I don’t know your story, or what has led you to choose dating online. Maybe you’re freshly single after a long relationship. Maybe you haven’t dated much at all. Maybe, like I once was, you’re just tired of people asking you if you’ve ever tried dating online and you want to be able to say: “Yes, actually, I have.”
Some of my best moments have come as a result of dating online, as well as some of my most challenging. But that’s dating, isn’t it? It’s always a little challenging (and a little nerve wracking) to put yourself in combination with another person and see what happens. There is only so much you can know from a profile, a few pictures, even from staying up late texting or talking on the phone.
I know it can be hard to take that final step: meeting in person. What if your chemistry isn’t the same over coffee as over the internet? But what if it is? What if you’re just a step away from seeing the person you’ll want to be your person?
But there’s more to it than that. If the connection isn’t there, don’t you want to know sooner than later? Don’t you want to move on to another match who might be the right one for you, and let your match do the same?
Plus, I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty easy for me to get attached to someone, even over messages or texts. I get used to them being in my life, and when things don’t work out, I’m shattered. When I meet someone sooner, I protect myself from at least some of that disappointment.
By all means, wait until you feel good about meeting in person. If you’re getting a weird vibe, or you’re just not feeling it, don’t feel obligated to meet at all. But if you think there’s a chance, why not schedule a date? You’ll never know if you don’t take a leap of faith.
On that note, when you meet someone and you don’t want to go on a second date, it’s okay to tell them that. You don’t owe them another meeting. You owe them honesty and respect. Sure, it’s hard to hear that someone isn’t as into you as you are into them, but most guys would rather hear it up front than be strung along. Set them free to find their true love, and go find yours.
I like to listen to my friends tell stories of how they got together, mostly because it gives me hope. A lot of my friends met online. None of them are supermodels or anyone famous. They are real people: funny and interesting, sweet and quirky. I know it can be tempting to think you need to change yourself so that someone will want to date you, but it’s just not true (and eventually, who you really are is going to come out anyway). One of these days, whether scrolling through your profile, or chatting with you in person, someone is going to say: “Whoa, this woman is amazing.” Those things that you thought might make you less attractive often end up being the things your partner likes about you the most, or so I hear.
It can be tough out there, I know. Sometimes you’ll likely get discouraged. There will be lots more first dates than second dates, or you won’t feel much like going out on first dates with any of your options. It’s okay to take a break from time to time.
Sometimes, when I’m really focused on dating, I forget to pay attention to myself. I forget to do things just because I like them, like walking through my local park as spring starts to bloom. I forget to buy myself kiwis just because I like to have them with breakfast. I forget that I love a good Jane the Virgin marathon, or an evening drinking wine with my friends. When I’m feeling stuck in any area, sometimes it helps to give it a rest and reconnect with what makes me, me.
On a break from dating, or, perhaps even more important, while you’re dating, don’t forget that you can date yourself. You know just what you like to do. You know that you’d love to go to a movie, any one you like. You know your favorite lunch or coffee shop. Put all that knowledge to use and take yourself on regular dates. After all, you’re very good company, who wouldn’t want to date you?
Perhaps most of all, I hope you don’t lose heart. Sometimes I look around and realize that most of my friends are happily coupled up. It’s easy to wonder if it will happen for me, or if I’m only dreaming. Maybe statistics calm you down: most people eventually find partners. The odds are ever in your favor. But more than that, it’s clear that you care about this aspect of your life. You’re learning to be kind to yourself and to embrace the things that make you, you. Isn’t that exactly what you’d have to do for a partner?
I hope the man of your dreams comes along soon, but until then, remember that you are precious and beloved already, no waiting required.
Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook or at www.carastrickland.com.