Every aspect of our lives evolves, to a certain degree, and the world of dating is no different. There was a time when the norm for dating was to simply meet someone through work, church, or the ubiquitous bar scene, taking a period of time to get to know one another, ascertain if there is any level of interest, and then possibly make the transition from friendship to dating or perhaps something more serious.
With the advent of the technology, namely the internet, all the rules have changed. Online dating sites have sprung up right and left, some successful, such as the enormously popular eHarmony, others are more quirky, such as Zoosk.com with its borderline erotic/comedic television commercials.
Online dating’s perceived advantage is that it allows you to more specifically target the type of person you are looking for. You are usually required to join an online dating service, which is basically an online club of other people with similar goals. Some dating sites are free, but most are paid, and most are targeted towards a specific preference such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or age.
The goal behind a dating site, any dating site, is to basically cut through much of the dating ritual and get you connected to someone who shares your interests, beliefs, or convictions, and hopefully seeking a long term serious relationship. You are asked to fill out a profile, basic information about yourself, and then choose the subscription plan that works for you. Your profile will be made available on the site, and you can request introductions and respond to those who request introductions to you.
At this point, online discussions are held so you can get to know each other better and determine if a personal meeting is in order. At this point, the transition into more traditional dating practices begins, and while not every match is a guaranteed success, there are numerous stories of successful introductions that led to long term relationships or marriage. At the end of the day, it is still luck of the draw.
One of the benefits of online dating is the initial introductions with a certain degree of anonymity. It is unwise to offer any personal information, such as address, phone number, etc to somebody you just met online. The idea is to provide a layer of protection between the parties until they get to know each other better and a level of trust is established. You both must make the decision to exchange more personal information; don’t do it if the other party is unwilling.
If you do decide to take the step and meet in person, remember that no matter how many times you may have talked online, this person is still a stranger. Do not meet anywhere that you may find yourself in an undesirable situation. Meeting in a home or a hotel or anywhere that is isolated is a bad idea. Make it a very public place such as a restaurant or shopping mall, and make sure your friends and family know where you have gone and when to expect your return.
When choosing an online dating site to work through, take your time and do some research. Choose the one that emphasizes qualities and characteristics that are important to you. Determine what you are looking for in a partner, height, weight, interests, location, et al. You may actually start out with a list of seven or eight dating sites and narrow down from there. After a week or so you may notice that you are spending most of your time on one or two of the sites.
Of course any time you have any sort of business, you’re going to have scams. Some warning signs to look for include:
If communication is difficult to understand (i.e. if it is obvious that English is not their first language)
If responses are immediate every time you send a message, with no previous discussion about when you will be online.
If e-mails change in tone, or language, or style throughout the time of communication. This could indicate that more than one person is writing the messages.
If they place all the emphasis on learning about you, yet give very little in the way of information about them.
If the photo in question is too good to be true. If the person on the other end posts a photo that just strikes you as a little too perfect, well it probably is.
Online dating isn’t for everyone. If you do choose to go this route when looking for that someone special, always remember that honesty is the best policy. Choose photos that are recent, not doctored or airbrushed. Answer questionnaires honestly and forthrightly; don’t give answers that you think people want to hear. And above all, avoid cheesy come on lines like the plague…..they were goofy in the singles bars and they sound even more goofy in print.
So take your time, do your homework, put your best foot forward, and I hope you find the love of a lifetime.