Online Dating

What’s It Like to Meet a “Penpal”


When you meet someone at work or at a social gathering, whether to make friends with him is based on the whole image of this person: his looks, his voice, the way he talks, walks. Topics fall into some kind of superficial common interest, e.g. the occasion and the task etc. In this way, each type of person has the equal opportunity to become your friend. Your phone conversations and regular interactions at work will naturally help develop this friendship. What’s more, during emergencies, both of your presences, even just to lend a hand, will enhance this friendship. In a word, this kind of friendship is traditional, tends to be firm and real, because you experience hardships and share happy moments with your friends and hug them for real.



Penpals are different. The differences stay and gradually fade away when you finally meet and continue corresponding and meeting your penpal.

On the Internet you’re more likely to meet people who are “like-minded“; especially for those introverted persons who are better at expressing themselves in writing, the Internet presents a better stage for them. When you meet a person online, you don’t know what he looks like, how he talks and moves. You saw a profile and the person has something in common with you then you started to correspond with him. In this way, you get to know a person in the opposite way, that is, from inside to outside. Some may never meet.

What’s it like to meet a penpal

The tough part of penpaling is when the penpals eventually meet. It’s never like what was imagined. It’s not about being “good”, “bad”, “better” or “worse”; rather, it’s about being “different“. Why different? It will take you some time to connect your penpal’s previous image in your mind with the real one right in front of your eyes.

In addition, as I mentioned before, some people are good at writing rather than talking, therefore, when you meet, you will probably wonder whether you have met the wrong person who was so poetically expressive in email but who has trouble handling a smooth conversation face-to-face.

Some penpals find it difficult to meet one another; or even if they meet it’s hard for them to meet frequently due to the distance. Thus, penpals usually sound less real because they can’t show up when you are in need, neither can you. Two hearts are so close while they are so far away from one another.

Penpal vs Friend = Book vs Movie

I would like to compare those two experiences to reading a book and watching a movie based on the book. Making friends in real life is like watching a movie first then reading the book and usually people don’t read the book after watching the movie, unless the movie is literarily excellent; penpaling is like reading a book first then watching the movie based on the book. The chance is when you want to watch the movie it means the book is good enough and when the movie ends, you mutter, “I prefer the book”. Are the book and the movie the same? Will you be able to make ONE image out of the book and the movie?

TV – > Book

I had these two similar experiences. One was when I watched the TV series “Pass by Happiness” and then read the book “Happy Style”. I have to say, the TV series is better and the producer is obviously a more literary person.

Book – > Movie

I watched Bridge to Terabithia after I read the book. I prefer the book a little bit more because the movie didn’t reflect the most important part of the book – the main character’s thoughts. It’s as if you met your penpal online then you met him in person with the pre-conceived image of the person in your mind. The chances are that the person would never be as talkative as in his email.

Penpal – > Friend – > Real

Anyways, as long as the person is super, to connect the image in your mind and the one for real is still an enchanting experience, as you gain two persons/friendships overnight and this forms a perfect and entire image of the person.

Min Min

Min Min has enjoyed observing people since her 20s and has noticed 3 temperament patterns that match Keirsey’s theory that she read later in life. She has an innate sense of people’s personalities that helps her to understand others better.

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