Over 40 million Americans are using some kind of online dating service. I bet you know at least one success story of a cyber-romance that ended in love and marriage. But, I’m sure you’ve also heard at least a dozen online dating horror stories. So, what’s a girl to do? Whether you are contemplating online dating or have been using it for awhile, I hope you find these tips helpful.
Dos and Don'ts of Online Dating
Dos and Don'ts
DO have realistic expectations- So you’ve taken the leap and decided to try online dating. I mean, in so many ways, it seems like a no-brainer, right? It’s a vast pool of single men looking for love at your fingertips—and organized by zip code for goodness sake! Finding a great guy online should be as easy as shooting fish in a barrell! Well, not necessarily. Finding the right person is an inexact, mysterious process— even with an “advanced search” option. You’re going to have to go through some disappointments, learn some lessons, take some risks and set some boundaries. Don’t confuse online dating with easy, effortless dating. If you do, you may end up throwing your computer out of your car window.
DON’T put all of your eggs in the online basket- Online dating is one way to meet someone. It’s a tool; but I caution you against making it the only tool in your toolbox. Log off and go on a hike, check out live music, sit at a coffee shop alone, or maybe even join some new groups to expand your social circle. Just like a financial planner would advise, you need to diversify your options, girl. Computers can only do so much!
DON’T let online dating take over your life- Are you are trying to squeeze in too many dates in one week? Do you obsessively hit “refresh” every 30 seconds waiting for that elusive wink or email? For some, online dating can begin to feel all-consuming. If you are guilty of online obsessing, try setting up some boundaries around your activity. For instance, only check your account once a day or don’t go on more than a couple of first dates a month. Make sure you keep those happy hour plans with the girls. Make time for that gym class you love. Read that book on your nightstand. All of these things make you a happier, healthier catch!
DO take a break if you are feeling angry/sad/tired/bitter- While it’s understandable to be cautiously optimistic about online dating, it’s not fair to write off every guy as a total shmuck due to online dating fatigue. Maybe you’re exhausted from going on too many disappointing dates. Maybe you are tired of not getting any good prospects in your inbox. Or, perhaps too many flakes have left you feeling angry toward the entire male species. Listen to your gut. If you need a break, take one! This isn’t a NASCAR race. There are no rules against taking a pit stop to refuel and recharge.
DO treat people with kindness and respect - Online dating can feel like the wild west where there is no time or place for good manners. People just up and disappear after days of email banter, dates are canceled at the last minute and thoughtful emails receive no response. Don’t be one of these careless cyber outlaws. Learn how to politely decline, respond kindly to sincere effort and show respect for a person’s time. Remember the Golden Rule. Just because some people choose to de-humanize the experience, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
DON’T fall in love with a profile- He quotes your favorite movie, he professes his love for smart, independent women, he is the life of the party and he is a great listener... what’s not to like? Not so fast. Please, please save yourself some heartache and remember that you do not know this man. You may be getting a glimpse of some potential areas of compatibility, but You. Don’t. Know. Him. Maybe his sister wrote that charming profile for him or maybe he is, indeed, your soulmate. There is so much more to learn about someone that simply cannot be captured in a profile. Hold your horses, girlfriend.
DON’T let online dating dictate your self-worth- Not only do you not know him, but it’s equally important to remember that he does not know you. Don’t let a click of a mouse dictate how you feel about yourself. If he doesn’t contact you or respond to your email, it is not a rejection of you. He. Doesn’t. Know. You. Maybe he doesn’t date anyone who is spiritual, maybe he likes brunettes, or maybe he is dating someone else... You may never know why he didn’t reach out, but you must remember that it has nothing to do with your value and worth as a human being.
DO put your safety first- I probably don’t have to say this, but make sure you meet in a public place for the first few dates, ok? ( Did I mention you don’t know him?)
And, above all else...
NEVER lose hope- Whether you are dating online or off-line, searching for the right partner can be emotionally taxing. Putting yourself out there is part of the process, but it’s also important that you take care of yourself so that your optimistic, hopeful spirit is leading you on your journey. Love yourself enough to know that you deserve to find great love. Don’t ever give up.
About the Author
Amanda McPherson’s passion is empowering women to follow their dreams and to love themselves just as they are. She received her Masters in Counseling at St. Edward’s University in 2012 and is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern under the supervision of Kat Elrod, LPC-S. Visit her counseling website & her blog!