When it comes to romanticizing online matches beyond their actual reality, I am the queen. If I've decided to invest my time in online dating, looking at someone's profile once with a quick browse through their pictures is enough for me to decide that yes, we could probably be soulmates. But after hours spent fantasizing about a blissful future, complete with winter visits to our second home in Tuscany, I'm in for a rude awakening. After actually going on the date, I am usually hit with the fact that he is not the quintessential male lead from your typical Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie. He's just a regular guy.
On top of the disappointment I tend to unnecessarily feel, I start to lose interest quickly the moment I know that my daydreams weren't the reality. Then, it's back to the drawing board to start the whole process over again with another guy whose story I will once again write on my own. Maybe I just haven't met the right person yet, or maybe I'm holding my prospects up to a completely unattainable standard.
Either way, if you have the slightest worry that maybe you're making someone out to be better in your head, chances are that you are. Here's how to know you're creating unrealistic expectations from a baseless situations.
1. What You “Know” About Them, They Haven't Actually Told You
Heavy emphasis on “know” here. If you take a second to think of all the qualities you know about this person you've just met, how did you come to know them? Was it through a conversation where they outright told you they're a classic romantic who loves champagne and strawberries? Or did you infer that fact based off of their off-hand comment about that time they drank champagne on New Year's Eve? Making some inferences are fine – people won't always tell you directly their best and worst qualities, and relationships are in part, learning through someone else's actions – but if most of the information you've collected is coming from these assumptions, you need to check the facts. You're probably creating most of these qualities on your own because it services how you want that person to be.
2. You Haven't Been Talking Long
If you've only been interacting with this person for less than a week, you couldn't possibly know that they want a Parisian-themed wedding, or that they've always dreamed of owning their own chocolate shop (unless the conversation got really intense, really quickly). Feeling like you somehow know someone inside and out, or feeling like they're "perfect" because of it, is something you can't actually know unless you've met someone and truly gotten to know them. Or on the less extreme side, assuming that they're one “type” of person based on the few conversations you've had is also dangerous territory. Assumptions are never your friend, so try and refrain from making them, especially when those assumptions are defining who that person is, and what that will mean to you.
3. Their Profiles Are Pretty Short
Once again, if you haven't even met the person and you've only learned limited amounts of info about them, chances are you're creating some ideas about them in your head that are unrealistic. Reading someone's dating profile or Tinder bio should require minimal reading between the lines. Unless it's overtly obvious that someone is an outstanding, intelligent, and kind person from the words that they've written (which it never is, even if they've come out and said it), give them the chance to prove these things. It'll save you a lot of aggravation later on if you allow a person to show you who they are rather than getting completely ahead of yourself.
4. You're Already Making Plans In Your Head
Honesty hour for a second: I've totally done this. Swiping through Tinder, if I come across a cutie who seems sweet, writes something witty in his bio and instantly matches with me, I start to picture whether I can see myself with him. And if I'm super into them, for no other reason then what I picture them to be like, I think about us effortlessly bonding over a pizza, the food of true love. If you're like me and you're instantly getting ready to make this person your next Great Love, take a step back for a second. You can't possibly know whether they'd be S.O. material this early in the game, so take a moment to find out rather than rushing into it.
5. You're Already Gushing About Him/Her To Your Friends
If all of your friends already know this person's name and about your “hunch” that they might be the one to take you out of your romantic slump, it's time to hit the breaks. In my humble opinion, the true mark of someone who is infatuated with someone else is if they've told their friends way too much about it. That's completely fine if you guys are already dating, and you're still stuck in the honeymoon stage, but beyond that it's a bit unwarranted. Your friends will thank you for sparing them the unnecessary details.
6. You're Quick To Willingly Misinterpret Signals
You may not even realize you're doing this (cue the detailed analysis with your besties over wine) but if you're trying to put someone into a mold you've created, you're likely to ignore any signs they don't fit it. For example, if your latest Tinder flame is already hinting that they just want a good, old-fashioned hookup, and you're picturing dating and getting to know them, take their words at face value. A person will start to drop signals about who they are and what they want even before you go on your first date, so take them in stride.
7. You're Also Quick To Overlook Red Flags
If their profile tells you that you have a 10 percent chance of being a match, and their profile has more than one pic of them in a “Donald Trump 2016” t-shirt, you may not be compatible. Just because they're cute doesn't mean you can overlook blaring red flags you wouldn't regularly settle for. Take the time to acknowledge they may not be for you, and move on to someone who is more your speed. This way, you won't have to go on one incredibly horrific date later.
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