Ok, all you would-be online dating aficionados. I’m back from the trenches with more stories and advice to share. In my last post on online dating, I talked about how to optimize your profile for maximum match-finding possibilities.
But now what?
You sent a flirt. Or you received one. You want to actually progress to, you know, communicating. With words. Follow these suggestions for a blister-free journey to the altar (or, at least, a date).
1. Be positive. I know, I mentioned this in my last post, but it bears repeating. One guy who initiated the whole online mating dance with me seemed awesome and totally my type—from the ambition and drive for success to the sense of humor to the love of documentaries. At first. As we began messaging, though, things quickly soured. Within the first 500 words of our courtship, he had ragged on his boss, his company, past jobs and coworkers, and probably a lot more I can’t think of right now. And he did so with foul language in good supply. Attractor factor? Dropped from off-the-charts high to near zero.
2. Break outside your bubble. Let’s not be shallow. We all know it’s important to be physically attracted to your significant other. But don’t discount someone if he doesn’t match up to your initial standards of the ideal tall, dark and handsome Adonis. You may be pleasantly surprised. One of my best dates to come from online dating was with a guy much shorter than I had thought ideal. And me? His profile specifically stated he was interested in girls 18–21, which I did not fit.
3. Don’t dwell on appearances. Again, and MEN, this is directed primarily at YOU: let’s not be shallow. Let me explain. I cannot count the number of messages I have gotten with variations of (and I quote) “hot babe,” “it is truth and marvelous to see angels of flesh and blood, I am very impressed with your picture” (personal favorite), and “I still gotta see more photos of you! If for no other reason than to drool all over my keyboard. It's getting a bit grimy and could use a bath. So how do I get more pics of you?” Let me be clear—we girls are vain and we love us some compliments. But gentlemen, I am a daughter of God, not a call girl.
4. Focus on things in common. Find what you do have in common and start talking. The guys I’ve always been the most interested in have had messages that spontaneously grow and develop into exciting exchanges of experiences and ideas. Guys that say, “So tell me more about yourself” don’t win me over. Questions are key (remember those analogies a long time ago about hitting the tennis ball back into the other person’s court rather than letting it drop limply to the ground on your side?), but don’t make it into an interview. This should be fun, not work.
5. Avoid the awkward. Speaking of questions to discuss… Let’s talk about questions not to discuss. Yes, we’re on a dating site. Which means we are probably looking for someone to build a relationship—if not a life—with. But that doesn’t mean you should jump right into questions about what side of the bed you prefer and what your love language is. Divorces, children, reasons for not serving missions—these are topics that can be delved into after you’ve met (or, if you’re far away and meeting is a bigger commitment, at least not within the first week of messaging, please) and decided these topics might hold some slight bit of relevance to your futures together.
6. Don’t hold back. Part of that ability for conversation to grow is to push outside yourself a little—share your fears, your stories, your thoughts. Beyond “I like football” or “Green is my favorite color.” It’s the sharing of ourselves that helps us get to know each other, not a collection of facts about our personal histories. (Caveat: I'm not saying that you need to tell somebody information that could compromise your safety—remember, as our most recent dating article says, you should always keep a certain distance when talking with someone you don't really know.)
Most importantly in not holding back: don’t hold back in asking someone out. Online relationships easily stagnate when you don’t have any real-life experience to base them on. Conversely, sometimes it becomes too easy to overdevelop intimacy that falls completely flat in real life if you put off meeting for too long. Think of it more as getting set up on a blind date by friends, except better, because you already know you’re at least semi-compatible and interested. Get to know each other in real life rather than on a computer screen. And girls, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. One of the guys I invited to a football game told me, “your attractive factor went up at least 5 points for having guts enough to ask ME out.”
Kaela Worthen is the associate editor at LDS Living. A self-titled “ultimate grammar nerd,” she also battles serious addictions to news and food websites and a compulsion to dance to the radio while driving.