Today most dating is done via Internet. And with the majority of modern day society communication via facebook, text messages, emails, and tweeter is it really that supristing that most dating is done via the web. Now I'm not a dating online expert...obviously otherwise I would be happily attached. There are many great pros of online dating but lets be honest there are also some definite draw backs. For one it sort of concerns me that these dating websites promise you so much based on some ...although intense...limited survey and database. I doubt the psychologist assigned to back the website actually do the matching. But like many other single people I am also curiusly drawn to these sites.
I have a strong love/hate relationship with these websites. Something that has become borderline abusive but I keep going back for more. They always seem to know the best times and tactics to draw me back in. I'll be relaxing on a dateless night when an online dating comical almost always interrupts my very carefully selected nonromatic tv show. The commercial is usually of a couple who of course have found the one using (in cert website name). I love how they not only throw in the 'oh they weren't there the first couple matches but eventually I found her. Read between the lines you have to keep looking and paying in order to find your match. Depending on my level of loneliness...er...eagerness I find myself nodding along and eventually reaching for my credit card. And just in case you were in the kitchen when it started or had successfully stayed strong through the first half they throw in at the end 'My dates with (in cert name) were the best I every had.' Oh... and now they got you. And because you are sitting at home alone or its near the holidays you find yourself logging back it to the game. When I'm in my more calm, non 'I'm going to die alone crisis modes.' I can take a step back and realize that its pretty suspect that the commercials usual features the same couples over and over again. I mean if they service so many people and had so many successful matches couldn't they use other people....hmm.
Sigh..I know. I've been there too many times. In fact honestly as I sit here typing I feel the pull. Why not give it one more chance. And why not? I can say that through these sites I have gotten 'out there.' I've even made some friends in the process. However I have also had some dates that I no longer talk about and that cause me to lie awake in a cold sweat having to tell myself its all over, you never have to hear him tell that story again....
But isn't that a part of any dating experience? Some winners, some surprises, some disappointments, a couple of bumps in the road but one comes out stronger. So why not use a helpful dating site that helps if nothing else point you in the direction of other singles. Now I know for myself it isn't just the stupid commercials that get me...its the stories from real people. We all know a person who knows someone who knows someone who found their husband. So this keeps me going back for more. Whether single or attached it seems like everyone has some opinion on the dating sites. Some of my friends won't touch it stating 'Why can't people just talk to one another like they use to?' And why can't we? Maybe its the same reason that people text rather than call. Because they don't have to. Internet dating opens up more doors and connects more people to one another than one hot night club ever could. Like any dating method these days it doesn't hurt to try. The most important thing is to go in with a game plan.
Now like I said earlier, I"m certainly not an expert. But I do have some experience and the point of this posting is to share my 'game plan' with you. Things I have learned that I feel have kept me sane and safe in the world of online dating.
Most dating sites will ask you to fill out a survey of some kind that will help them direct you to your most compatiable matches. I have a pretty golden rule when it comes to these..you can't trust the results on those surveys. Look...I'll admit it right here and now ..I'm not always completely honest. I down play my quirks and make myself look slightly better. And if anyone tells you they don't than they are doing it even more. So don't walk run from them. When I was thirteen I use to love to fill out those corny surveys in seventeen magazine. At the time my thirteen mind struggle between answering honestly and answering in a way to get the results I wanted. I mean who didn't want to get a score that told them they were a great friend. Fast forward seventeen years later and as hard as it is to admit I find myself doing a similar survey. Except now instead of trusting the survey to tell me what kind of friend I am, I'm trusting it to find my right match. There's been times when asked if on a scale from one to ten where my temper fell I probably rated myself a four when I know I was probably a five...not a big deal...but some people out there lie A LOT. And believe me after a meeting with one or two of these people you find that out pretty quick. The guy that listed that his friends would describe him as 'funny' made me laugh but it wasn't on purpose. Ok..to be fair his friends may really describe his as funny but who knows what his friends are like. Never trust or take these survey results as sure ways of finding your match. Also those surveys are all on perspective. The way you precieve the quesitons doesn't mean your match matched your perspective. Use them as a guide not a rule. I'm not really sure how the survey is designed but I'm guessing they don't screen for liars, narcissistic and lunatics. And if they do let me assure you have met some smart ones that have found loop holes.
