If you’re ready for a lifetime partner – and we mean seriously ready – we’ll ask you to consider searching the old-fashioned way. Take a step back and ask yourself if staying away from your online account is worth the effort and patience. After all, finding a date is much more meaningful if we can put our best foot forward and make our personality shine. A warm smile instead of an impersonal “hi” email goes a longer way.
Don’t get us wrong. Finding potential matches online works for many people. First, it is efficient. What can be a better experience than being on your computer and shooting numerous “birds” with one stone? Second, it’s convenient. No need to get dressed, put on make-up, and rehearse a few lines before the actual meeting takes place. Third, it’s as anonymous as you want it to be. There is certainly no need to divulge any personal information to strangers. We can hide behind a user name and a password, and oh yes, we can also “re-create” ourselves. Who has to know that you work in a community co-op (read: low salary) when you can always paint yourself as an investment banker in a wealth management firm?
We also know that online dating works for certain people because of those beautiful stories we often hear about – budding romances that began as casual email exchanges or “winks”. People who have been successful in finding love online have reason to be proud because more and more have found the close-to-perfect match.
In one online dating site, it was reported that 19% of brides found their husbands online. It also reported that those who met online ended up tying the knot sooner than those who met offline. If we were to rely on these stats, then yes, online dating works.
In today’s unsafe environment where complaints of stalking, harrassment, and unsolicited emails and tweets are common currency, it is no wonder that finding love online now seems to be the preferred method. By hiding behind a user name, the risks of being discovered – until you’re ready to reveal your true identity or go out on a real date – is reduced. Another advantage of online dating sites is that casting a wider net does yield a bigger “catch” of singles. With a bigger catch, you’re able to weed out profiles that don’t meet your criteria. There’s also the amusement factor. You can spend an entire Sunday afternoon reading bylines posted by other seekers, giving you something to laugh about or mull over in your quest for love.
Making a Case for Back-to-Basics
Yet there’s also a growing number of people who have failed miserably at online dating. They ask, “what am I doing wrong?”
For seekers who have not had any success in online dating, we’d like to make this pitch: why not do it the way our parents and grandparents have done? While it’s true that behavioral changes have dominated our lives in the last 20 years – including our search for a soulmate – maybe we should re-think tradition.
What good comes out of dating the old-fashioned way?
One, we are motivated to polish our conversational skills. By being in “someone’s face”, we are compelled to be the genuine person that we want others to see. We’re more spontaneous and more engaging, especially if we like the person.
Two, there’s nothing wrong with smiling at a fellow shopper in the supermarket’s organic section and asking about the benefits of kale. Or asking a colleague at work if you can do the daily coffee run with him. Or proposing a couple of volunteer hours at the city food bank.
For thousands of years people have found love without forking over a credit card, filling out an online profile, and searching the millions of “perfect” profiles written by “perfect” people. Wake up and smell the coffee. It’s time to get back to the basics and know people in person versus their online personalities. Relax. Shed off that detective’s cloak because you don’t need to know everything about someone to start a relationship…
The “D” Word
One popular argument about why we hesitate to go out on dates is that we’re afraid that if we agree to go for drinks or watch a movie, the other person might interpret it as the start of a serious relationship that equates to commitment. This is why people stick to online searches because they can take their time to decide whether or not a coffee date is a good idea.
There’s just one problem with that: over-analysis leads to paralysis. Before you know it, the potential person is winking at someone else. YOU are NOT the only one looking for love or companionship!
Don’t be so hung up – or stuck up. As Kimberly Thornton put it simply: “a date is merely an opportunity to get to know the person better and to see if you might want to pursue a more serious relationship in the future.” Fear can be an obstacle to finding true love. The friendly and innocent gesture of asking someone out has become a hesitant and cautious effort to reach out to people who exhibit the wonderful qualities we look for.
Pitfalls of Online Dating
Ask these questions before you decide to continue the path of online dating:
- Is the photograph a recent one, or is it even a real photo of the person?
- Does the person engage in dangerous hobbies (I like to race my motorcycle while driving in the city; I enjoy bungee jumping)
- Does the person seem flashy, maybe lives above his means, or wears expensive clothing and accessories?
- Does the person answer my messages promptly or am I waiting days for a reply (read: basic courtesies are lacking)
- Is the person using the site just to have some fun, or is only interested in sexual encounters?
- Is the person married with kids and is evasive about his work, leisure activities, etc
- If you’re interested in foreign dates, is the guy or gal asking for money to renew their visa so they can fly over?
- Does the person seem like a winner online, only for you to discover when you meet that he or she is a loser, is down and out, and looking for somone to fish them out of their predicament? Is the person an optimist, pessimist, or a fraud artist?
These pitfalls are real. If you read horror stories from people who have taken the online dating route, you’d want to seriously think about traditional dating. With the Internet being a democratic platform (too democratic in some instances), we would be wary about starting email relationships and then not closing the loop by meeting in person. We know of one person who subscribed to the six different sites because she couldn’t find the right match; she was spending too much time answering and sending out messages and analyzing profiles while at work. Her professional life suffered because of sheer exhaustion from her online dating activities. Last time we heard, she hasn’t yet been able to make a lasting connection.