Online dating has saturated our generation’s dating culture.
It’s brought countless people together, but has also been a point of deep frustration for others (“Why hasn’t he messaged me back?” “Why did we talk for a week and never meet up?” “Why did he swipe right if he wasn’t really interested?!” You feel me?).
I truly believe that online dating can be a great avenue for people looking for a relationship, but I also think that as with any type of dating, it’s important for us to be prepared, realistic, and do our best to lessen frustration and disappointment whenever we can. After all, dating is hard enough. We certainly don’t need to make it harder by having unrealistic expectations, or even continuing to do something we don’t feel is fruitful or best for us.
So after many years of online dating, and making every online dating mistake in the book, there are five things that I would now recommend everyone know and consider before they try it:
1. Know why (the REAL why) you’re doing it
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up for online dating apps on a lonely night. A night that I was sitting at home alone, frustrated that I had nowhere to go. I did it because I was looking for a relationship, but not just because I wanted one. I did it because I was desperate for one.
It’s so easy to look at online dating as a fix-all or as a band-aid when we are struggling in our singleness, but when that’s the reason that we do it, I can almost guarantee that disappointment and frustration are soon to follow. It may cover our hurt for a moment, but that relief will quickly fade.
So ask yourself, “What is my real why?” Am I trying to fix a problem that a guy can’t actually solve, or am I really ready for a relationship?
2. Just like dating in the real world, online dating is a process
I began online dating because I thought it was a quicker and easier solution to finding a real relationship, but the reality that I found was that while I had more options, much of the experience online was similar to that of the real world. I found that even in online dating, sometimes your interest level in someone else won’t match theirs, people will be at different places in their lives from you, and first dates won’t always lead to second dates.
So while online dating opens up options that you might not otherwise have had, it’s important to remember that it is still dating, and just like in the real world of dating, it takes time, and it will be a process. Your desired relationship will likely not materialize at the first snap of your finger, or your first click of a swipe.
3. Know your boundaries from the start, and the reputation of the platform you’re using
There are so many online dating platforms out there, from paid sites like eHarmony and Match, to apps like Bumble, Tinder and Hinge, just to name a few.
All sites have a reputation. Some have reputations as hookup apps (*cough* Tinder), while others typically have more relationship focused reputations. It’s important to know the reputation of the site that you’re using, and even talk to someone who has used it in the past before you try it.
Once you’ve chosen an app or website, it’s important to know your boundaries before you start. If you’re looking for a real relationship, don’t continue to entertain a conversation with someone who only seems interested in a hook up, and if you’re not interested in first dates taking up much of your time, limit the dates to quick activities like coffee.
Knowing the site that you’re using and establishing your boundaries up front can help prevent and protect you from added frustration, and unnecessary disappointment.
4. If you start online dating and need a break, take one.
There were many times in my online dating life when I found myself so frustrated with the process, and the lack of results, but I was afraid to stop for fear that I would miss an opportunity.
But when every date you go on ends with you crying on the way home if it doesn’t work out, or when a guy doesn’t “like” or “swipe” you back you take it so personally or seriously that you want to throw your phone against the wall, it might be time to take a break.
To continue in the mindset that you’re in isn’t setting you up for success, it’s putting you through a continual cycle of negative emotions that isn’t productive, or even healthy.
You will be setting yourself up to have better success in the future by taking a break for now, and I can promise, you won’t be missing your chance at love by doing so.
5. It’s ok not to online date if you decide it ultimately isn’t right for you
Though the world is saturated in online dating, it is not the only way that people meet. If you decide the online dating process isn’t for you, all hope is not lost. There are other dating avenues to take, and you shouldn’t feel pressured or obligated to continue doing something that you don’t feel is right or fruitful for you.
Love stories come about in all kinds of ways, and online dating is only one.
Give yourself permission to really consider if you feel that it’s a good option for you, and once you start? Give yourself permission to reconsider whenever you need.
Your dating life is a journey. Don’t forget that you’re an active participant in deciding where and how it goes.
You may also enjoy: