Dating is weird.
Online dating is even weirder.
You mean to tell me that I should make the effort to make a good first impression to a man I have only virtually met but clearly liked enough at first swipe and further over a few messages to accept a date invitation?
You further mean to tell me that I may have to sit through a meal even if I know within the first fifteen minutes of being in each other’s presence if I am interested in said date? Which means I have to make small talk in order to maintain basic levels of polite conversation to get through the meal. Then there’s that awkward moment at the end when the waiter asks if you’re ready for the check and you want to pay for it because it’s the least you could do after what you’re going to do at the end of the date, which is give them the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.
No one likes having that talk, let alone being the one it’s given to.
Worst yet, you’re telling me I may actually end up liking someone a lot and risk giving my heart some aches?
When I first started online dating, it was during the era of Tinder. I was twenty-two, naïve and shy. I had never really dated prior to this, given my high-school sweetheart essentially told me we were dating (this should have been my first insight into what the future of that relationship would be like, but that’s a topic for another day) and college was entirely exhausting enough without adding the pressures of dating. Not to mention the effects social media had everyone’s digital behavior – little did we know what was to come!
Swiping was like this game that I couldn’t stop myself from playing, obsessively checking the app for more contenders to shallowly assess or reply to messages with people who I knew I would never speak to again. This was short-lived because weeks later, I was back with my ex.
I tried Tinder again, I’m ashamed to admit, sporadically over the next few years, during my tumultuous on-and-off again relationship. When it finally ended, with a fierceness that was necessary, I gave myself two years to grieve and mourn and learn about myself as an individual who was not in a relationship, but still had so much to offer the world alone. Despite it being lonely and oftentimes plain sad, it was also liberating, cathartic, and really quite beautiful.
Then one day, I decided to try dating again.
In my last post, I talked about my move to Fort Worth, Texas, and oh how wonderful the last several months have been. I have met so many incredible people and built not only a diverse group of friends but connected with like-minded entrepreneurs who have been inspiring and motivating for my own career.
But it’s dating that has been truly eye-opening and I’ll share with you all what I’ve learned, good and bad.
Initially, I’d looked to dating as something casual, a way to meet a man who I liked enough to join me in my exploration of my new home base. Even better if he was a native!
My first week, I’d planned three dates, with three different men at three different places. Now, before you go on and start calling me some choice words, I paid for my meal, my drink, and my coffee, respectively, and I was fully transparent with each man about my intentions – or non-intentions.
Here is the first thing I learned through my online dating experience: Be very transparent about what you’re looking for, or not looking for, from the beginning. Some may think this is too honest or too in-depth to go into with someone you’ve recently acquainted yourself with, but trust me, it will save you a lot of time. And them a lot of time too.
Second, let them pay for the meal! I’m all about female independence, but if he pulls out his wallet, even as you reach for yours, let the man pay. If a man asks you to dinner or drinks or coffee or lunch or an event, oftentimes he’s going in knowing that he’s investing in your time and will be paying. I’m not making this up, I have been told this, not once, not twice, but THREE different times. Some men never want their lady to pay, and it has to do with being a provider. This latter aspect I’m still working on understanding and letting some situations slide because my inner Queen likes to argue. But I digress.
Third, which has more to do with myself than online dating, is to really consider the things you can’t compromise on when dating someone. I noticed a trend, that I would get to know someone, like them enough to go on a date, and then in the process learn about something that didn’t quite jive with me in terms of a long-lasting relationship. Upon some self-reflection, I realized I did this because subconsciously, I knew that it gave me a suitable excuse to end things in the future, or give the “I only see you as a friend” talk. However, I had to admit that I was doing someone else a disservice by continuing to date someone I knew I didn’t want to be in a relationship with ever. It wasn’t fair of me, or even nice.
Fourth, if they don’t ask you on a second date, or they tell you that they don’t feel any chemistry, or they ghost you…it’s okay! They’ve done you a favor! I know it’s easier said than done, but truly, everyone is navigating the dating scene in their own way and everyone is entitled to their preferences. I firmly believe that there is someone out there for everyone and the universe puts other people in our paths to prepare us for our person. But even so, I know it absolutely sucks to feel rejected. My best friend is navigating the dating scene and is coming across some doubts about continuing to put herself out there. She is an absolute babe, gorgeous inside and out. But though she is a fierce lioness, she has a sensitive soul. She feels deeply, possibly more than anyone I’ve ever met, and so dating for her takes a tiny piece of her every time. I know she is likeable, she is in fact very loveable, and people recognize that she is the one you take seriously, you treat like a princess, and try to give the world to. For that reason, I believe the considerate men are leaving her free to find her one.
The fifth and final thing I would say is, if you do change your mind and want something serious, or wanted serious from the beginning, look for the person who wants something serious too. Along the way, I had stopped looking for casual and instead, began looking for someone I wanted to bring into my world, but I was still acting as if I was okay with casual with men who wanted casual. I had to stop that. I had to be honest with myself – I could not convince someone they wanted something different. Most men are quite resolute in what they want or believe in. They’re the ones who must come to conclusions and you will only cause yourself some emotional distress in the long run.
All this to say…if you’re ready to date, babe, do it!
Online dating may not be for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be a forever option, but it’s a good starting point. There are so many dating apps out there if you’re nervous about making the first move in person (this is totally something that psyches me out too!) and many of them give you the flexibility of trying a virtual date first. Seriously, Bumble video chats are a lot of fun for trivia lovers! If you have any questions about which platform to use, reviews help a lot.
But if I leave you with one key bit of advice, it’s to always remember to practice safe online dating! Most dating profiles give you the option of verifying your account, so this tells you that there is a ninety-eight percent chance the person is who they say they are – that two percent goes out to the people who go completely out of their way to use someone else’s identity, which is way uncool. If they don’t have any prompts answered because they can’t be bothered, they’re probably not very serious about dating. If they ask you out on a date, insist on a virtual date first. This will not only test the chemistry, but also ensure they match their photograph. When you go out to dinner, meet them there and make sure a friend or five know where you are and where you’re going and who you’re going with – trust me, you could always go pick up your car later if things go really well.
Now, happy dating, babes!