So, what about online dating? Times being what they are, online dating services are growing in popularity and they do present some unique circumstances (and challenges) that other dating relationships don’t have to face. I still feel like most of this method applies without much change to internet relationships, but there are some differences. So, thanks to a few questions from a friend of mine, here are some answers about how this method can be applied to online dating.

Question #1: If I use an online dating service, does that mean I’m desperate? 

Now, for some reason, this question assumes that being desperate for a date is a bad quality to possess. Is it?

Secondly, how is someone who is looking for a date via an online dating service more desperate than a person looking for a date at a night club? If both persons are utilizing the methods that they feel will give them the greatest chance for success, should we call that ‘desperate’? And, if so, (and if being desperate is a bad thing) what is the better alternative?

So, it’s hard to answer this question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The important thing to remember is that where we meet people doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we choose to treat them when we do.

Question #2: Am I vain if I just scan through online dating profiles and make quick judgements about people?

Probably. But, again, this is no different than going to a bar, classroom, or church in person and doing the same thing. Both men and women are constantly (and quickly!) aware of people they are attracted to and people they are not attracted to. Sometimes that process is mostly shallow and based completely upon appearances. Nevertheless, attraction is often the spark that starts the relationship, so if it’s simply based on whether or not one finds another attractive, then it’s not vain; it’s fact.

On the other hand, with online dating the volume and pace of this can be greatly exaggerated and objectified because of lack of personal interaction. For instance, if one were to go to a bar, he or she might only interact with 20-50 people over the course of one evening. However, one can sift through hundreds of online profiles in one sitting. To prevent unhealthy levels of vanity and objectivization, I would limit the number to what one person would normally expect to meet in a day’s worth of social interaction.

Question #3: What should meeting up with someone you get to know online look like?

This is a most-difficult question and one that I am, frankly, unable to answer with confidence. I have some opinions, but my strongest piece of advice is this: make sure that your online relationships are not secretive. Friends and family should be well aware of who you are interested in and be able to tell you whether or not they think it is a good idea for you to meet someone in person. Regrettably, we live in an age where a person’s online presence isn’t usually who they really are in person. This makes online relationships even more risky than normal. Precautions should be taken until trust is established.

While this is not something I have any experience with, here are some general ideas and thoughts I would suggest:

  • Meet the person at a common location in public. Guys should arrange to travel to wherever the woman is and select a location that she is most comfortable with and meet her there.
  • Have the meeting during the daytime if possible. Lunch dates are generally less intimidating for both parties. Keep it short too – just chapter 2.6-2.7 suggest.
  • The guy should recommend or offer for the woman to bring a friend along if that would make her feel comfortable. It’s important to get a second opinion from a trusted friend. The guy should welcome this even though it seems a little weird. Getting to know a woman’s best friend is often just as important as getting to know the woman herself.
  • It’s difficult to say when the couple should meet. It will differ for each relationship and should not be rushed or forced. If either person is in a hurry, consider it a red flag.
  • Do not let the relationship get too emotionally intimate prior to meeting someone in person. If when you meet them in person you realize that the other person is not who you hoped they would be, then you won’t have to deal with the emotional hurt that would come from having shared so deeply before.
  • I also don’t think that either person should say that he or she is ‘dating’ the other until after the first in-person meeting. I don’t really have a strong reason. I think that the first date should be in person is all.

Once the first meeting happens, the guy needs to very quickly have a DTR with the woman. It might be on the spot (if he’s super-gutsy), but probably better that he leave the first meeting letting the woman know he will call her the next day. However he manages to communicate with the woman after the first meeting, the guy needs to let the woman know where he stands and either tell her he’s still interested or that he’s not. Beyond that point, I feel like the rest of this dating method applies without much deviation.

Question #4: Any other advice for online dating?

Here are some thoughts that are too short for their own question:

  • Online dating should not be your primary or only means of social interaction. Sometimes online dating is more socially convenient because you “match” with someone else or know that they are at least interested in talking with you (especially when doing that in person hasn’t worked out for you lately). Nevertheless, you should keep looking for opportunities or create them if you have to.
  • You are not weird if you fall in love and marry someone you initially meet on the internet.
  • Singles groups are generally lame because all the ‘not lame’ people think that they are too cool to participate. I wonder how cool singles groups actually might become if those ‘not lame’ people actually participated in them (or at the very least gave them ideas on how to be not as lame). Start the new trend and make singles groups the new cool place to hang out!
  • Keep your friends and family posted on how you’re doing. If you’re bummed that you’re not really connecting with anyone, let them know. If you’re excited about someone you’ve met, let them know. The more your community is involved with your online relationship, the better chances you’ll have of making a good choice.

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Do you use an online dating service? What advice would you add to this list? What questions would you ask?