I come from an old-fashioned family, so online dating was something I myself vowed to never do. I had heard the horror stories and scoffed at the thought of going through the emotional mutilation of constantly putting myself out there—vulnerable and exposed. However, after my family realized that my daily routine left no space for meeting new people, they nagged me to give it a try. And so, after much resistance…I did.
Dating is completely different now than it was for the generations before us. Never have there been so many opportunities to meet a potential partner (speed dating, meetups, happy hours, concerts, etc.) as there are now. Yet, we find ourselves busier than ever with work, school, hobbies, and family. It feels like there’s no time to intentionally go out and meet people, which is why so many of us rely on the internet to do the dirty work for us.
Before you set on your quest of online dating, let me share what I did and learned during my 6-month journey before I met my current boyfriend.
The Game Plan
As the objective and paranoid woman that I am, I realized I needed to create a game plan consisting of two things, which are often overlooked.
1) A Great Escape Plan: If things went wrong, I needed a way out. It needed to be fast, but without hurting my date’s feelings.
2) A list of deal breakers: This was my screening process. I didn’t want to waste my time and I most certainly wanted to steer away from the crazies. FYI…I had no encounters with a sociopath, nor close calls (keep in mind that I’m slightly paranoid.)
The Deal Breakers…
This is the list that will help you make those tough calls when you are second guessing whether, or not to go on a second or third date. Think about what is important to you. What are your pet peeves? What do you value in your friendships with other people? Remember, if you’re planning to invest your time and energy in someone, you need to be able to handle being with them at all times–on your good days and on your bad days. Finding someone is going to take time and since your time is precious, you should be smart about who you spend it with.
The First Date…
Now let’s say you’ve been in contact with someone who has potential. You might be gutsy and ask that person out, or you could be me and be a sitting goose. Regardless of how you go about it, things are about to get real. It’s no longer interacting with a screen. You’re meeting this person in flesh and blood–3D. First dates terrified me out of my wits. What would I wear? Where would we go? How should I act? How do I know he’s not crazy?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your first date:
1) Choose a few outfits ahead of time that you feel confident in. Outfits you know will not contort on you last second or will require you to continuously readjust. You already have enough on your plate with meeting this person. Don’t make things more difficult. You can always reuse the same outfit on other first dates.
2) Choose a low-key area for your first date. Dinner might sound tempting, but that requires you to invest a lot of time to dress up for a date you’re not sure you want to see again. My top choice was a coffee shop. You can dress in a cute, casual outfit. If things don’t go as planned, it’s less abrupt to leave. You can’t really leave mid-dinner, but there’s no such thing as mid-coffee. If things go well, then you can do a dinner and dress to impress. Also, considering men usually pay, you don’t ever have to feel bad about the bill if your coffee date is your last date.
3) Have a friend that you have to be accountable to. Let them know where you’re going and what you’re wearing. Have a check in time with them, so they know you’re still alive and well. Yes, this is my paranoia speaking, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4) Don’t let your insecurities paralyze you. Neither you nor your date are perfect. If he’s worth your time, he will stick around. Otherwise, good riddance. Time is ticking and no one has time to be fooling around.
I know some of these things may seem easier said than done—especially if you’ve never tried online dating before. That’s why I got Susan to put all of my tips to the test. Look out for next week’s post to find out if she survived her online dating experience!