Today many people are using online platforms as a way to meet and connect with potential partners. For some their schedule or lifestyle does not afford the opportunity to meet people via the traditional route or for others they dislike the 'meat market' feel of the clubs, the pretentiousness of 'networking' events or the 'clique' like feel of other social events. In my practice I encounter women who complain that although they are quite social and do not have any qualms going out solo, men do not approach them, although these men may admire them from across the room. Perhaps locale plays a role in the 'dance' single men and women unknowingly engage. Therefore, online dating is a viable platform to broaden your dating pool to individuals who may not organically cross your path during your day to day life.
Although the initial introductions occur online, it is important to accurately represent yourself in the same manner you would in person.
Your pictures, heading, and bio provide unique opportunities to show your personality and identify the various qualities and characteristics you are looking for in a potential date. If you are not looking for a sexual hookup, then do not include intimate or revealing pictures in your profile or elude to anything sexual in your bio. In the same manner that you would not arrive at a local bar, lounge or event in your swimwear, do not arrive in one in your online profile.
Give a little to be intriguing but do not give everything.
One of the most interesting components about going on an initial date is the anticipation and intrigue of meeting someone new. As strangers who hopefully share common interests there should be a plethora of topics to chat about. Everyone has many layers (some more than others) and dating allows both parties to pull back a layer which will happen organically if there is a mutual interest (chemistry). You do not have to reveal your entire life story on your profile for the world to read (remember men who you have no interest in will have access to your profile as well). Instead, share enough to show a bit of your personality, interest, sense of humor and know that those who are interested will contact you to learn more.
Schedule a pre-meet up to determine if a date is necessary.
A pre-meet up is an opportunity for both parties to determine if their common 'online' interests translates in person. It is quite possible to be compatible on 'paper' but when you meet in person it is quite awkward for various reasons. I suggest to my clients to have a pre-date meet up first in a casual location perhaps a coffee shop or the park.
Plan the pre-meet up during the day on a weekend (2pm is a great time). This removes the pressure and allows for a casual introduction.
If the chemistry is there coffee will organically turn into both parties making on the spot plans and the pre-meet up transforms into a proper date. It is best and makes for an amazing date when both parties want to be there and are truly enjoying each other's company. Conversely, if during the pre-meet up one or both parties are not 'feeling' it they can respectfully decide to go their separate ways without expending a great deal of time, energy or resources. This allows both parties to avoid feeling 'trapped' which would result if the initial date was a 5 course meal followed by the opera *sigh*.
To respond or not respond is the question.
Inevitably you are going to be contacted by men who do not meet the criteria you took time to write in your profile. Men who are out of your age range, smoking preference, religion, height, body type, etc. or any other characteristic you explicitly identified as being a 'must have' or 'deal breaker.' Some of these men (perhaps the majority *sigh*) did not read your profile and instead contacted you based on your picture.
It is important to know what you desire in a potential date before creating your profile.
It is okay to not be interested in someone who contacts you and has an interest in you. It is okay to not want to go out with them simply because you are not attracted to him physically and/or because there was not anything in his profile of interest. You do not have to respond to every wink, poke or message. You do not have to apologize or justify your reasons to him or anyone. Do not go out with anyone who you are not interested in because it is a waste of time for both parties. There may be some men who have an emotional response when you do not respond to their contact and as a result they may send a long diatribe of an email or in some cases become disrespectful. This is his ego and his issue. Do not engage him. Do not take it personal (you are not the first). Do not make it your personal mission to 'set him straight.' Instead, simply block him from contacting you.
If you decide to have a pre-meet up or a date, here are 3 tips to incorporate into your date:
1. A date is not an interview or an interrogation. Do not ask traditional questions (i.e. job, career, salary, etc.) instead ask creative questions which will provide more insight into the individual. For example:
- When was the last time you had a good laugh? The type of laugh that had you bent over, holding your stomach with tears streaming from your eyes and it was difficult to breathe?
- What is the longest friendship you have had? Who is it with? How did you all meet? What are 3 characteristics you admire about this person?
- Where is the most exciting place you have been and why?
- What is the most adventurous activity you have done?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- If currency was comprised of something you had an abundance of, what would be your currency?
- If you could change one thing about you, what would it be and why?
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be? What would your costume look like? What would your name be?
2. A date is NOT synonymous with boyfriend or husband. He is not your boyfriend or your future husband (although he could become one or both). But tonight, this date is an opportunity to get to know one another and determine if there is enough interest to see each other again. Relax. Be present. Stop sizing him up. Don't compare him to your Ex (he is no longer in the picture for a reason). Instead, show up, be kind, funny, witty and your authentic self.
3. No sex talk or innuendos. There are a plethora of topics to strangers can chat about because you do not know each other. Sex should only be brought up during initial dates if sex is what you both desire. However, please know that for many men , if sex is discussed initially a switch is flipped and they move women into the 'sex/hook up' category and it is damn near impossible for him to see this woman as anything other that this after.
4. Bonus Tip - Properly close the space. Every date is not going to be amazing and there are going to be some people who you have no interest in seeing or speaking to again (and that is okay). Oftentimes you will know this before the date ends. Instead of avoiding their future calls and declining their future dates, formally and respectfully close the space. It may be uncomfortable the first time you do this (rejection no matter how gentle does not feel good to the recipient) but it is the proper thing to do. Also, this lets the other person know you are no longer an option and to remove you from their 'call list.' Here is one I recommend to my clients:
"It was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for the date. However, I must be honest, I did not feel a connection. I do not want to waste your time nor mine. I think it is best we go our separate ways."
Now if you two had a pre-meet up this closing will not sting as much *smile*. Dating can be fun if you do not put too much pressure on yourself or the other person. Remember a date is not a commitment. It is a great way to meet someone new and either confirm or learn what does and does not work for you. There are many people who met their spouses online. Others developed great friendships and others were well let's say 'interesting.' But they are all an experience. Happy Dating! - Misha N. Granado, MPH, MS