“Oh-No” Seconds

This week I decided to write something timely in honor of our February 14 designated "day of love." While doing research, I saw hundreds of articles about online dating. Everything from "Online Dating Safety Tips" to "Which Service is Right for You?" to "Internet Matchmaking -Why is it so Popular?" Those topics bore me so I'm skipping them to bring you the good stuff—freakish, chilling stories of computer-spawned infatuation followed by a sudden realization of a dating nightmare! Sure, a lot of people find each other and fall in love via the computer. But isn't a quick read about some bizarre, uncomfortable dating encounters more interesting than reading about storybook cyber-romances? Don't lie -you know you want the gore or you wouldn't have read past the title!

Both parties of any blind date are at risk of having a brief but painful experience at the beginning of the encounter. It's a term called an "Oh-No-Second" and is defined as the instant (that fraction of a moment) in which you realize that you've made a serious mistake. Unfortunately, many times upon seeing a blind date, one person has an Oh-No-Second while the other has an "Ah-Yes-Second"—a cruel mismatch always possible on a blind date. If the Oh-No-Second is yours, then your job is to reduce the intensity of your date's "Ah-Yes-Second" as quickly and politely as possible.

In an old fashioned blind date, your Oh-No-Second is most likely to be felt at the first moment of visual contact with your date. If you are appalled at first sight, the Oh-No-Second is eye-widening, unmistakable and can actually cause you to involuntarily mouth the words "Oh no." But after that one encounter it's all over! At most, you endure some agony during an awkward dinner, or, if you are rude, you simply flee after denying your identity.

Meeting someone on the computer adds several preliminary stages to the traditional blind date. The date is still virtually "blind" since you haven't met in person, and these preliminary stages each offer a great opportunity to get your Oh-No-Second out of the way -if there is to be one. This luxury isn't available in a traditional blind date where you must disguise your Oh-No-Second with a fake smile -which is never comfortable.

Let's take a look at some real life examples of Oh-No-Seconds happening at each stage of the online dating process for some education and entertainment! Each of the following Oh-No-Seconds are true and happened to real people I know. Do enjoy them.

Profile Scenario

The online dating service said they were 90%+ perfect for each other. She took the time to read every word of his online profile (self-description). He seemed smart. He performed volunteer work and she loved that. They both loved long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by the fireplace and "chocolate Labs." She held her breath then clicked the "photo" button for what she hoped would be her knight in shining armor. The photo revealed her best friend's boyfriend. "Oh No."

Email Scenario

The profile was ideal and the photo passed with flying colors. They swapped a few emails that seemed to flow easily. But then something started to give her a strange feeling. After the first day of correspondence he began to reply to her emails only moments after she clicked "Send." She couldn't keep up with him and eventually stopped trying. Soon she received two emails from him to every one email she sent. He asked why she was taking so long to respond. "If you aren't interested in me just tell me," he demanded. Less than a day later he is writing in all capital letters asking what's wrong with her and why hasn't she written back. She has her Oh-No-Second and feels fortunate it happened before she had given him her phone number.

Telephone Scenario

His profile was wonderful. His emails were grammatically perfect, flattering and poetic. She had exchanged messages at a comfortable pace for about two weeks when they agreed to take the bold step of talking on the phone. Two minutes into the phone conversation an "Oh-No-Hint" was revealed.

"Did you get my photo?" She asked.

"Yep. Your picture lookted real good when I seent it" he blurted. Obviously not the author of the great emails, she later discovered his Mom had been his ghostwriter. What a romantic, buzz-kill to have e-courted your potential date's mom. Major "Oh no."

In-Person Scenario 1

Her profile passed with flying colors. He enjoyed a fabulous email dialog with her for three weeks. He called her on the phone to discover her conversation was as consistently witty as were her emails. Her picture was a bit hard to make out -her chin was raised, her lips were pursed with heavy lipstick, and a scarf & sunglasses covered her eyes and forehead. She had a serious expression --like a Cosmo cover model. Oh, what the heck? He went for it and agreed to meet her in person. "Oh no!" Visual fraud! The only part of the photo that looked like her was the mole on her cheek. He'd fallen victim to an in-person Oh-No-Second with all the awkwardness therein.

In-Person Scenario 2

The profile, photograph, email and phone conversation all went smoothly. The first visual impression was even an "Ah-Yes" for both him and her. Dinner at the restaurant was going well when suddenly he stops talking, pulls out a small sealed pill box and proceeds to line up 10 multi-colored vitamins in a neat row on the table by his glass of water. He insists on taking them one at a time between dinner and desert (because that's how his mom taught him) and he was good enough to bring a matching set of pills that he loudly insisted she take along with him. "Oh no."

What's the point of all this? Little more than entertainment, I suppose. And I'm sure you haven't found these scenarios to be soothing if you are considering an online personal. But it's important to appease online dating advocates by stating that it can actually begin a successful relationship. It can also offer a slight advantage by bringing the opportunity for an Oh-No-Second earlier in the process -before you experience the pain of a face-to-face deal breaker. It's just another comfort added to your life by your personal computer. Think of it as wading in the dating pool a bit before jumping in!

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