Trust Senses, Not Imagination

With personal online encounters, our five senses get fed by our imaginations!
We can't smell or touch or taste or hear the would-be object of our affections. We can't (SET ITAL) really (END ITAL) see what they look like, and we can't see what their bodies are saying -- which we use more than anything else to form a first impression.
But we (SET ITAL) can (END ITAL) quiz them! And if we manage to do that -- without logging as real what we only imagine -- we might get to know them (SET ITAL) before (END ITAL) we get emotionally involved.
When we can't see somebody, we tend to use one of those lengthy questionnaires designed to help us get to know them and figure out whether we're compatible. So, maybe blind dates aren't so blind, after all.
The meet-first alternative is that scene where girl sees boy and pretends not to. Boy sees girl being coy and then saunters over. Before you know it, he has her phone number and a time for dinner on a piece of paper that appeared from nowhere. I don't know how often that actually happens in real life, but it happens enough in movies like "Top Gun" that we think it's supposed to.
And that's just the beginning. The boy and girl who know almost nothing about each other will not be the same until dinner. They have (SET ITAL) seen (END ITAL) each other. And they have spied marriage and babies -- or at least romance.
The coy female and the sauntering male have met their match! Well, maybe. They forgot to ask questions and get to know each other.
Reading a prospect's answers to a list of questions may not make us flutter or stutter, but maybe keeping our wits about us long enough to find out a person's last name is useful. And if you think you're too practical to be taken in by sparkling eyes or toned muscles, you might very well appreciate the efficiency of the questionnaire as a screening tool.
Although our eyes filter, say, nine out of 10 prospects quite effortlessly in the blink of an eye, the problem is that they also eliminate people for no good reason! Ah, but so do questionnaires!
So, do we opt for meeting and then asking questions OR asking questions and then meeting? If somebody stays in the running, they eventually get hit with both, right? We eliminate a different set of people with our eyes than with our questions, but in both cases, we can eliminate them for the wrong reasons.
Maybe we play the numbers game. It's easier to get people to send a completed questionnaire (albeit a generic one) than it is to get them to parade by for a private viewing. And hey, those questionnaires include a photograph! No-brainer?
Maybe, but when they fill those high-power positions we read about, they don't take applications. They develop a short list based on what they've observed in the marketplace. Granted, you're not trying to turn Merrill Lynch around, but I've always preferred to hire an employee I had seen on the job someplace else. And besides, "partner" happens to be a very prominent position!
We could even use a "grid outlining the gifts and deficits" of candidates like journalists developed for the 2008 presidential hopefuls. Or how about a live debate?
I still like the idea of looking somebody in the eye and knowing what I know based on what's in there. Maybe I've trained myself to see what's important, but I think we instinctively know who can be trusted -- except with professional politicians!
We just need to remember to keep things -- like breasts and biceps and expensive haircuts and cars -- in perspective. In other words, we don't have to eliminate people for the wrong reasons, whether we're screening them live or on a computer screen.
What makes two people compatible is how deeply and broadly they connect.
Jan Denise is a columnist, author of the book "Naked Relationships," speaker and coach based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at To find out more about Jan Denise, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a nationally syndicated columnist, author of the book "Naked Relationships," speaker and coach based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at