Online dating is a minefield. Yes, it can be fun and a great way to meet people but it’s also tricky terrain to travel. Here’s a handy survival guide…
Speak on the phone as soon as you start texting
Controversial I know but online dating can be an effort so bide your time and have a quick ten minute introduction on the phone. This might seem awkward, I mean, who even talks to their mum on the phone anymore let alone a potential date, but it avoids you creating a distorted image in your head before you meet, or worse, catching feelings for someone unsavoury through their witty texting style.
Don’t go overboard on your profile
I think, unless you really know who you are and who you’re looking for (more on that later) this can be shared over the phone or a coffee. Words can be read in different ways and let’s be honest, some people are better writers than others. If you ARE going to write a long winded profile don’t add the qualities you are NOT looking for. This just makes you come across as negative and demanding. NEXT!
Choose photos that represent your personality, not how hot you are
Fair enough if you are a sexy, pouty, kitten princess as you preen yourself at your desk Monday morning, but most of us, sadly, are not. Some guys revel in pyjamas so at least include one natural photo if you are a Netflix-and-Chill-in-a-onesie kinda girl not in-a-corset-no-crotch.
Be open about your vulnerabilities up front
This shakes a fist at every piece of dating advice ever but bear with me. Being yourself fishes out the time wasters and I promise you there are a lot of time wasters. Worst case scenario you aren’t honest about yourself or put your best foot too far forward, end up falling for them then watch your heart break into tiny tinder-shaped pieces when you realise you are incompatible.
Date a few people at once
I don’t care if he asks you to be his girlfriend on date one, you do not know this man, keep your options open. In an ideal world you are dating maybe three guys at once and not sleeping with ANY of them until you’ve figured out you are compatible. This obviously applies more to women and sensitive souls who are much more likely to suffer from severe oxytocin intoxication because if you fall too quickly you are doomed which leads me to my next point…
Figure out your ‘type on paper’ and WHY they are your type on paper… then make a concerted effort to avoid this person
This mainly applies to people who find relationships thorny (um, the majority of people on a dating website FYI). If you find yourself breathless or a bit overwhelmed, chances are they’ve triggered a deep, gnarly wound and you might find yourself a bit reactive to them. Especially if you are a blatant love addict.
Use your wits
This is an online, human shopping centre filled with love avoidants, the emotional disturbed, players and sex addicts. I know this sounds a tad dramatic and of course there are some more balanced candidates out there, but you are guaranteed to come across at least one of the above on your dating adventures. It might help to do some research and just watch for warning signs – the breathlessness, running away with the love fairies, etc. Your best bet is to figure out what your own neuroses are and find someone who is compatible with them… after all, ‘True love is finding someone whose demons play well with yours’ – The Joker.
Don’t get too sexy before you’ve met
If you fancy them like mad before you meet then the match has serious disaster potential, not only for the reason you might not fancy them in person, but because it’s much more likely a past relationship pattern has been triggered. Of course, if you’re just looking for hookups then be honest about that from the start. Thankfully most of the hookup crowd do seem to be open about their intentions.
Go on mini dates first
I cannot stress the importance of this enough, although if you decide to chat on the phone first and not get sexual before you meet then you are unlikely to have any real bad experiences here. The worst thing ever is having to choose between a very long, awkward evening or crawling out the back window and blocking them forever. Both are harrowing, trust me.
Start as mates
Get to know them and don’t let yourself get completely loved up, or worse, in a relationship with a complete stranger with not-so-decent personality traits because you got wooed, hard. These types usually get bored quickly anyway so listen to your instincts and keep it chilled and friendly at least for the first few dates. ‘I feel like I’ve known you forever’ and other such gushing declarations are great big red flags. You have been warned.
Figure out your ideal match
You might think this should be the number one piece of advice but the truth is you won’t know who that is until you’ve been on enough crappy dates. The easiest way to find out is to really work out what makes you happy as a person, what your weaknesses are, etc, then find the person who complements you rather than someone who is just ‘your type on paper’.
Prepare to put in some graft
You’ve probably heard the success stories of the lucky few who met their perfect match the first date they went on, and yes it does happen, but it’s just as likely you won’t find them at first and will have to go on a lot of pretty uncomfortable dates, possibly fall for some shockers, possibly break some hearts… plus meeting someone you don’t know with the underlying possibility that you might end up shagging is quite a stressful procedure anyway and takes it’s toll on your sanity. Just be prepared for the pitfalls.
Here’s a bonus point. Don’t online date if you’re desperate for a husband, a baby, or even just a relationship. Believe it or not, online dating should not be for the desperate or lonely hearted, it should be treated like an interview process. You’re not only going to put added pressure on yourself but you are dabbling in the emotional well-being of another human being. If you really want one of the above outcomes head to the sperm bank or the therapy room, this is the 21st century after all.