It’s hard to meet people. Church? Everyone is married. Work? Off limits. Bar? No thank-you. Friends? Small window of opportunity. Grocery store? Only in romantic comedies. So what options are left for us singles? Love online.
Though in the last 10 years, the stereotypes that accompanied meeting someone online have changed to make it more culturally acceptable, it can still be intimidating.
1. Love Online: Don’t be afraid.
These days everybody knows somebody who met their spouse or significant other online. I started online dating before it was cool. I have met a lot of quality men, kept a few good friends and had strong 2 year relationships come out of on-line dating. So, don’t let fear of something new or the unknown hold you back.
2. Love Online: It is what you make it.
App dating: Hook up or quality? I don’t think the platform we choose for dating should dictate our experience. You can guide the conversation or choose to cut it if it is being directed into waters that are not clean. I used Tinder (“the hook-up app” according to my social group) and met some real quality men. They were kind and caring and we dated without any push toward dirty water.
3. Love Online: Vet them.
Ask questions. Get to know a bit about them before investing in them. Find a way to make sure they are the type of person you would want to spend time with.
To start with, I had a few conversations with people asking simple things like where they were from, about their family, their career, pets, vacations, hobbies. Try to use easy questions that invite conversation, do not overstep bounds and allow you to see a picture of who they might be.
Also, when I felt I had comfortably vetted a person I always met quickly, in public. Something easy. Coffee or tea during the daylight hours. If they continued to put off a public meeting, then I focused my attention elsewhere.
4. Love Online: Don’t have expectations.
Think of each date as an opportunity to meet and hang out with someone from a different walk of life. Don’t expect more than a conversation and to broaden your horizons. Be pleased if it is good conversation and even more so if there is a connection. Not every date will lead to finding love.
5. Love Online: Know yourself.
This goes back to my number one rule of dating. If you are going to find love online, when you know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, then you know what you want and what you don’t want.
If you know who you are, you won’t flounder because you will have set comfortable boundaries. Hanging out? Cool. Relationship? Cool. It’s whatever you want. You just have to be sure you know what you want and you are diplomatically clear about your intentions to the people you date.
6. Love Online: Don’t let it monopolize your time.
It’s easy to get sucked in to constantly checking the site or app for communication because it is fun and exciting to receive attention, but be careful. The thing that makes you interesting and attractive is being you. Don’t spend all your time dating; maintain your life. Don’t let all your thoughts and conversations revolve around it because that’s not what makes you you.
7. Love Online: Don’t take it personal.
One of the most important things I had to learn with internet dating was that it was not about me. The people that didn’t match with me, that didn’t write back, or that stop responding…they didn’t know me. And when it happens to you, because it happens to the best of us, remember: they don’t know how fabulous you are.
And you don’t know their reasons. You don’t know what is happening in their life or even what they are looking for. Who knows, you might have just dodged a bullet! So don’t internalize their actions because it has nothing to do with you. One of the beautiful things about online dating is that they owe you nothing and you owe them nothing.
8. Love Online: Remember, people are not disposable.
Along with the idea that we owe each other nothing, we must remember that everyone has feelings. While not everyone will be your cup of tea, and harder to swallow is that you won’t be everyone’s favorite flavor, the golden rule is especially important in rejecting people or dealing with rejection.
Treat others as you want to be treated.
When you deal with people, remember that they are people. You can continue to find other matches; swipe right and replace them, but don’t let that numb the fact that they deserve to be treated with the same respect that you do. Use your integrity; even when it is easier not to.
9. Love Online: Most importantly, be safe.
Remember, we live a sick and sad world and must be aware to be safe. Much of this goes without saying, but sometimes we need reminders. So here I go, playing Mom:
First of all, Never give anyone online money or access to your private information, no matter how well you think you know them, no matter their sob story, no matter how much you want to help them, no matter how you feel about them. If you are getting to know someone and they ask for money, get out of that friend/relationship.
If and when you meet, meet at a public place during daylight hours. Do not let them pick you up. Do not tell them where you live. Do not tell them the name of your neighborhood or apartment complex. (Yes, even you men.)
On a first dates, I used to send a screen shot of the profile pic of the man to a girl-friend with the location of the date. Then I would text her when I got home. Consider practicing small, smart safety tips like this. (Yes, even you men.)
Do not drink on your first few dates. Have water or a coke. Alcohol excuses much and blurs lines we would never cross sober.
10. Love Online: Have fun.
Last, dating is hard. It’s getting to know strangers in hopes that you will meet “The One”, and that you will find love online. Don’t let it stress you out. Don’t let it break your heart. Take everything lightly and make a point to enjoy it. This is your time and you are investing in these people. Go in with a laugh and smile and make it worth your time and theirs.