What I've learned from online dating
I want to find The One. I want to find the right man to have a long-term relationship with which will hopefully lead to marriage one day. To do this, I have to put myself out there on the dating scene. Unfortunately people don’t meet at dances, socials, debutante balls or lock eyes with each other from across the room anymore. These days one of the most popular ways to meet someone is online.
I’ve been online dating on and off for the last four years and over the years I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’ve learned that despite its medium, online dating is pretty much the same as dating in real life – I have to put myself out there to be noticed, I have to fend off some guys who won’t take no for answer, some guys expect me to like them even though they can’t be bothered to tell me anything about themselves and some guys who are closer to my father’s age, if not my father’s age, will approach me thinking for some insane reason that I would want to date them. I’ve also learned that there are no guarantees: sometimes you’ll fair, sometimes you’ll succeed.
With most online dating sites, it’s a requirement to set up a profile which will often include a picture of yourself and a blurb outlining what kind of person you are. Then there’s The Checklist you fill out about yourself and based on what you’re looking for in an ideal partner. The Checklist often includes height, body type, smoker status, whether you drink, whether you want children, pets etc. Normally, every member has to do this and I personally can’t stand it when I’m approached by guys who don’t bother to fill out their profile properly because seriously, how am I supposed to like someone who doesn’t tell me anything about themselves? I turn them down.
Unfortunately, some guys won’t accept being turned down; it’s not dissimilar to when creepy guys can’t take a hint and continue to persist at pubs and clubs. The good thing about the online dating world is that if you find yourself in this situation, you can block them so that they can’t view your profile or contact you again. I’ve done this on two occasions after two guys sent me an email after being turned down twice. There’s a fine line between persistence and harassment.
And it never ceases to amaze me that men who are twice my age think I might consider going out with them. It also never ceases to amaze me that these men, men who only want to date younger women, feel confident about publically sharing a ‘maximum age’ a woman can be if they are to make the cut. One example I recently came across was a 39-year-old man who’s ideal woman was aged between 18-to-36-years-old. I don’t understand how older men don’t think that’s creepy. Some women like to date older men and that’s fine for them, but me personally? I like to date men my own age. For some reason, older men find me appealing. In the ‘real world’ I’ve had 40, even 70, year olds hit on me.
I’ve had four failures throughout my history of online dating. And what I mean by failure, is that I chatted to them without meeting them in person. Ray turned out to be a little creepy and inappropriate with some of the things he would say, Stephen was just rude and unresponsive, I could never put my finger on it but there wasn’t something right about Tom, and Jeremy seemed uninterested. These were bummers of situations, but it was for the best. It wasn’t meant to be.
But then there was Patrick. We talked online for two months before meeting in person and we ended up dating for six months. We met in person on our university campus and our relationship blossomed from there. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but I don’t regret it. My relationship with him was my first long-term relationship.
Am I going to meet The One through online dating? I don’t know. That being said, however, I highly recommend it. My advice is to pick a username that doesn’t reveal your identity and not to reveal your last name until you are close to meeting in person or until you meet in person. Patrick and I shared our surnames with one another only after we met in real life. I also recommend trusting your gut instinct both when you approach someone and when someone approaches you. If someone approaches you and you’re not interested in them, remember to use email etiquette and let them know. If someone is taking no for answer or is contacting you aggressively, block or report them to the site administrators. And last, but not least, remember to relax and have fun.
Rachel Loveday is a freelance writer. She established her own freelance writing business, Loveday Writing in May 2013.