Last week I wrote about how to date with confidence. Today I wanted to kick this topic up a notch and discuss a method of dating that has become quite popular the last number of years. Online dating. I know a few things about this topic as I happened to meet my husband online. Through this experience I gained some insight into making your online dating experience more comfortable and safe with hopefully a successful outcome.
It was 2008 and I was living in a large city in the southern US. Although my city was large, my social circle for dating lacked one key ingredient: available men. Even my church was so tiny the men my age were either already dating someone, confirmed bachelors or gay. Not exactly the demographic where you can find a happily ever after. At one point I realized if I didn’t do something drastic, the only way I was gonna meet someone was if the Fed Ex guy came to my door and randomly asked me out ala that scene in Legally Blonde. In that case I needed to seriously up my ‘bend and snap’ game 😉 . It was at this point that I contemplated online dating.
I had actually been toying with the idea of online dating about a year before this, as I had become heartbroken over a long time crush. I’m actually grateful about this now, as it was the push I needed to sign up online. So I booted up my computer, called my best friend and settled in writing my profile.
Which leads me to my first tip when online dating: Have fun writing your profile. Having your best friend help you write this becomes a bonding activity that you won’t soon forget. Plus having another person, that knows you well, can help you write a better, more honest profile of yourself.
After my profile was up I was ready to roll. Then it happened. My computer crashed. Yep. I was offline for about a week, delaying my quest for love. I do see this now as a test to see how serious I was. I could have just said, “welp, that’s a sign that this is a no-go”, but I tend to be a bit more persistent than that. So after I was able to go online again, my quest happily continued.
After corresponding with a few nice guys, in April I connected with one particular gentleman from a small town several hours away. He was cute, funny, and had a heart for Jesus. Ah, perfect. Except he was slightly older than my ideal age range and had tattoos. This leads me to tip #2: Don’t be so constrained about age or hung up that so and so is not necessarily your “type”. Be open to dating outside this boundary.
Of course online dating is different from meeting face to face in a bar or in college, because you aren’t face to face at the beginning of your relationship. Due to this component, it’s necessary to implement some safety tips into your experience. For me, I talked to guys for a week before telling them my real name–we each had a screen name we created beforehand. This was so I could get to know them just a bit before they searched for my social media account. Tip #3: Create safety rules and stick to them-no matter what. All of the guys I talked with were ok with me not divulging my name till I was ready. The difficulties arose when the time came to set up face to face meetings. Some guys wanted to pick me up, but I was adamant that I arrive separately and we meet in a public place. I lost a few guys when they didn’t understand why I insisted on doing things this way. These guys are not frogs, they are toads. While you can’t avoid them online, when they finally reveal their toady bumps, feel no shame in kicking them to the curb. This can be frustrating, but think of it like this: for each guy you let go, you get one guy closer to your happily ever after. Another clear example of a toad comes via my blogger friend, rachelbeingchatty. You should check her out, she’s awesome. She wrote the following the other day on how to spot a toady serial dater; “You know you are with a serial dater when he reveals his heart tattoo with “your name here” in the middle.”
So, how can you figure out if someone you meet online is who they say they are? Our last tip (#4) addresses this. Ask questions. Several times. Yes, ask the same questions over and over again to make sure the answers are the same. When having a conversation about family, ask him again how many siblings he has and where he falls in the lineup. When talking about work, ask again where he works and what he does. If any of these answers are different from what they were before, this is a red flag that needs to be addressed.
Online dating can be fun and fulfilling when you follow a few tips to stay safe, while expanding your social circle. Tomorrow I’ll tell the story of how I met my handsome prince and how we were able to make it work…..long distance.
Remember you are never alone. 🙂