A few months back I decided it was time to get back on the horse when it came to dating. Over the previous two years I had been recovering from a break up, losing a job, and moving. I had been on a few dates, but wasn’t actively seeking a relationship. I was still kind of new in town, and my church community is small and mostly married, so I bit the bullet and asked OkCupid and eHarmony for help. After a few months and more first dates than I can count, here’s what I’m thankful for, and a few suggestions for anyone who might give it a try:
1. It forces you to be specific. What do you want? Why? What does that really look like? What are your deal breakers? Imagine how many doomed-from-the-beginning relationships you could have avoided by answering a few questions.
2. You learn to tell your story. Likewise, it’s important to quickly communicate what’s important to you. Don’t share everything. The worst dates I’ve been on is when a girl shared with her whole life story, including habits and mistakes that are less than appealing. Let that come up in time.
3. It’s like looking in the mirror. Every time you present yourself to someone else, you get a glimpse of what they see. I don’t come across nearly as self confident or merciful as I’d like. I tend to get bogged down in painfully deep conversation. I’d probably have more second dates if I loosened up on the first.
And a few tips for anyone that’s interested in giving it a try:
1. Be honest. You might be able to hide your height or weight online, but not when you meet face to face. Present yourself, both in pictures and description confidently, but not misleading. Talk about what you really do and really love. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with the check after an evening with a person who was completely different than they presented themselves.
2. Have low expectations. When I started a friend warned me against it. She was afraid the sheer numbers could be depressing. Whereas in real life, you might get blown off, flaked out on, or have a disappointing encounter once every few months, this process means you might have those painful experiences a few times a week. You can’t let it get you down.
3. Don’t let it replace having a life. I’m happy for those people that met the perfect someone on-line, but I’m not one of them. Use the web as a tool to supplement your social life, not replace it. People have been successfully meeting without profiles for thousands of years. Plus, interesting stories and hobbies are required for a good profile or face to face conversation.
4. Don’t do it if you don’t have room. If you’re too busy, too caught up in your own drama, or just have a life too full of friends or family for a significant other, don’t waste someone else’s time. Wait to seek a relationship until you want one, and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to bring someone else into your life.