Online dating... there's definitely a stigma attached to it. But there's really no wonder when you hear stories about the "no strings attached" attitude, catfishes, and people basically turning out to be complete psychopaths. That doesn't mean you should give up before you've even tried though, if it's something you're interested in. Today I'm going to talk about what I've learned about online dating over the years and why there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you go into online dating knowing what to expect it makes things much easier… I think anyway. There’s a lot I know now that I wish I knew before. Most people use Tinder, Bumble, Badoo etc to either find a relationship, date, have something casual, or just be a general pest. It’s important to be able to differentiate pretty quickly which one people want and what YOU want.
Looking to date people to get more experience and build your confidence? That’s great, but it’s only fair to be clear about your intentions. If you’d like something casual then that’s your call, again just be honest about it. If you’re in search of something long-term then hopefully my post can help and make you think about a few things. If you’re on dating apps to be a pest, just don’t.
Stigmas and why it can be difficult
First of all, if you’re anything like me, you might be worried what others will think about you meeting someone online (especially parents). The dreaded yet inevitable question “So, how did you meet?” crops up and you squirm a little bit in your seat before finally spitting it out, “hmrhrnm… Tinder”. It really shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of though because let’s be honest, people don’t seem to meet in the same ways they once used to. It’s normal to online date now, after all we live in an online world most of the time.
I was anxious that my friends/family would think I was desperate too. Like it was almost my last resort because I couldn’t meet anyone in person. It isn’t desperate though, it’s just an alternative method to dating the traditional way and what’s wrong with that? Think of it like a catalogue of men and women… It also takes a lot of bravery and confidence to online date. Essentially, you are putting yourself out there for potentially a lot of people to see and judge. It actually should be admired.
Something else I was unsure about was the concept of meeting someone in person who I’d got to know online. Will they look like their photo or was that just a good angle? Will it actually be the same person who turns up? Are they going to be disappointing in conversation? Or worse, will they be a serial killer? There’s a whole list of things that run through your head before you arrive on a date.
Tips for talking online and finally meeting in person
Let’s strip it right back to the point when you’re just about to talk to someone online. If you’re feeling brave enough to initiate conversation, I always found that picking out something from their bio was a good starting point. This shows you’re interested enough to have read it and want to know more. It also beats the “Hi, how’re you?” conversation starter every time.
Getting to know someone via messages is much, MUCH harder than talking in real life. You really do have to put the extra effort in to keep your own interest and theirs. The gamble is whether you get it back from the person you’re talking to but if they’re enjoying the conversation it should be pretty obvious.
The best thing to do is ask plenty of questions to try and get to know the person as best as you can before you move on to meeting them. Ask questions you want to know the answers to – the important stuff. Find things you have in common or any differences you may have.
Talk about travel, music, films, TV, life experiences, careers, embarrassing moments… A good conversation should just flow but if you’re struggling go back to their bio for some pointers. If you feel the conversation starting to dry up and you’re still interested, then why not ask something personal? Doing this might reignite the conversation and pique their interest again as well as yours.
At this point, you’re not going to feel 100% comfortable with the person you’re talking to because you haven’t seen them in person yet. But I think establishing at least some common ground, proving you get along, and both want to know more about each other is a great starting point.
If things are going great and the conversation is still exciting you then you might want to see what they’re like in the flesh. Meeting anyone you don’t know is a risk but in situations like these you have to assess the risks and think how you can make yourself feel better about it. Always meet in a safe, public place where there are plenty of other people around. Don’t agree to let anyone pick you up in their car and make your own way there instead. During your date, stay as little or as long as you wish. If you’re having an amazing time then why cut it short? On the other hand, if something feels off or you’re not enjoying yourself then don’t feel bad about ending the date when you feel comfortable.
Something I think is really important in all of this is to just be yourself. There’s no point trying to appear more confident, trying to laugh more at their jokes, or being dishonest about who you are. Generally, it’s easy to tell if someone is putting on a facade and it’s not attractive. Try and relax and just be the person you are because if all goes well and you decide on a second, third, and fourth date it’ll become extremely difficult to keep up the ‘other you’. Basically, just enjoy yourself and if the person likes you that’s fantastic. Even better if you like them too.
What I’ve learned about online dating and my success story
When I started university seven years ago Tinder was the new thing. It was everywhere and everyone was using it. At that point, it was just a laugh between friends to see who you wanted to ‘Swipe Left’ or ‘Swipe Right’ on and read people’s funny bios. There wasn’t really any seriousness in it and it actually became quite a social thing.
Since then, over the years, I’d used online dating apps to go on a few dates but I really hadn’t found anyone worth seeing more than once. Quite quickly I realised that people were boring, vulgar, or seemed uninterested in genuine conversation. Quite often it was all three! I eventually felt like online dating, for me, had become something I found incredibly tedious, exhausting, and disappointing.
I had an on and off thing with it for a while, where if I felt lonely I’d download the Tinder app again for a flick through the man catalogue… Nope, still pretty grim I thought! I stayed off it for a good few months until my brother encouraged me to get back on and have a look. In fairness, it was more for his entertainment as I granted him the right to choose who I matched with.
My brother is a pretty good judge of men, since he is one himself! He made sure not to match with typical types I’d chosen before… tall, dark, tattoos (never a success story). Instead he helped me look through and find people who actually looked like nice people.
Eventually, I got talking to someone and we just hit it off from the beginning. We started talking about travel… one of my absolute favourite things in life. He was on holiday while we were getting to know each other and asked if I’d like to go on a date when he got back. I was super nervous as I hadn’t been on any date for over a year (I started to hate men a little bit) but I gave myself a push to go.
We went bowling and then for food and a few drinks. I met him after work at 6.45pm and I didn’t get home until half midnight because we just had so much to talk about. For the first time (I think ever) on a date I felt completely at ease. After that we went on another three dates that same week… he asked me to be his girlfriend the week after. The rest is history!
If there’s anything I can say to sum this post up and the biggest thing that I’ve learned… it’s don’t give up. If you’d like to online date and want to meet someone nice it WILL happen. Ignore the creeps that linger on Tinder and Badoo, block the ones that are rude or pretentious, don’t do ANYTHING you’re not comfortable with, and if you need to give yourself a push out of your comfort zone then do it because the result can be so worth it. Be persistent.
Heck, I’m buying a house with my Tinder match next year. It’s amazing what can be just around the corner. Just be safe and go with your gut. Your gut is never wrong.