If you’re in the dating world, you’re likely no stranger to online dating. From my personal life to my professional life, I hear and experience how people lose manners once a screen is between them and other people. At one point, my best girlfriends and I joked about creating a blog to record online dates-gone-bad.
As a therapist, I want my clients to feel comfortable going online to find a potential partner. Part of our discussion involves understanding how their actions impact the dating experience. As a person, I would love to report more positive experiences with online dating, and as a therapist, I want hear many more success stories. Without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind with online dating:
- Politeness: If you wouldn’t do it in person, why would you do it online? In other words, if you called someone on the phone, and they did not answer, would you call back five minutes later and continue with multiple phone calls? Would you walk up to a stranger and state something perceived as obscene or rude? If you answered “no” to those questions, then why is it appropriate to exhibit this behavior online by sending multiple messages back to back to the same person or to engage in rude conversation with a stranger? If you’ve listened to my podcast, you are aware of my experience with online dating (and if you haven’t listened, then head over to sexandrelationshiptherapist.com to take a listen!). Just recently, I began talking to Chris, who first started out very respectful. After brief conversation, Chris began calling me “sexy” such as “good morning sexy,” or “Are you sweaty and sexy” after I told him I’d been at the gym. I’m thinking (and praying!) he would not greet a co-worker, friend, or other non-romantic partner in such a way!
- Honesty and Directness: Going back to Chris, after his change in behavior in our conversation, I created theories including: 1) he had no understanding of appropriate and respectful conversation with a stranger, 2) he learned this was how you talk to some one he met on a dating app, or 3) he had an underlying motive. It turned out Chris was only looking for a hookup, which was not my intention for dating. After this discovery, our conversation ended. Now, why couldn’t Chris be up front with me in the beginning? If he had informed me that a hookup was his intention, we could have saved time and ended that conversation sooner rather than later. There are plenty of men and women who only want to hookup and plenty who are looking for dating or a relationship. One of my best dating experiences was with a man who was upfront with his intention for a non-serious relationship. I encourage people to be open and honest about their desires early on in conversation or meeting, and for each to respect the desires and wishes of the other person.
- Mindful and Awareness: Our prior discussion on politeness correlates with mindfulness and awareness. I have experienced many interactions with different men where it appears they believe I am constantly monitoring my inbox or receiving notifications of new messages. When I don’t respond in a timeframe these men deem acceptable, I receive additional messages ranging from rudeness for not responding to multiple annoying messages asking if I’m going to respond or reminding me they are waiting for a response. Let us keep in mind that 1) some people may not check their messages daily or more than 1x daily, 2) some people may not use the phone app, 3) people could be doing other things such a working/hobbies/social engagements/sleeping and the list goes on, and 4) a person just might not be interested in you for any number of reasons. In regards to number 4, please don’t take this personally. As I discuss with clients, we aren’t going to like or be attracted to everyone we meet. The same goes for other people meeting us. This is not a reflection of who we are as a person though a preference.
- Grammar: Face to face communication is ultimately the most important as one gives and receives different forms of communication from verbal words, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. With electronic communication, you lose all but verbal words and your grammar becomes your first impression. These days, emoticons enhance our electronic communication though it won’t ever compare to in person interaction. How many times have you received a text message or email from a friend where the grammar or writing was so bad you couldn’t figure out what your friend was trying to relay? This happens all the time in online dating. As I’m write this blog, I just received a message stating, “Dhali Llama?” That’s it, though I think he might mean “Dalai Lama…” This is not mindfulness or awareness in action. Is this person asking if I am the Dalai Lama? Is he asking do I like or know anything about the Dalai Lama? Could he be asking about my religious preference or if I am Buddhist monk? Is he trying to make a joke about my profile although my profile contains nothing to my knowledge about the Dalai Lama, India, Buddhism, or even lamas or farm animals! Your grammar doesn’t have to be New York Times quality writing, though please know complete sentences and spell check will greatly improve your chances of getting a response.
These are only few tips to improve your online dating experience though ones I feel are very important. Remember, your messages may be the first impression you give to another person. Stay tuned for a future blog (or podcast) talking more about how to make your online dating experience successful.