How To Stay Grounded When Online Dating
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that many of you are confident, fairly attractive people who are well-rounded and pretty independent. You can likely make at least one person laugh really hard, and have probably been complimented on some facet of your personality. I’m sure you also have very good taste in food, pretty good taste in music, and you’re very secure in your identity. (If more than these, niiice. I like your confidence.)
Regardless of if you have never dated before, if you’ve been bagel biting left and right for some time, or you just moved to a new city and need an easy way to meet people, I’d like to create a space where we can be encouraged in our relationships. Which can be tough. Real tough. Like telling a diehard Texan that they have to move out of the great country of Texas, or teaching your new puppy who hates water to jump in the lake. Tough, but fun, and makes for great stories.
Here’s a few tips and encouragement I have for the online dater (or the skeptic who’s considering):
Get over the idea that online dating isn’t a “real way” to meet people.
Often online dating is perceived as kind of “last resort” (don’t look at me, I just heard it) or maybe you’ve somehow formed a stigma attached to online dating (Everyone’s a creep! I’m not desperate! It’s too public!). For several reasons you’d prefer to meet people “the real way:” at a yoga class or at the gym, through a campus organization or hobby, during boring party conversation over beer pong with other attractive people in the room (subjective), or frequenting a certain coffeeshop or bookstore way, way too many times. Consider this: we live in the most connected, technologically advanced period of time that has ever existed, and online dating is just one of the many mediums to meet friends and potential dates. No one will force you, but people do meet online and end up lovin’ each other, so it could be worth a try.
Expect that you will need to invest some time.
Chances are you’re used to doing things on your own time, talking about yourself, not being vulnerable on the internet (I don’t blame you these days), and quite possibly never having to try to sum yourself up upon first glance for a stranger to size up. It’s nice to have no chance of rejection, especially if you’re not that hot about one-on-one’s, but investment can lead to great reward. Postpone catching up on Mad Men or caring (but not really caring) about others on social media for a few hours. You may be sacrificing your time on dates without the promise of a successful relationship, but it can be worth it. And when it is, you’ll be glad you did invest that time.
Try to learn something from each date.
Chances are that if you’re messaging and haven’t met up yet, you’ll need motivation to keep talking to someone you only know through limited exchanges. Don’t run with an imagined idea of who they are, but the beginning of any friendship or relationship stems from a bit of interest and without knowing if the relationship or even friendship will work out. Either way, you’ll gain something from it – if not a connection, then a good date. If not a good date, then perhaps clarity on what you would consider a good date, or new knowledge about yourself: something you found attractive, an issue more important than you thought, or how you responded to a certain question or type of person. If anything, even a reason to realize you like being single for now (because let’s admit- it’s great to be single). And that’s ok.
Remind yourself what a date is.
The word “date” is such a loaded word. There are so many societal expectations and constructs that revolve around that particular word, but how I’d describe one is as simple as this: two solid individuals choosing to get to know each other. If you’re having trouble going on dates for a variety of legitimate reasons and would like to, a site like CMB is perfect for those hesitant or dipping their toes back into dating – one match a day, a simple like or pass. Dating is a perfect closed situation to practice social and relational skills and an opportunity to be polite and even to encourage someone else, wherever they are in dating. Initially, it can be a little unnerving to put your profile up, but just remember: no one person can be summed up in a few sentences or even by a mutual friend. Go at your own pace, and try to have fun. Because you know, dates are fun.
A while ago, it took months for me to realize I really wasn’t as open as I thought at a point when deciding if I was ready to date again. It may be easy to originally reject all potentials that come your way, but if there’s no glaring reason to say no, why not give it a shot (or an hour at most)? A good friend advised me to try to find something that I like about the person I’m on a date with. I know way too many couples in serious relationships or married now that originally thought their spouse was totally out of the question (Ooh, wouldn’t this be fun to share details on? A learning experience for both parties, no doubt). Certainly no one will make you go on dates, but I think a great learning experience is dating outside of your “type,” depending on where you’re at, no matter how painful that sounds.
Everyone is in a different place.
Someone might be learning how to be better at one-on-one conversation. Some people might just be looking for a fun way to spend an evening. Some people might seem like they’re open to a long-term relationship, but actually interested in a short-term relationship. Some people may have been on so many dates, that they’re (unfortunately) a bit blasé about your time together. Going on a few casual dates has really just reminded me that everyone is in a different place. You don’t really know where they (or you, sometimes) are until you chat with them, and if you’re newly dating, you might find yourself attracted to or forming certain goals throughout dating that you’ve never considered before. Learn how to read people and communicate directly, acknowledge your date as a person, and grow from it. This is for you to figure where you’re at, too!
Overall, why date online?
I’ve got great friends that are fabulous, healthy, responsible, active, have wonderful families, a blast to be around, dedicated to their hobbies, and people I admire dearly who have a hard time getting outside of their immediate circles. I do think that there’s something everyone can learn from specifically online dating in being open (at least for a period of time). You might meet someone special, become much better at interacting socially with others on a one-on-one basis, be more open to being set up by friends afterward, or even just learn more about yourself (maybe confirming online dating isn’t for you, and that’s ok).
Did you agree or disagree with any of these? Other interesting points you realized about relationships when considering dating, actually dating right now, being engaged, or after getting married?
Feel free to tweet me about it if you’d like! If you liked this post, check out more date tips on CMB.
About Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB): CMB is a free dating service that helps members make meaningful connections. It’s designed for busy singles who want to find something real with little or no effort.