The main goal is to determine whether you have enough of a connection and attraction and then to meet up to see whether it carries over in real life
As a single woman who remains open to dating, I have put myself out there in a number of online dating sites in the past couple of years. I definitely have had some interesting experiences, seriously dated a few men I met online and continue to gain important life lessons along the way.
Going online to meet men to date doesn’t mean not being open to meeting men in the natural course of work and interactions. But there are limits to these options and with the world being as global as it is now, there really is no reason to keep your world of possibilities small.
There are common questions and feedback I get from people who are wary of online dating, or who feel the need to warn me about its perils. Online dating may not be for everyone, but there is absolutely no reason to fear it either. Let me alleviate some of those concerns by sharing what I know about online dating.
Fear 1: Introducing yourself
The first possible hurdle to overcome is the sense of exposure you might feel when you sign up. In your short bio, be light and positive as you introduce yourself. I prefer to say what I do, key elements of my personality, my main interests outside of work, something about what brings me to the site, and the kind of interaction I’m looking for. Some dating apps provide specific questions for this, and you get to choose which ones to answer, if any. Just avoid being negative and highlighting any baggage you might have (“Does this thing work?” kind of stuff) because that’s the fastest way to turn high quality men off.
You have to post at least one good photo to share, but I suggest to post a few more. The nature and quality of these photos are important because men are visual, and you want not just to show your nice features, but also your diverse and fun personality and interests. Just like in person, men will react to you according to what they see, so I suggest to avoid too much sexuality so as not to automatically wind up in the fling category.
Fear 2: Scammer alert
Yes, there are potential scammers in these sites. I personally believe I have interacted with two of them. I didn’t get compromised, not to worry, but how did I know what I was dealing with? Obviously I talk about this in retrospect, but let me share my experience.
Both were seemingly very nice men, who said they had good, stable jobs. Both were foreigners by the way, and painted a very rosy picture of how life with them as partners would be like. One told me his sad story of losing his wife to cancer, showed me photos of his nice apartment, sent plenty of audio messages saying how nicely he would treat the next woman of his dreams. The other told me stories of his bad marriage and eventual divorce, his plans of coming here to meet me in a few months, complete with the name of the five-star hotel he was supposedly booked in. The interactions seemed to progress nicely, romantically, consistently and even ardently enough, only to have both of them disappear on me after some weeks, completely and for no apparent reason.
How do I know they were scammers, even if I wasn’t actually scammed, just left “upset,” a little “heart-broken,” and certainly puzzled because of the sudden and unexpected ghosting? Well, there are always tell-tale signs. And if you are aware and wise enough to share certain things and not others, if you are keen enough to ask probing questions (without it sounding like you’re probing), if you remain detached enough to look for inconsistencies and listen to your gut for things that either sound too good to be true or sound like outright lies, if you take extra care that your boundaries are in place and not crossed until you feel safe and ready…then you CAN protect yourself from falling prey to these people. They will eventually cut off the connection when they realize that they won’t be able to get anything from you. Hence, the disappearing acts.
One can get scammed, whether in person or online. It’s all about pacing relationships, being cautious while being open at the same time.
My take on this is one can get scammed, whether in person or online. It’s all about pacing relationships, being cautious while being open at the same time, not being overly-trusting until you’re absolutely sure, seeking proof of existence and claims (say for jobs, hotel and plane bookings, and such) in order to establish veracity. It’s exercising due diligence, plain and simple, because you are dealing with a practical stranger after all.
Fear 3: The hook-up culture
First of all, no man can make you hook-up with him if you don’t want to. Secondly, these men who are there just for hook-ups are not hard to spot or identify. Many of them actually announce it outright in their intro, saying they are there for hook-ups (yes, that straight).
Or they say things like, “I’m discrete,” plus post sexy, or what they deem as sexy, or downright sleazy — although not to the point of being pornographic (as the sites do police these things) — photos of themselves. Or they actually say they’re married or in an open relationship (yeah, sounds horrible, right?). Still a good number show it by not having any bio at all. Or when you start chatting with them, they talk about a “certain topic” too fast, or only about it, or ask you where you live right away followed by “your place or mine” type of comments. Yeah, hook-up guys tend not to be subtle, which is good news for those who are overly concerned with getting “victimized” by them. The best thing about this state of affairs is it makes it a no-brainer who to swipe left on. Unless of course that’s what you’re after also, but let’s hope not.
Fear 4: Meet-ups or first dates
Online dating is a way to meet men, with the hope of finding those you would actually want to meet in person. The trick here is to have good and meaningful interaction with your matches the first few times. By meaningful I don’t mean to talk about the meaning of life, love and marriage at the get go. I simply mean don’t waste your first chat(s) by talking aimlessly, and don’t carry on virtually chatting indefinitely. The main goal is to determine whether you have enough of a connection and attraction, and then to meet up to see whether it carries over in real life. The online persona can be so different from the real-life one, plus there’s the question of whether the person actually looks like his online photos, so it’s best to see whether there is physical attraction soonest. Of course, for men you meet overseas, a real-life date won’t be possible right away. So take the next best option, video calls. Maybe start off with a voice call or two, then do a video call if you’re still interested after the voice call. Then take it from there.
As for the first meet-up or date, take the usual precautions like meeting in a public place and early in the day, say for lunch or coffee. If dinner is the only option, just make sure it’s somewhere you can have a good conversation, and don’t be in a hurry to extend the date all the way to late night drinks and what-have-you. If you’re in it for serious dating, use common sense, good pacing and exercise your boundaries. That way, nothing gets out of your control.
Fear 5: Getting heart-broken
Now what if you actually end up seriously dating or even having a relationship with someone you met online, and your fear is that it doesn’t work out in the end and you wind up heart-broken. Well, such is the risk of love and relationships. Things won’t always end up rosy, and it’s a fact of life that love relationships may not last as long as we hope they would. But then that’s not the fault of online dating, is it? The odds of a relationship not working out with someone you met off- or online are equal. And the way one gets over such loss is the same as well. You pick up the pieces, do what it takes to heal and forgive, and hopefully in due time put yourself out there and try again.
No one knows when, where and how one will meet one’s life partner. I personally am all for keeping all possible channels open. And engaging when the person I’m dealing with seems worth the time, energy and effort. Yeah, it does get trying. There are days, weeks, even months when just the thought of checking out the sites hold very little or even zero appeal. But then there are those moments when you get that interesting message and you want give it another shot. Or times when you’re checking out the men on the site and at least one out of 15 makes you interested enough to swipe right on him.
The bottomline is, just like with everything in life, have fun with this activity and don’t take things too seriously. Online dating, if it calls to you, is one of the ways that may allow you to live your life more fully, help you attain your love relationship goals, and enable you to learn and grow as you share your beautiful self with others.
The online persona can be so different from the real-life one, plus there’s the question of whether the person actually looks like his online photos.
Em Guevara, a long-time lifestyle journalist-turned Professional Life Coach, currently works as a part-time editor and writer at Asian Development Bank. As a Life Coach, she loves helping women to work smart, and love smart. You may send your feedback and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.