I was traveling recently, and met a couple who were clearly dating and seemed very much “in like” and heading towards “in love.” As I so often do, I started asking them all sorts of questions about how they met, and because of what I do, my interest was immediately piqued when they said they met through an online dating site!
My questions began in full force! How long have you been online? How many dates have you had? What’s your strategy for success? How did you know this person was worth a second date? A third date?
It was very interesting as they both had a very different approach and perspective.
He: I’ve been using online dating services for three years. I’ve been on 88 first dates (yes, he said, he’s been counting them). I’ve been on 24 second dates, and a few third dates. One relationship lasted about 3 months before I realized I didn’t see it going anywhere. I really want someone who shares my interests, and who loves the outdoors.
His approach has been to play the odds. He knows that the more first dates he goes on, the better chance he has to meet the right person. He is also very decisive. He says he doesn’t want to waste his time, or her time, if he knows from the beginning that his date is not going to be the right person for him. He’s respectful and kind, and he doesn’t lead anyone on.
She: “I was online a few years ago for a couple of weeks, but kind of freaked out at some of the responses I was getting, so quickly took down my profile. I’m a really private person (she later told me she doesn’t use any social media tools – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram). At the urging of some of my friends, I put up a new profile several months ago. I kept it really simple. All I did was write a blurb about what I like to do. I did not include a photo. Too personal!
Her approach was not to play the odds, but rather to be very selective in her approach. She didn’t want to go on a bunch of random dates with strangers. She’s far too private and introverted to find anything fun about that!
He saw her profile. They shared similar interests. She too, loves the outdoors. He reached out to her. They shared a few brief notes back and forth and decided they should meet for coffee. He didn’t ask, but she offered to send a photo.
She: I don’t want to have a long online communication history before meeting for a first date. I’m not interested in pages of emails and hours of phone calls before we meet. I would rather cut to the chase and have a real interaction. People can hide who they are via email and phone much more than they can face-to-face.
He: I agree! I would rather meet sooner rather than later and have a face-to-face conversation. We agreed that meeting for coffee would be an easy and safe way to meet for the first time. It wasn’t the “commitment” of meeting for dinner.
They met for coffee, and within a few minutes of getting their orders and sitting down, she suggested that they take their coffee and head outside to walk through a local park while talking! Perfect! They both love being outside and active. They walked and talked, and walked and talked, until it was time for her to get back to work. They returned to the coffee house and said their goodbyes.
He: I don’t play games. I couldn’t get her out of my mind and I knew I wanted to learn more! (This is from a guy who hadn’t moved past this first date with 88 other women!). The next morning, I called and asked her out for a second date. We decided to meet up after work the next day and go for another walk. I remembered her special order from when we met for coffee, and I stopped and grabbed coffee for us before we met to walk.
She: He remembered my order. That was a special touch. He paid enough attention to what I ordered, and he remembered. It’s the little things. Our second walk lasted well past dark. There’s something about walking and talking that just feels open and honest. Maybe it’s because you aren’t sitting staring at each other. It feels less vulnerable, or perhaps it allows you to be more vulnerable. I’m not sure which it is, but it works.
This couple was adorable. They clearly cared about each other, shared genuine interests, and seemed committed to trying to figure out how to make things work amidst the normal chaos of life. The reality is that both are divorced, both have children, both work full-time, and both live on opposite sides of a large city. All of this adds complexity to a new and budding relationship, but they were enthusiastic about doing all they can to make it work. I truly wish them the best of luck!
I summarized the key points I learned from this couple into 4 points that I put into a memorable word: DATE.
D: Be Decisive – Do what feels comfortable to you. Know what you want, and what you don’t. There is nothing wrong with being decisive about how you approach online dating. (e.g., he knew when it wouldn’t go further than a first date; she knew that she didn’t want a photo on her profile).
A: Be Attentive – Pay attention to what the other person is sharing with you, not just via their words, but also via their behaviors. It says a lot, and is a great way to show you are “listening” (e.g., he remembered her special coffee order).
T: Be Talkative – This couple believed that “talking” (actual talking!) is critical, and means so much more than communicating via email, text or telephone. Technology is great (we wouldn’t have online dating without it!), but there is a real need for real conversation if you are truly going to get to know someone.
E: Be Enthusiastic – Recognize that dating and growing a new relationship isn’t always easy, especially as adults with a full plate of life already served up in front of them. A good dose of enthusiasm is necessary to navigate over the inevitable obstacles and challenges that will rise up!
About the Author:
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.