I have been sucked into the black of hole of texting with a potential date for the last time. Online dating would surely send me to a therapist's office before it actually produced the result I was hoping for. If I ever met this guy in person, I’d surely ask him for a thumb massage.
Like many, I signed up for the quest of love and a (very) serious long-term relationship only to find myself continually fatigued from texting. DELETE.
As a kid I loathed the game, "catch me if you can". Even then I was result oriented and preferred to feel calm and settled inside. I found the tease of having something I wanted continually in my grasp and rarely in my hold, infuriatingly frustrating. I'd eventually give up just have a sense of peace back inside me.
Online dating is the same way. Entertaining at best, nightmarish at worst.
Am I the only person who actually wants to hear someone’s voice or, worse yet, see them in person after they connect with me online?
Has social media—with its added layer of nuance, its projected false sense of self and actual connectedness—finally ruined us singles who are hoping to settle down?
There was a time we actually had to pick up the phone. We had to use a third party delivery system like a friend. We had to show up to connect to someone we were interested in. There were no other options.
Today, this is all lost in the “Mad Max” world of digital dating.
I have had the experience of being both the dater and the coach. The rules of conduct are seemingly made up by a hodge-podge of daters’ experiences and professionals (like me) who help frustrated singles looking for a serious relationship in the world of dating.
With our inability to make a decision due to the other black hole of this crazy universe—too many singles to choose from–we collect people like trophies.
We find ourselves with more options and accolades than we know what to do with. This can cause many of us who are looking for a serious relationship to feel overwhelmed. This can create inaction as well as non-committal, unfocused behavior, because there is always another waiting on the sidelines.
If we have a fear of being trapped in a relationship, these endless options can feel great and safe. For everyone else, the digital dating platform can be a nightmare.
We get caught up in the game of fleeting moments of interest that are filled with a whole lot of ego-fluffing “likes” and games of “catch me if you can” that never lead to a serious relationship. If we do actually make it to the first date, there is a good chance our date will either be on their phone the entire time, show up drunk, stoned or, if we are really “lucky,” un-showered. (Yes, I had a guy show up sweaty and sunburned on our first (and last) date after he spent eight hours on the golf course.)
There could be a way out of this Mad Hatter’s game for finding love online.
Those of us who want to be in a committed relationship need to get focused and set some codes of conduct that start with us.
First, we need to figure out why we are doing digital dating. What we are looking for? A hook-up? Friendship? Friends with benefits? Marriage? To win a popularity contest?
Being clear with our goals will help us to develop better dating navigation skills.
Second, we must be authentic and honest with ourselves and others as we fill out our profiles. I know, I know we look younger than we are and we are on a diet because we gained some weight over the holidays. There is only so much fibbing that can work if you actually intend to meet the person of interest, in person.
The profile set-up:
The first date set-up:
(Chivalry Alert! Heterosexual guys: be prepared to pay for the first date as many women feel this to be an act of chivalry. This doesn’t mean doing something unaffordable! Ladies, you should always be prepared to pay, regardless of what he does.)
The first date:
Ending the first date and hoping for a second?
As the saying goes, first impressions are lasting impressions.
If we are seriously looking to share our love with another and desire to settle down in the age of digital dating, we need to be steadfast and focused in our path to finding it. There is a balance between the healthy games of flirtation and being poorly-behaved daters. If we are too busy to date, then we shouldn’t.
Author: Heather Dawn
A version of this blog originally appeared in Heather Dawn's column on Elephantjournal.com