Welcome to the World of Online Dating!
You've heard all the stories. Perhaps you even know a couple that met via the internet. Perhaps you've seen those e-Harmony commercials. Somehow, you've become inspired to set up your own dating profile online. You've picked a service, you've got some hot pictures, you've written a cute or serious or bitter profile, and you're ready to start chatting.
Congratulations and welcome to the world of Online Dating!
Although online dating first seemed like something for folks who had no luck with face to face dating for one reason or another, online dating has now become mainstream. Just about everybody's doing it, and it's never been easier.
Or has it?
Dating is not for the faint of heart in even the most ideal conditions. Many formerly single people or even singletons themselves complain about the rigors of dating. Their complaints are very valid. Dating takes time, money, energy, and it can be an emotional roller coaster. In fact, I once lamented to my therapist about just how hard it is, saying, "Why the hell is it so hard to find THE ONE? For God's sake, why?"
She reasonably replied, "Because you're looking for The One. It should not be easy, it should not be instantaneous."
Makes sense, right? For most of us, yes, it does make sense. If you're talking about The One, well, that is quite an investment. That old cliche comes to mind, that nothing worth having is easily gotten.
So internet dating is not necessarily going to be a snap, or at least, not without the right attitude and skills.
This begs the question - how do I successfully do internet dating?
Many people approach dating without much thought. This is not a good idea and it leads to many wasted efforts. That's because it's pretty hard to get to a destination without knowing what the destination is. So you need to think about some things.
Start at the beginning: What is my ultimate dating goal for now?
It's very important to give this a bit of thought.
Are you looking for the one? Are you interested in marriage? Are you open to marriage if you find someone special? Are you just wanting to understand yourself a bit more? Are you just having fun? What are you doing?
Knowing what you ultimately want, for today, helps you date the people who will want the same things for now. This, in turn, results in a more pleasant experience for all involved. After all, if you're not looking for the One right this minute, should you really be dating people, who are currently seeking just that? Not necessarily.
Will your goal change? Of course. But be sure and know what your goal is for now. When it changes, you will know, and then you can change what you're doing.
Be Honest When Online Dating.
Or ANY dating, really. When you set up your dating profile, don't ever lie. Don't lie by omission. Don't flat-out tell lies. Don't fudge your marital status. Don't lie about your goals. Don't put up a picture that's 10 years old. Just don't lie about anything.
Lying not only results in hurt feelings for whomever has been lied to - it also results in lost time and wasted efforts for you. If your dating profile isn't based on reality, then you will not get what you want and need - someone who accepts you as you are, and believe me, there is someone for EVERYONE out there. Seriously. So there is no need to lie, ever. And there is no excuse.
Use only ONE dating service.
Two, if you absolutely must. I have heard women (and men, but mostly women) remark again and again that they saw so-and-so's profile up on several different dating sites, and does that mean that this person is an untrustworthy player? That is the impression you give when you have profiles on several different sites.
Another nasty impression you give - that you're desperate. You may think you're being efficient, but truly, use one site at a time.
If you have to use more than one dating service, make sure the profiles match on the important stuff.
If they don't, then your prospective dates who find you on both or all the sites, will think you're dishonest. Important stuff would be the obvious - gender, age, etc., but also, don't portray yourself as a mountaineer on one site and a bookworm on the other. You needn't copy your jokes and humor from your first profile, but please don't portray yourself differently on each profile.
Meet lots of people.
When I was dating, I once asked a friend of mine who'd been married for 30 years for their advice on dating. He was a successful sales guy and he said dating was like sales. A lot of prospects go in the funnel at the top, you qualify and qualify, and eventually, an order plops out at the bottom.
So how does that translate in online dating? Simple.
Talk to everyone.
Then meets lots of people.
Please, please, please, do not chat online for months before meeting someone. If you really need that long, prepare for disappointment. Of course, don't be stupid. But you should be able to quickly determine during your chat or email exchange if you want to talk to this person on the phone. Then after your phone call, you should quickly determine if you want to meet them in person.
Yes, there are crazies out there. There are crazies at the bar too. They're also found at the library, at church, etc. Be safe when meeting people - don't give someone you just started chatting with your landline number so they can reverse-search it, but why not just do some talking on the cell phone? That cannot be reverse-searched. Meet people in crowded places. Just be safe. Use your common sense. Common sense is not eternal online chatting and email exchange.
Meet lots of people. . .safely.
Meet for the first time in a restaurant or some other public place. Park in a well-lit space. Wait a while before you meet somewhere private with someone. Don't give out your address right away. If you're really worried about it, park a ways away so they don't get your license plate number or something. Use common sense. Let your friends know where you're going and with whom. Be safe.
Know when to take the profile down or privatize it.
If things are going well, have the Talk. Are we ready to stop looking for someone for now? Do we want to try this by ourselves for a while and see what happens? Many dating sites offer the option of just making the profile private. I recommend just removing it. Making it private and retaining the user name, etc., just creates suspicion and distrust - not a good growing medium for your new relationship, huh? If the profile was kick-ass and you're not sure yet, just save the text somewhere for a while.
This is a topic that you should mutually discuss and be honest about. Don't dance around it. Just be direct. There's nothing wrong with telling someone that you are really enjoying them and you're thinking about taking your profile down, and what are their thoughts on that? That is a good way to get the conversation started. But, however you start it, just make sure that you do, and make sure that you two decide together at some point, when the profiles have become obsolete.
That's it for this post folks. Be sure to come back for more wisdom from the Super Dating Coach. :)