree though that meeting in-person as soon as possible and as frequently as possible is the best approach.

  10. Candace-587406 March 10, 2013 Reply

    I also think it’s key to put up recent photos of yourself, a headshot and a head to toe photo, so people can see how you look, since that has a lot to do with physical attraction. I agree that you shouldn’t delay meeting face to face. It would be a huge disappointment to talk to someone online or on the phone for several months, only to discover that you don’t have any chemistry when you finally meet.

  11. Lisa-801067 March 10, 2013 Reply

    This article hit home. I realized that i had to do the same thing. I saw that the i had to be right on and specific about what i am looking for in a spouse. Two people also inspired me to do this. A story of a woman who questioned every man she met and stated specifically her intentions were to marry to the men she met. She did find her spouse and they married. And the profile of one man on Catholicmatch whose description of a spouse was the same in one point that i felt strongly about but kept quiet about in my profile myself. I also find true the statement that we can feel a sense of connection, of false intimacy. We need to have a true connection. Thank you for your truthful and insightful article. !!!

  12. Dave-104327 March 10, 2013 Reply

    It all boils down to physical attraction. Your wife didn’t delete you for a year because of the physical attraction – period.

  13. Dave-146273 March 10, 2013 Reply

    Great article Erik,

    and i especially like this point that you made… “Our profiles are still important. They are not expected to capture the essence of who you are so completely that you could be recreated in a lab, but you should be somewhat recognizable. Hit your strong points and describe yourself in brief. Be clear about what your expectations are and how you view the role of the faith in your life. Be clear about who you are looking to meet, and what you DON’T want.”

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