The next important area is the photos. I know what you are thinking 'looks aren't everything and you tend to fall for someone after you have gotten to know them.' Blah, Blah ..ok maybe you're right. Different strokes for different fokes. However you have to feel some attraction on some level. Pay close attention to the photos but the same rule for the survey can be applied to the photos. Use them as a guide not a rule. Now if you have ever been fortunate to be on these sites you know when you post your photo you take time in picking your photo. This will be the first impression your matches get of you. A person selects their profile photos because they feel this is THE BEST REPRESENTATION OF WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE...go think about that for a little bit. In particular think about that photo the person posted of themselves with their shirt off, or with that beer bottle, or the sweaty club photo. Yeah its funny or maybe even cute but really think about what I said before. They picked it because that was the first impression they wanted you to have and its the BEST REPRESENTATION OF THEMSELVES. Look if you want to date a meat head than I encourage you to wink back at Mr. No Shirt. I know for my thirty year old self I'm not paying a monthly fee to get set up with Mr. No Shirt. I can find him in the club for free. I don't know what your personal turn ons or preferences are but mine is definitely not a man in his thirties with his shirt off taking a photo of his own reflection in the bathroom mirror. Its a fair tie between what is the bigger turn off. The fact that he seems to think this shot is a great first impression or that he doesn't understand or care that his face was blocked from the flash reflecting off the mirror.The most important photo is the one they post as their main one. Look at it closely friends because this is as good as it gets and that photo tells you a lot.
Now the photo section needs a couple rules. Its important to realize that even if its a good photo it might not be recent. If I my best photo I would go with a photo from 2005. But a lot has changed both good and bad since I was 25. Now I don't know how you feel reader but I feel its dishonest to yourself and your matches to post a photo that is more than one to two years old. But not everyone has gotten that memo. If its not the most up to date..you might have to add some years and weight to these photos. ..still interested? Also make sure to pay close attention to the age posted. Most of the time this is a good gage to see how honest the person is being. Now sometimes someone is a certain age and they look younger than they are. But when someone says he is in his late thirties and he has posted a photo that is clearly from his college days its probably safe to assume its an outdated photo. And even if it is a recent photo do you really want to date Mr. I never left my college days. Its always better to error on the side of caution.
And speaking of caution. When surfing through photos and profiles its always important to be looking out for Mr. Shady. I tend to avoid any profile where a person has no photo, far away photos or darken photos..I shouldn't need to go into great details on this one but I will add the question why don't they want you to see them? There could be several answers to this question but take my advice there are some doors that are better left shut and bolted.
So if after keeping these things in mind you find someone you want to start communicating with great but remember to always stay safe. Never ever give your address to someone. I always meet the person somewhere rather than tell the person to pick me up. I know some people say they would rather be old fashion and have them pick them up but you have to remember this is a different world. When people use to do that they met through other people or knew the person before hand. I don't care how great of a phone conversation you have had or first date you had you need to go on a couple dates before you share where you live. Always meet in a public place and always always have an escape plan. I tend to use the following.
'Well I have to get up early tomorrow for work.'
'I've had a really long week and need to get home.'
'My (insert name of relative) will freak out if I don't call before 10 to let them know I got home safe from the date.'
And if all else fails exit out the bathroom window. I've never tried this one before but that doesn't mean I would never or should have considered it. Always have a game plan....
I know for myself what keeps me staying strong is to try to be as open and positive as possible. Ok so the date might have sucked and you had to sit through an uncomfortable couple hours but you learned something. Sometimes it just helps to 'get out there' so you can say 'well I haven't given up hope yet.' So to my single friends I'm saying to you no matter how you date just 'don't give up hope yet.'