I have a little bit of experience with online dating. After all, it’s how I met my husband.
I created my first profile on an online dating site a few weeks before my 22nd birthday. Meeting men in the “real world” had proved to be a general disappointment. While it used to be that many people found their mates in the same city, if not in a couple blocks radius from them, it just isn’t the case anymore. Online dating is a way to find people with similar interests that you may never have come in contact with in your daily routine.
I finally met my husband through online dating a few weeks before my 29th birthday. So there were a couple of years of dating in between there. I started with eHarmony. And then tried Match, Christian Mingle, Okcupid, even Plenty of Fish. I’ve had some bad experiences, some weird experiences, and some very good ones. I finally found success on eHarmony.
Here are some online dating tips that I learned over those seven years of off and on online dating:
Online Dating Don’ts
Don’t Use Plenty of Fish
Just don’t do it. Sites like Plenty of Fish involve very little time investment, which unfortunately attracts people that are not willing to put in any work into a relationship and are looking for something or someone easy. I have experienced the two most bizarre situations in online dating from guys off Plenty of Fish. After simply messaging with one guy I decided that we weren’t a good fit and told him so. His response was to message me back that I was overweight (which I might add that I wasn’t, not that he would know because he had never actually met me). Another proceeded to insult me during our first conversation and then got so angry when I told him that I wasn’t interested in pursuing anything that he texted me multiple times that I wouldn’t find anyone better then him.
My conclusion is that only lazy or crazy guys are on Plenty of Fish and similar sites. Perhaps there are exceptions to that, but it is best to spend your valuable time with people that are actually looking for the same thing that you are. The online dating site that has led to two long term relationships for me has been eHarmony. Sites that require a significant time commitment to set up a profile and answer questions that will match you with other singles in my experience have led to matches with individuals that are also looking for long-term committed relationships. Having to make a financial commitment also seems to indicate a greater commitment to the process as well. The investment definitely paid off in big ways for me.
Don’t Be Someone You Aren’t
Are you tempted to write your profile based on what you think guys are looking for? Yes, you want to put your best foot forward and feature your best qualities on an online dating profile. But you will never find a relationship that is the best fit for you by presenting a version of yourself that is not completely truthful. Although I was never deceptive in my profile, I did often hesitate to reveal parts of myself that were geeky or quirky.
But the truth is that I do love to read children’s books, craft, and visit historical homes. I prefer museums to sporting events. I wanted a guy that appreciated all of that stuff about me, so an ideal way to weed out anyone who didn’t was to include my interests in my profile. If your goal is to find someone is who going to fall in love with the true, blemished you then don’t hide all the cool things that make you unique. Highlight them intentionally on your profile.
Don’t Get Attached to Someone You’ve Haven’t Met Yet
Online dating can often create a sense of artificial intimacy that you need to be aware of and guard against. This is even more complicated when you live far away from the person you are communicating with. Online messages and even phone calls allow you to see only a very one sided view of the person that you are getting to know. They do not allow you to see their quirks, how they treat people around them, or whether they are even who they say they are.
I have fallen into the trap of falling for someone before I’ve even met them before. I made the mistake of spending two months messaging and talking before actually meeting one guy in particular. By the time that I actually met him in person I was already very attached. This caused me to overlook the lack of physical chemistry and how he eventually started treating me in favor of that initial connection and intimacy that had been created through many hours long phone calls.
My recommendation is to keep the post-meeting communication as limited as possible. I began to have only one phone call to screen guys before going on the first date. It was also important to me that in person dates were possible, so I limited my matches to men that were within an hour or so drive from where I lived. Proper relationship boundaries can begin even before the first official date.
Online Dating Dos
If you are feeling unsure of yourself either when you are writing your online dating profile or communicating with potential dates, it will be apparent. You have a lot to offer to potential dates. Make a list of your accomplishments (find out how here), your amazing qualities, and your unique interests. You don’t necessarily have to include all of these in your profile, but they can serve as a personal reminder of your worth.
Confidence in and of itself is an incredibly attractive quality for the opposite sex. I finally found the man that I married when I learned to love myself and embrace and find value in my quirks. At that point I knew I didn’t need to be in a relationship to complete me or to avoid being alone, even though I wanted to to be in one.
Know What You Want
If you go into online dating (or dating in general) having no clue what you are actually looking for, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It is important to have a list of “Must Haves” and “Can’t Stands.” This is an opportunity to reflect on your dating relationships in the past and learn from both what worked and what didn’t. Focus on character traits, values, and goals, not things such as physical appearance or specific hobbies.
For me it was important to find a man that shared my faith (but also was tolerant and loving), intellectually stimulated me, and loved to learn more about and explore the world around him. I also knew that I needed someone who was loyal, a good communicator, and that I never would date a smoker. So I got specific about what I was looking for on my profile and looked for profiles that revealed some of those characteristics. My husband’s profile caught my attention because his profile picture was taken in Iceland and he was very articulate. He also openly stated the type of woman that he was looking for.
Beyond the fear of encountering a bunch of weirdos, safety is a key concern when online dating. How do you know that someone is who they say they are? It may feel a little stalkerish, but do your research. Before meeting in person check out social media, Linkedin, and do a general google search. If someone is lying about their age, whether they are actually single, or other personal details, you probably will be able to find out online.
When meeting a new date for the first time, always meet in a very public location with your own mode of transportation. Tell a friend or family member the location of the date and who you are meeting. If you’d like the extra comfort of having a friend call to check in this is also an option, and an excuse to bail if you feel uncomfortable.
What are (or were) your personal dos and don’ts when online dating?