You’ve undoubtedly seen the advertisements on television claiming that one website or another can help you find your true love. Did you ever wonder if it is true? Unless you are one of the lucky few, in a caring and happy relationship, you probably have. Still, if you are like many people, the thought of internet dating seems a bit impersonal, not to mention intimidating and potentially dangerous.
How can meeting a total stranger lead to anything more than painfully awkward silence followed by some crazed stalker following you home and going through your garbage in search of mementos? The internet has come a long way since its creation and there are actually decent, normal people looking for connections. Not everyone online is a 40 year old guy, sitting in his underwear trying to lure children into his mother’s basement.
I know what I am talking about. I am not just randomly throwing out untested advice here. I had memberships with a few internet dating sites before meeting my husband. In fact, that is how I met my husband. A lot of people are astonished when I tell them that, but I can assure you I did meet him online. Way back in 2006, he lived in Orlando, an area that I had never visited, and I lived in Panama City, a lovely little beach town that he had no idea existed. I was busy working, attending college and living my life and he was equally busy working and living his own life. Had it not been for the magic of online dating, we would have never met.
Because of this experience, and the not-so-happily ever after ones the preceded it, I feel comfortable sharing my knowledge with others. So, here it is; my list of tips and hints for safe, pleasant internet dating. Some of these may apply to traditional dating, as well.
1. Photos- Why? Because the person on the other end is probably just as nervous and skeptical as you are. The person who is looking at your profile wants to see if you look like someone he/she is interested in getting to know. Without a picture of your smiling face, you may never meet your perfect match. Conversely, being the inquisitive person that I am, I have a tendency to believe that someone is hiding something if they have no photo. Therefore, my personal rule was to never answer a sender without a photo. Secret admirers are cute when you’re in 4th grade and get a note from a classmate, but when you are a little older and trying to avoid scams, con artists, polygamists, and murders, secrets are scary.
2. Be Honest- Why? Because you expect it from the other person and because it helps to weed out people who are not compatible with you. We all know the stereotypes of internet dating, men who lie about their finances and women who lie about their looks. There is little that can hide the shock of expecting Channing Tatum and meeting Steve Buscemi.
Do you really want to be the punchline of someone’s joke at the water cooler Monday morning? Be confident; tell your potential mate that you are living frugal to pay off your student loans or that you aren’t built like a super model. Save yourself an uncomfortable conversation weeks or months into a relationship that is destined to fail. Embrace your flaws, everybody has them. You will win points with those who are not concerned about such superficial details and get rid of those who are.
3. Do Your Research- Why? Do I really need to elaborate? Alright, I suppose I owe you some sort of explanation. It isn’t the 1950s. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world where it’s okay to leave your doors unlocked or take a quiet walk by yourself at night. People are robbed and murdered in broad daylight, while others go about their business. I’m not trying to scare anyone, I merely saying that you can’t take people at their word anymore. For that reason, before I would agree to meet my husband for the first time, I asked him to fax me a copy of his driver’s license so I could perform a background check. Did he think I was a little nuts? Sure. Did I care? No.
You don’t have to take it to the extreme I did, but at the very least search online for any information he or she may have neglected to mention. Although there are no guarantees, a simple internet search can tell you a lot about a person these days. I mean seriously, don’t you guys watch CatFish?
4. Be Realistic- Why? Because there is a pretty good chance you are not going to fall hopelessly in love with the first date you meet. Not only is that unrealistic, it is a bit frightening. I really hope that is not your objective, because you are in for a huge wake up call. Although the ultimate goal for most people who date online is to find a true and lasting relationship, they don’t want to be smothered by a clingy, needy crazy person. And whether you are that psycho or not, if you expect too much too soon, that is the vibe you will send.
5. Be Patient- Why? This one follows the same logic as the previous tip. Because whether you are dating the traditional way or online, quality relationships do not happen over night. While online dating removes the obstacle of how to meet people, there is no short cut to the meaningful connection that is necessary to build a strong relationship. Even if there was, do you really want to skip the best part of dating; getting to know one another and finding out if you are truly compatible? I don’t care how thorough their survey claims to be or how many testimonials they have from satisfied customers.
The bottom line is that no website, matchmaker, or other individual can force true love. So, just take a breath and enjoy things as they happen. When you just have fun and stop worrying about “where this relationship is going,” you might be surprised how things naturally fall into place.