Tips for a more positive online dating experience.
By Amy Crawford
For those seeking a new relationship, online dating is becoming more and more difficult to avoid. In the main, online dating has become a wonderful way to connect; it's opened up social circles, brought about lasting friendships, curbed loneliness and disconnection, opened our eyes to the many and varied types of relationships available to us. For others it can be a frustrating, disappointing and immensely challenging experience.
As an early online dater adopter I've learnt many a lesson along the way. I recall many feelings of discomfort; being riddled with angst as I waited for replies, filled with uncertainty about how I should show up online and in the flesh, feelings of not being enough clouding my judgement and lowering my standards. Oh the stories I could tell!
Over the years my experience with online dating has changed markedly and I have not only collected a wonderful array of lasting friendships, but it's provided me, a woman who works from home in a female dominated industry, with the opportunity to connect with like minded men, at the swipe of a screen.
Below are my top tips for a more positive online dating experience, gathered over approximately 15 years of personal 'research'.
Check in with your emotional health first.
Ask yourself whether you are an emotionally healthy version of you right now and if in answer to that, you're ready to put your best foot forward.
Are there feelings of being unworthy or not good enough? How is your self-esteem? All of this will markedly impact the type of person you invite into your life and the experience that ensues.
If you realise how unique and special you are, if you have high standards (and you should) then stick to them. Adhering to your standards means you won’t settle for ordinary behaviour.
However, if you don’t feel worthy of inviting quality humans into your life, you're likely to drop those standards because you don't believe you deserve any better. If this is the case you'll likely have a less than positive experience.
Go do the inner work to set yourself up for a good experience. Book in to a counsellor or a healer, check out my CTC therapy offering; just do whatever you need to do to be 'game ready'.
Remember too that no one can fix you but you. If you are looking for a relationship to fix you, you are setting yourself up to fail. A relationship should complement you in some way, not fix the pain you feel. For instance, are you hurting and rebounding from another relationship? If so, inviting someone in before you've closed the door is possibly not the right time. Are you trying to smother the pain with distraction instead of dealing with the grief you feel? Are you doing it to hurt someone else?
Change your approach to online dating in general.
This is the best advice I have ever been given around online dating.
Set an intention that you are simply looking to meet and connect with quality humans.
Who knows, you might make a friend/find a business partner/enjoy some intimacy along the way.
If your ultimate goal is to find a husband or a wife for example, let it go; take the pressure off and with every face to face connection you commit to make, look for the good in that person. At least go with the belief that everyone comes into our life for a reason.
You've heard it before - every person you meet is here for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Be open to considering something you didn’t expect.
What about a companion that comes to your city once a week and seeks a dinner partner? How about someone who shares your hobbies or a like minded business owner with skills to trade? Would you consider someone who is in an ethically non-monogamous relationship if you’re not looking for a full commitment? What about friendship alone?
Stay open to possibility, you might be suprised by what you discover.
Choose a couple of dating apps that feel good to you and put your best foot forward.
There are so many apps - Tinder, OK Cupid, Bumble, RSVP, eHarmony, to name a few. Just know this, you do not have to pay for a dating app, unless the ads get the better of you. I once spent years forking out money for apps promising me love. Yet the dollars weren't what made the difference - my mindset and self esteem were responsible for that. Every app feels very different and with some I've had more, or less, positive experiences. To date OKCupid is the sure-fire winner for me.
Once you've chosen your app/s, select a series of photos that show you enjoying yourself in various scenarios, doing the stuff you enjoy. Quality photos will have a far greater hit rate so get some help if you need. Just please, for the love of God, include recent photos, not photos of you 5 years earlier or many kgs lighter. You are setting yourself up to fail if you expect someone to greet your favourably when you don't look much at all like your photos.
Complete the profile to the best of your ability and treat it like a job application – proofread it, check your grammar, be positive! Don’t rant about what you don’t want or be negative (at all). Be honest, even transparent if it's appropriate so as not to waste yours or other people's time.
