If you are beyond your college years, your quest to meet a mate has likely taken you to the Internet. With all the dating sites popping up in recent decades, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of possibilities. If you’re looking for someone of the same religious background… there’s a website for that. If you want someone who shares your love of fitness… there’s a website for that. If you’re interested in a non-traditional relationship… there’s a website for that, too!
The good news is that you’ll find an endless supply of prospects in cyberspace… but how do you find your perfect “needle” in that boundless “haystack”? And how long will that take and how many prospects will you have to meet to find “the one”? If only we knew that answer! While there are never any guaranties, there are ways to make your online dating experiences more fun, more efficient, and even more importantly, safer. After many years of experience both personally and professionally through my clients, I’ve compiled my top dos and don’ts for your venture into cyberspace.
First and foremost, DO put up an honest profile and don’t exaggerate your skills, interests, hobbies, and background in the hopes of coming across more interesting… you will be found out eventually! And DO include recent pictures. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to meet someone new and having them look nothing like their former selves. Honestly, am I not going to notice that the handsome man with the thick head of hair suddenly has the sun beaming off his shiny, bald head?
DON’T naively assume that everything you read is true. Years ago I had a man tell me on our first date that he was planning on trying out for the pro golfers tour the following year, so being an avid golfer myself, I was excited to play with someone of his alleged golfing prowess. Well, on our second date, we rendezvoused at the golf course and he played like a mediocre amateur at best, throwing around expletives and blaming the course and conditions for his poor play.
DO learn to read between the lines of these online profiles. When you know the keywords to watch out for, you’ll sift through what’s being slung a whole lot faster. And if he sounds too good to be true, he likely is, more often than not.
He says he’s looking for someone “real”. Translation: he may be bitter, damaged, and not over his last relationship.
If she provides a laundry list of “negative” relationship traits she’s trying to avoid rather than “positive” ones she’s seeking, beware of a glass-is-half-empty mentality.
Ladies, watch out for clichés such as when a guy emphasizes he’s looking for a woman who enjoys “intimacy”, a code word for sex. Peppering sexual innuendos throughout a profile says desperate and creepy to me.
When a woman says she’s “up for anything”, this often signifies that she has no hobbies, interests, and/or passions of her own… boring!
DON’T get sucked in by overused lines like, “Looking to spoil the woman of my dreams with walks on the beach and dinners by the fire.” Really? When life gets in the way, how often are we able to actually make this happen? Have they been studying up in the romance novel section of the bookstore? What other “lines” are they likely to deliver and to what potential gains?
DO be on the lookout for consistencies in their facts and stories. I’ve had men lie about all sorts of things including: their height (assume they’re 2” shorter than they indicated); their income; the number of ex-wives and children they’ve had; their age (yes, men lie about age, too!); their education; how many houses they own… you get the point.
DON’T give out any personal information that could lead anyone to your home. I always counsel my clients, both men and women, that they should always put their own safety first. Give out your mobile phone rather than your home phone number which may be listed in the phone book. I never give out my last name until I’ve met someone more than once and feel comfortable with him. I have a different email address that does not include my last name that I used exclusively for my online dating activities. While most people on these dating sites are just as normal as you are, it’s not worth taking chances.
If there’s real potential, DO move your interactions forward from email to mobile phone. I established a rule that I wouldn’t take the time to meet someone in person until I’d at least had a phone conversation with him. Some people are great writers, but couldn’t hold an interesting conversation if their lives depended on it. Over the phone, you will have a much better opportunity to determine if there’s a good fit and your personalities mesh well. The key motivator for implementing my “must have” phone chat prior to meeting was a guy who wrote beautifully. I couldn’t wait to meet him in person. During our time together at the wine bar, he never asked a single question about me and he didn’t offer anything about himself, unless he was answering one of my questions. Tried as I did, it was real work to keep the conversation going. These wasted hours of my life spent primping, driving, and wishing he would hurry up and finish his appetizer and glass of wine so I could exit politely could have been spent elsewhere had I simply requested a phone chat prior to meeting in person. Lesson learned.
DON’T rush into a “relationship” with someone you just met. It takes time to get to know someone and begin developing a sense of trust. Meet in a public place for the first few dates. You’ll know when the time is right to share your address and have him pick you up at home.
DO be honest about what you’re looking for in a relationship… if you’re looking for a relationship at all. There are plenty of men and women out there looking for easy sex and/or free dinners and know just what to say to get what they want. If your goal is to marry and have children, for example, it’s best to let your desires be known sooner rather than later to avoid wasted time and potentially hurt feelings.
DON’T be naïve to the reality of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and birth control. Do your research, get tested regularly, and insist that your new partner gets tested BEFORE playing Russian roulette with your health. No doubt this is an awkward topic of conversation, but it’s certainly a better option than blindly jumping into the sack and contracting something that will stay with you for life. In the end, your partner will respect you and appreciate that you did.
With all this in the back of your mind… DO enjoy meeting new people and having fun with the process and prospects!
How about you? What dating Dos and Don’ts have you developed to ensure fun and safety when meeting new potential partners in cyberspace? I would love to hear all about what’s working and what’s not, so please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.