Perfect Partner? The Rules of Online Dating

Meeting people is hard.  Meeting exciting, intelligent, people who look like they should be Prada models is the domain of movies and soap operas–not to mention the stuff of dreams.  First, where would you even go to meet the next Angelina Jolie or James Franco with a heart of gold?  Second, should you actually see a Heath Ledger look-a-like reading a tattered copy of Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” by the window of your local coffee shop your nervousness over what to say or how to approach him might condemn you to flubbing any cool line that you could think up.  The reality of the dating game is that it is not for the weak or faint of heart.  The anxiety of meeting someone new, the excitement that this could be that special someone, the worry and fear that it isn’t…this can create a downward spiral of worrying.  You worry that you might be looking too desperate, so you turn it down a notch and then, horror of horrors, you worry again that you might come off as being too disinterested.  It’s a peril-laden swamp, a tightrope, a dangling participle in the path to happiness this dating thing.

Fortunately, we live in the 21st Century, the century of iPads, Twitter, Facebook and of course, Online Dating.

Where just ten short years ago Online Dating was seen as the preserve of losers, creeps, stalkers and other kinds of people who have a steady supply of suspiciously stained trench coats tucked away in their closets, these days Online Dating is seen as just another viable option in the meeting, greeting, ‘getting-to-know-you’ game. In fact, now more than ever all of us know at least one married couple as a result of online dating, not to mention the countless other acquaintances that are on a dating service themselves still searching.

Online dating has as many benefits as it ever has had faults. For one thing, depending on how many sites you’ve joined and how active a​nd enthusiastic you are about it, going the online route definitely opens you up to far more options in meeting people than physically meeting people in the real world might. No matter how big your network of friends and acquaintances is, the online community will probably be bigger, especially given the growth in popularity of the online social scene.

Also, while it might be a new thing for you to chat and joke with people on the internet, you’ll soon find that it can be a great deal easier to talk to someone online than it is in real life. Replying to a piece of text in front of you is a less personal affair than looking them dead in the eye. If you don’t want to reply to someone, you’re under no obligation to. The Internet comes with a very different set of social rules than the real world, and what might be seen as being a bit rude and stand off-ish in a real life social situation would be easily forgotten in the online world.

Lastly, it is easier to determine who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or just bicurious online because they put it in their profile! This takes the guesswork out of gaydar.  You don’t have to check out someone’s shoes, tattoos, books, or music before approaching them.  They tell you either by the choice of dating site or by their profile: I’m gay.  This cuts through a lot of red tape and gives you a sense of security in approaching him or her.​

Dos and Don’ts for Meeting that Perfect Partner

  • DO ask advice of friends who have experience with Online Dating. If you know someone who’s successfully met a partner Online, ask them about their experience. Which sites they used, how long it took, how did they play it? Better yet, if you know someone who has been burnt or had a bad experience from dating Online, ask them if they wouldn’t mind telling you about it. It’s a sensible thing to go in knowing both sides of the story; what to hope for and what to be wary of.
  • ​DO keep your options open. It’s the internet and just because you’ve hit it off with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re beholden to them. Mix it up. Chat with however many people you like. Limiting your options is the complete opposite of the benefit that Online Dating has in store for you.
  • DO try another site if the one you’re on at the moment isn’t working out for you. Just as with any other product, if it isn’t working, move onto another one and see how that works out. There are tons of Online Dating sites out there so you won’t have to look too hard.
  • DON’T post a rubbish or old picture of yourself. This is that potential other’s first opportunity to get a look at you. Give them a decent picture to look at and not that one with you wearing the purple and green cardigan that your mom gave you for Christmas last year.  That said, don’t post some perfectly lit, professionally shot picture of yourself posing like some latter day Adonis, as this could lead to a letdown at that first meet and greet.
  • By that same token, DO give a decent write up for yourself on your profile. Much like the picture you’ve posted, it should give potential applicants a decent idea of who they’re looking at. And a little self-deprecation won’t hurt, either. You want to construct your profile with the same sort of easy style that you would if you were having a conversation while out with someone.  They should get a good sense of who you are as a person.
  • DON’T give out personal details online. It’s an obvious point to make, but that being said, there can be a few predators out there, and they are adept at being quite convincing. Bear in mind that even if they’re friendly and sharing supposedly personal details with you, if you haven’t met the person in real life, you can’t know a thing about them, so be careful.
  • DO make that first date just the two of you. Not with your friends or family. You’re meeting your online friend for the first time. You’ve got enough to worry about without having to worry about what your friends are thinking.

When it comes to that first date, DO make it something brief. A cup of coffee for instance. You just need to know if the spark is there and if you want to try a little more. Don’t commit yourself to a three course meal where you’ll have to spend an over two hours with someone and not have any chemistry. But even if the chemistry is there, limit the first two dates to 90 mins. maximum; better to leave them wanting more.

DO meet in Public. You don’t know this person so make sure you’re somewhere ​safe, and that you have told someone where you are going as well as when to be expecting your return.

DON’T take rejection personally. This Online Dating thing can be a gamble and not only for you. If the other person isn’t responding like you’d hoped, that’s okay. Forget about it and spin the wheel again.

Online dating is in many respects, much like dating in real life. You meet people and you either hit it off or you don’t. And just as there is the risk that you’ll meet an incompatible person at a bar or a club, you’re just as likely to meet a couple of them online. It always pays to keep your feelers out, in real life or online. However, who ​knows, maybe you’ll meet that other half who completes. As I said, it’s a gamble. You win some, you lose some. Now go forth and meet people.