Online dating, in theory, is a great idea. It gives you a chance to meet someone that you might never meet in the regular course of life. And if you’re busy with a career or kids (or both!) and if you don’t like to frequent bars and clubs, online dating can be a great way to meet a potential partner.
But Internet dating often creates more horror stories than love stories. Yes, it has worked for some, but many have horrible experiences with Internet dating, meeting more losers, liars and lunatics than authentic lovers.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re dating online or perhaps considering it for the first time, I thought I’d offer some straight talk on how to have a good experience when dating online.
The perspectives I’m going to share come from personal AND professional experience. Personally, I did online dating for about 18 months (4 different sites) and that experience taught me a lot—about what to do and especially what NOT to do.
Professionally, I’m a relationship coach who works exclusively with single people who want to attract lasting love. And I’ve coached hundreds of people who’ve been involved with online dating. So what I’m about to share is wisdom from the trenches, so to speak. I’ll divide my straight talk into four parts: Principles, Practices, Profiles and Pictures.
1. Being on-line isn’t necessary.
While many people have met someone and fallen in love via online dating, it really isn’t necessary. Does a flower have to “do” anything to attract bees? Of course not. It just lives its life looking beautiful and smelling wonderful and the bees find them.
Likewise, all you need to “do” in order to attract lasting love is be the happy, emotionally healthy, sweet-smelling beautiful “flower” that you are, and when you do that, your partner—man or woman—will find you. That said, the Internet is a tool and you may want to give it a try. If so, read on.
2. Be happy being alone.
If you’re looking for a partner online (or anywhere else) because you feel a relationship will alleviate your loneliness, fill a void or make you happy, you have what I call the “You Complete Me” mindset and you’re going to experience a lot of suffering in your love life.
This is so important that I’ve written an entire book on it. You must be happy alone—BEFORE—you look for a partner online or anywhere else, and that’s what I do with my clients. (Perhaps we should discuss this. My contact info is at the end of this article.)
3. Begin with the end in mind.
If you want the online experience to work for you, there are several issues you must be clear about before you go online.
First, define your boundaries. Get clear on 3-5 must-haves (e.g. children, religion, etc.) and 3-5 can’t-stands (e.g. smoking, addiction, etc.). You don’t need an overly long list, but you do need one that defines your basic boundaries.
Second, and most importantly, ask yourself, “Would the man or woman I’m interested in be interested in me?” Remember, the law of attraction says like attracts like. You will never attract someone healthier, happier or more grounded than you are. You will attract after your own kind.
What changes, what growth, what transformation needs to occur in your life so that when you meet the man or woman of your dreams, you are the fulfillment of their dreams? (Again, this is where coaching comes in. I help men become “superior” and women to become “radiant.”)
4. Decide on your sexual boundaries.
I mentioned boundaries earlier, but this one deserves its own category. What are your sexual boundaries? You need to decide this before you go online—or date at all.
I recommend that my clients hold off on being sexual until an exclusive commitment has been made. (That means, in part, that neither of you is online anymore!) That may happen after a few dates or after a few months. Time isn’t the issue, your commitment is (though your religious faith may inform the timing too).
Religion aside, in my experience, people have the most success (and the least grief!) when sexuality is an expression of commitment rather than an expression of mere chemistry. (I’ve written an extensively on this in blog titled, The Third Wave of the Sexual Revolution.)
Once those principles are a part of your life, you are then ready to go online. Here’s a nuts and bolts list on how to make Internet dating a positive experience.
1. Cut to the chase
Once you connect with someone online, get to a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Don’t get stuck in digital hell. Many of my clients spend weeks interacting by text only to finally meet the person and discover they don’t look like their pictures or that there is absolutely no chemistry. Don’t waste time. Cut to the chase. Meet them in person, which brings me to the next practice.
2. Rules for your first meeting
Notice I did not say “rules for your first date.” This is a first meeting. It’s not a date. Do not meet for dinner and drinks. I beg you to listen to me here. You do not want to get into a 2-hour commitment only to realize in the first 5 minutes that you’re not interested.
