Recently, I decided to try online dating. I was hesitant at first because I’ve always had an overly romanticized picture in my mind of how I would meet my future spouse—by chance, both of us in the right place at the right time. Online dating seemed a little too much like taking things into my own hands.
But curiosity got the best of me and I thought, “Why not?” With all the stories of people getting married after meeting online, it couldn’t hurt to at least check it out. It’s been a couple of months now since I made that decision and I’ve gleaned a few tips along the way that you may find helpful if you’re considering online dating as well:
1. It’s okay to say “hi” first!
It’s a deeply held belief by many women that the guy needs to make the first move. A belief I was clinging to tighter than I’d like to admit. I would read through a guy’s profile, be interested in meeting him, and then just sit there and think, “Well maybe he’ll say hi to me.”
But then I thought to myself: “Why do I need to wait for him to say something?”
I started challenging myself with that question, and the more I did the bolder I became in introducing myself first. And I discovered it’s really not that weird! I was making it out to be a much bigger deal in my head than it really was. One of those “hellos” has led to an upcoming date! So don’t be shy. The worst thing the other person will think is that you find him attractive.
2. It’s also okay not to say hi.
This was an especially hard one for me as I don’t ever want to be rude or hurt anyone’s feelings. The fact is is that there are a lot of fish in the online dating sea. Many guys may message you to introduce themselves. You can’t respond to every message you receive, especially from people you can’t imagine dating because they have certain non-negotiable traits that you can’t live with.
The point of online dating is to give you information about a person right off the bat, allowing you to make an educated decision about whether or not you even want to say hello. You can’t spend all your time explaining to people why you can’t keep talking to them or you won’t have time for conversations with people you’re genuinely interested in. Sure, their feelings may be a little hurt if you don’t always respond, but chances are someone else will respond to them.
3. Give it some time before meeting.
Once you’ve successfully begun a conversation with someone, don’t feel like you need to rush into meeting them. I had a few experiences where a guy either wanted to Skype or meet in person only minutes after introducing himself. It was flattering that they were so excited to meet me, but that is far too soon for me know if there is enough common ground to merit going on a date with him.
The most worthwhile conversations I’ve had online have been those that happened slowly over the course of a couple weeks—each of us taking our time and not being afraid to ask substantive questions. It’s only once you’ve gotten to know a person a little deeper that you’ll be certain whether or not you want to meet in person. Especially when you’ve never met the person before, it makes sense not to jump into the date too soon.
Remember, online dating is about seeing what’s out there and seeing if there’s anyone that may be right for you. If they’re clearly not, it’s okay to walk away. Or, rather, sign off.