Believe it or not, online dating was once considered a strange and unusual thing.
When I started working as a couples therapist over thirteen years ago, I always asked my couples how they met. My couples would often be embarrassed to tell me they met online. It was like online dating was a dirty little secret that they didn’t want their friends or family to know.
Fast-forward to today and it’s hard to meet a single person who hasn’t used online dating to meet new people. And there is certainly no embarrassment today about using apps and dating sites to make new connections.
The upside of online dating is it’s a fast and convenient way to connect with lots of new people quickly. The downside is you can experience frustration, despair and rejection, which can lower your self-esteem and self-worth.
So how you navigate the world of online dating and still take care of yourself?
Here are some of my top survival tips:
1. Have a Profile That Is a Genuine Reflection of Who You Are
This might seem like a no-brainer, but there are still people who create online dating profiles that are vague, incorrect, or just downright dishonest.
Your dating profiles need to be a genuine reflection of who you are, what you’re looking for and what your values. There’s no point in creating a disingenuous profile to attract someone. Sooner or later, you’ll be found out.
Your dating profile is like a filter. You want to attract the people that connect with you, and you want to filter away those that are not a match. The more honestly you reveal yourself in your profile will help you attract people that are better matches for you in the long run.
2. Connect in the Real World Sooner Rather Than Later
One of the biggest problems I frequently hear about in my therapy practice is when a person connects online with a potential mate and then goes on to have a ‘virtual relationship’ for weeks, months, or even years.
The problem with this situation is you’re developing a faux relationship with a fantasy person. When you don’t meet someone in real life and continue to have a virtual relationship, it’s too easy to project all the qualities you’re looking for in a partner onto this person, which can lead to major disappointment when you do finally meet in real life.
I recommend you treat online dating as a conduit to get the contact details of potential matches. Then organize to meet in real life sooner rather than later, so you can get the full picture on this potential mate.
3. Be Honest and Respectful in All Communications
We’ve all been on the end of hurtful communication at one time or another. Whether it’s direct rejection, or the other end of the spectrum where someone just unexpectedly disappears (known as “ghosting”), it still hurts.
Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet means that many people treat each other badly because they can do so relatively anonymously.
It’s important to remember that at the other end of your dating app or computer is a real human being. Don’t seek to hurt deliberately or cause pain in another person. Be honest and respectful in all your communications and there is a good chance people will be honest and respectful to you. Plus, it’s just good karma.
4. Take Your Time to Get to Know Someone
Just because online dating allows you to meet someone instantly doesn’t mean you need to rush into an instant relationship.
Many people make the mistake of moving too quickly into a deep relationship. When you rush into a new relationship, it’s too easy to miss warning signs and red flags that may indicate this person is not right for you.
It takes time to get to know someone and build the type of trust and intimacy that will help you form a long-lasting relationship.
5. Take Care of Your Safety at All Times
This tip might seem obvious, but it’s important to take care of your safety at all times.
Sadly, there are people out there that create fake dating profiles so they can have fun at your expense, play mind games, and sometimes these people have more sinister intentions.
Don’t automatically believe anything you read or see on a dating site. Don’t reveal anything that’s too personal until you’ve met your date in real life and you can begin to formulate an accurate assessment of the person.
Whenever you meet a date for the first time, always meets in a public venue and let a friend know about your date, who you’re seeing and where you’ll be.
But taking a few precautions you can feel safe and still have lots of fun with online dating.