On tonight's episode of "Catfish," we meet Lauren and Derek, a couple who've been in an on-again, off-again online relationship for eight years. (Fun fact: Eight years is also the average length of a marriage!) Much to Lauren's frustration, the two have yet to even video chat, so she enlists the help of Nev and Max to meet her dream man — or at least find out if he's real.
If you've ever watched "Catfish" and wondered why the heck people who meet online wait so long to hang out in real life, relationship expert and founder of online therapy site, Pretty Padded Room, Bea Arthur, explains, "Because the fantasy is fun! In real life, the honeymoon period only lasts a short time before little things start to annoy you and fights start happening, so I think it’s normal that people like to make the getting-to-know-you phase last longer." Bea also notes that, the longer a couple waits to meet, the more nerve-racking it can become. "In a digital relationship, you can present the best part of yourself and hide the most vulnerable part of yourself," she says. "So when it comes time to meet, there’s this fear that 'If you really knew me, you wouldn't want me anymore.'"
We're not gonna spoil the episode for you, but Lauren and Derek's story ends — or, should we say, begins — in a very unexpected way. So unexpected, in fact, that even Nev and Max are surprised. Bea notes that a couple should never wait too long once things get serious, especially if one person person feels like it's time. "As soon as one person wants to meet in real life, both people should work on making that happen," she says. "Otherwise you risk introducing distrust or resentment into the relationship, which is exactly what you don’t want when building a solid foundation."
Watch "Catfish" on MTV, Tuesdays at 10/9c, and follow the action links below to learn more about how to have healthy online and offline relationships with yourself and others.