Additionally, meet only for 20-30 minutes at a public place for coffee or tea. This way, if you don’t feel it, you haven’t wasted time or money. However, since you should only meet people that look really good “on paper,” you may want to leave some time open behind the ½ hour meeting in case you do feel chemistry. If that happens (Yahoo!), then turn the meeting into a full-blown date.
3. Be respectful and considerate
The final rule is about what to do if you find you’re not interested in seeing this person again. Don’t sugar coat your feelings or say something you don’t mean. If you don’t want to see them again, say, “You seem like a really nice person but I don’t feel a fit between us. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I wish you all the best.” Then walk away.
Men, don’t be a wuss and say you’ll call them when you know you have no intention of doing so. And ladies, don’t say you’d like him to call you again if you already know you won’t answer the phone! Respect the person and be considerate. You are not hurting a person’s feelings if you say you’re not interested. (What you’re actually doing is protecting yours!) Honor them with your truth.
Writing a good profile is a critical part of having a positive online experience. Yet I’ve seen far too many men and women hardly put any thought or time into theirs. This is a huge mistake. Ideally, your profile serves as a filter, ensuring that you attract only those who might be a good fit for you and keeping those who aren’t away. Here are some profile principles:
1. Write the profile to your ideal partner, not to the masses.
Writing a good profile begins by asking yourself a critical question: Who are you writing to? Most people make the mistake of writing to the masses of men or women online since that’s who’s going to read it. It’s logical to think, “There are hundreds or even thousands of people who are going to read this, so I want to write something that is widely appealing and gives a general feel for who I am and what I’m looking for.”
Read the very next sentence as if I was screaming it at you, because I am: That is exactly what you DON’T want to do!!! You don’t want to appeal to the masses; you want to appeal to just one person, your ideal partner. How to do that? Read on.
2. Express your depth.
Your profile needs to be personal, of a decent length (at least 300 words) and a real expression of your depth and heart. Remember: like attracts like. If you want a man or woman of depth, then your profile better be an expression of your depth. Your potential partner is online reading hundreds of profiles and most of them are silly, shallow drivel. He or she is looking for a special person, someone of depth. So show that part of yourself.
3. Be authentic
Your profile should reflect who you are. Talk about your favorite vacation spots, books, movies, hobbies and interests, and then go deeper. Tell them why these things are so meaningful to you. Open your heart. If something is a big deal in your life it should be reflected in your profile.
Tell them your exact age and don’t lie. It’ll come back to bite you. Tell them about your children (if you have them) and include their ages. If you don’t have kids but want them, definitely include that. If you want to get married (or not), say that. If religion is important to you, say that and describe why. Don’t withhold on any of the important stuff.
The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is definitely true when it comes to online photos. In other words, your pictures speak volumes about you (maybe more than what you’ve written), so give your pictures serious thought.
Both men and women should have a least two pictures posted. The first should be a very clear head shot. Let them see your face, not from a distance or in a group, but in a single, up-close head shot. The second should be a full-body photo taken in clothes that allow someone to see the basic shape of your body. (Not too revealing though.)
If you want to have other photos of you with your friends, your dog, your kids, etc., fine. But you must have these two photos and they must be recent. You should put up new photos every 3-6 months. If you show up for your first meeting and you don’t look like your photos, it’s over.
One of the things I do with my clients is review and (usually) overhaul their online profiles. If your love life is stuck, if your profile is attracting the wrong kinds of people (or no people at all!), then reach out to me. I offer a free 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in exploring a coach/client relationship.
If you’re having trouble “attracting lasting love,” online or in general, then don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Do something different. Ask for help. Email me at email@example.com or call me directly at 407-687-3387.
Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach, a TV personality, and the author of two books, the latest of which is the #1 best-seller, Attracting Lasting Love: Breaking Free of the 7 Barriers that Keep You Single. For the past 10 years, Roy’s mission has been supporting single people in the art of attracting and creating conscious, lasting relationships. He offers a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in working with him. You can learn more about him by visiting, www.coachingwithroy.com.