I met my husband before texting or the Internet was around. We met through a group of friends and hit it off very quickly despite some obvious differences. I love to read, I got straight As in school, and I rarely rocked the boat with authority figures. He grew up with undiagnosed dyslexia, was a class clown, and was a loner who got into fights regularly. Our similarities only became apparent after we started talking. We both love stories of all kinds, especially sci-fi. We watch TV, movies, and videos, and he listens to audiobooks voraciously.
In the more modern dating era, we both have dating profiles online to enhance our open relationship. My first instinct, as someone who loves a cleverly written phrase, is to turn up my nose at one-word answers, misspellings, and grammar mistakes. Spelling and grammar come easily to me, and growing up I considered mistakes in hand-written letters (remember those?) to be disrespectful and lazy. A certain leeway was given for casual notes, but I expected to, at least, be able to understand the message and to hear the writer’s speaking style in the language.
When word processors came along, spell-checkers helped a lot. However, sometimes the suggested correction was just as far off as the word being replaced. Grammar-check offers vague advice that sometimes is no help at all. It is ultimately frustrating to see the squiggly line under a word or phrase but to not understand the correction. By necessity, the Internet has broadened our scope and forced us to learn typing and stringing words together on a screen to communicate, and I can’t help but wonder: would I have noticed my husband if we’d met in the current age?
He has, through practice, hard work, and some editing tips from me, improved by leaps and bounds. Words don’t always look like they sound, and they don’t even sound the same from everyone who speaks them, anyway. But back when we met, my sweet husband, who teared up when both our children were born and who was my rock during the slightly insane days following my mother’s death, who can’t wait to spend time with me and yet still challenges and encourages me to seek all opportunities and experiences both in and out of our relationship, might have been overlooked.
I admit, I come close to the dreaded grammar-Nazi status. It is more difficult to figure out the meaning of someone’s comment if it is not arranged the way I expect or if there are words in there that are not spelled correctly. I have passed up profiles for terrible reasons and, sometimes, for good reasons. But I honestly don’t know if I would have passed up his.
In person, he is passionate and sweet, outspoken and emotional. He broods and thinks and solves problems, and rarely laughs out loud, which makes it even more special when he does. He sees all the angles to issues and is ready to debate them all and to educate his friends about them. He is also generous, a great gift-shopper, and he makes me laugh all the time.
I don’t know if he could express all of that on OK Cupid.
We met someone once online who was charming and funny. He sent steamy innuendoes on Instant Messenger, and they were letter-perfect and grammatically correct. When we met in person, he was as dull as a cardboard cutout of himself. I chatted with him during dinner but found my mind wandering to what my much-more-interesting husband was doing. The man who looked so perfect on-screen couldn’t hold my interest at all in practice.
So I hope, even as I understand the need for clarity and coherence, that I can lighten up just a little. I hope I can meet someone who might not know which “to” or “there” to use but who does know where to find a great restaurant or a play. Face-to-face communication should be the goal, and online communication is not always an accurate predictor of skills in real life.