Be brave, if you seek something non-traditional, that’s very much ok!
Go at your own pace and never apologise for it.
Don’t ever be pressured into moving faster than you’d like. You may choose not to meet until you've established that you have lots in common, or until it feels like you're going to meet a friend. That could be 48 hours of intense text messaging or a week of conversation, just go when it feels right to you, not according to someone else.
Know though, that you do have to get out from behind your screen.
Protect your privacy
Don’t be pressured into handing over your phone number at any point until you feel a good level of trust. If you're not aware of kik, check it out. It allows you to set up an anonymous account and is often easier to message via this than some online apps.
Don’t be a ghoster
I think we can all agree that it sucks to be ghosted; you're chatting away happily for a few days and POOF, they disappear. Or even worse, you meet them, hit it off and into a cloud of smoke they go, never to be heard from again.
It has often astounded me that people lack the courage as to find it too difficult to tell me something doesn't feel right. If someone has crossed the line (that is, been rude/offensive/disrespectful) then go nuts; but if they've been polite and kind and made an effort, say goodbye (politely). Focus on being a good human.
Don’t allow yourself to be disrespected.
We get to decide what we put up with. If you are offended by dick shots (yep, brace yourself folks), foul language, immense negativity etc, then back out. Just know this, you do NOT have to justify or explain and nor should you take it upon yourself to try and change someone before you leave. Don't waste your energy. If they’re being a substandard human, let them go and save your energy for a better quality version.
Keep date 1 simple!
As a general rule, keep date 1 to coffee or a drink. Don’t book dinner. The only reason you might book dinner is if you've been conversing with this person enough to ascertain there'll be reasonable connection to enable you to uphold a conversation. Just know that eating food on a date can be a very long and awkward experience when there's nothing to say.
Having said that, if you book a drink and it goes so well that you end up having dinner - BINGO!
Focus on staying positive. Even if you're being ghosted.
Every one of us is likely to have a not so fabulous experience. Just chalk it up to experience and let it go; put your energy into meeting the next guy or girl. If you get bitter and resentful it will be evident in your communication - and it will surely come through when you date.
Dating tip 101: don’t bitch or talk about your ex incessantly.
Don’t yuk other people’s yums (that is, try not to be a judgemental arsehole).
When it comes to the world of dating, relationships and sex this is one of the best sayings ever. Don't yuk other people's yums. Just don't. It's absolutely not your place to judge someone for what makes them happy, or for the way they choose to live their life.
Let's say for example that someone messages you and shares with you that they are in an ethically non-monogamous relationship (all power to them!) but you are only interested in a monogamous relationship (all power to you!) and cannot possibly fathom how you could fit into the aforementioned alternative (let alone how anyone else could). Just remember, it's not your job to cast judgement and nor do you have any right to do so. All you need to say is "Thanks, but no thanks" and on your merry way you go.
Please, learn to listen to it and to trust it. Niggling feelings of "something's not quite right here" do, very often, morph into strong feelings of "why the hell didn't I listen to my intuition!"
Know of course that feelings can go grow. I'm not suggesting you give up as soon as you worry that something isn't feeling quite right, but if that niggling feeling hangs about, or if you find yourself continually justifying someone's substandard behaviour, get out of there. We are often far more perceptive than we give ourselves credit for.
Backing out, kindly
Assuming you've only been chatting online, or maybe caught up for a coffee, you don’t owe anyone any huge explanations. It can absolutely be as simple as "I need to let you know, I don’t feel the way I should be feeling and I would like to leave if there." Or words to that effect.
Please, under no circumstances allow yourself to be made to feel bad for your feelings - your feelings matter. Energy also matters. If the energy/chemistry isn’t there, it simply isn’t there (though I do appreciate that chemistry can often build with time).
Back out during the date if it's appropriate or send a message later if that feels better to you. Just don't ghost, and be kind.
If you've any tips to share please, go right ahead, comment below and let's make this a happier swiping journey for all. Happy swiping friends, and remember... so many no's makes a yes!