Everyone’s doing it, and everyone has a tale to tell, be it one of disaster or delight. So how exactly do you get internet dating right, and maximize your chances of meeting the man of your dreams? Here are a few tips from someone who has made all the classic mistakes, and learned from them.
Don’t Agree To Date If...
It may sound like common sense, but the number of people who end up going on a date with someone with a totally different outlook on life to themselves is staggering. I have come to the conclusion it is partly the triumph of hope over experience, sometimes just nosiness and sometimes just because the other person is stunningly attractive. Don’t date out of curiosity. It can be excruciating.
Long or Short Term?
If you’re looking for a soul mate or long term partner, you need to be discriminating. Don’t overlook glaring incompatibilities. It will never work. If he’s a hill runner and you prefer cream cakes it will never be a meeting of minds. If she’s mousey and into books and art galleries, while you’d rather be partying in Ibiza with your trousers round your ankles, then the chances are it’s not going to work either. Some things matter more than others – there is a mousey man out there who will love the bookish girl, and another hill walker longing to meet a hill-walking companion. They just haven’t found each other.
Be aware that some people treat Internet dating as just a bit of fun, and are not at all serious about it. If you’re Internet dating as a pastime then be up front about it. There’s nothing more dismal that someone looking for waaaaay more than you’re offering emotionally. Dating should be fun, and as long as everyone knows where they stand there should be no awkward and embarrassing misunderstandings.
Do look for qualities of compassion, honesty, integrity, respect and humour. All these things are extremely useful qualities in any relationship. Let’s face it, you could end up sharing a whole lot more than a chocolate dessert with this person.
Don’t Over Share
Over sharing is a classic internet dating mistake. Hold back a little. Don’t give your life story in emails, or on the first or even second date. Your date doesn’t want to know about your ex-boyfriends, or your medical conditions. Remember that you should present yourself as an interesting proposition. A good book that someone may want to savor reading. If you skip to the last chapter there is a sense of dissatisfaction (and possibly boredom) that is very hard to pedal back from. Be honest and open but make it clear that you are not going to spill all the beans too soon, even if your partner asks. A little mystery goes an awfully long way!
Do take some contraception with you
You never know how a date is going to turn out. You could set off with the intention of being mysterious, and honest and chaste and respectful and all those good things that you promise yourself you’ll be on a first date, only to find yourself swept off your feet and in a cab on the way back to his place within the hour.
If you pack a discreet purse with the essentials in your handbag (contraception, mouth wash, cab fare) you need have no fear. It could save a lot of heartache later on. Yes, it is a joint responsibility, but what if the other person wasn’t expecting it either? Don’t be upset if they haven’t thought ahead, or insulted if they have.
- Look for compatibility
- Don't waste your time or theirs
- Don't give it all away immediately
- Be prepared, and be safe
- Have some fun!
- Don't give up if it's not perfect!
Stay safe. Having met two people who ended up in situations they felt uncomfortable with, make sure you have an exit strategy. Tell a friend where you’re going and stick to public places. Every internet dating site gives the same advice and it’s worth heeding. After all, you’re meant to be having fun.
Have fun! That’s what it’s all about. Don’t let the atmosphere get too heavy or too intense. If you’re not having fun, just make your excuses and leave. Walk away! You have no obligation to the other person, and short of denting their confidence you won’t hurt them by doing so. Let fun be the guide here. If you’re laughing together, sharing secret smiles about the awful waiter or giggling at some familiar joke then you’re on to a winner. Don’t give up on it! He could be the one!
About the Author
April Hayward is a freelance writer from England who specializes in technology and health. It's especially important when dating casually to take the right precautions and consider the importance of Emergency Contraception in those rare instances when you don't.