Several years ago, my best friend met a man in an online chat room. She approached him because he used his real name as his user name, not some jumble of random words and numbers. They met, got along really well and decided to go on a trip together. Her family and I were shocked and we demanded to meet him. I wanted to be able to identify him to the authorities because I was convinced that he would kill and bury her in some sadistic love ritual. In hindsight, I feel very foolish for my overreaction. But this was in the earliest days of online dating, before the pay sites existed, when there was still a lot of mystery about the whole operation.
These days online dating is so common, the only person who hasn’t met someone on the internet is someone who doesn’t use a computer. Yes there are the popular websites where you answer a hundred questions about yourself and get paired up with people who share similar interests. Many of these sites have a fee, which is good because it shows you are committed. You know exactly what you’re getting into. However, Facebook is giving these online dating services a run for their money by giving it away. Whatever service you subscribe to, it is indisputably quite an adrenaline rush to see your inbox fill up with messages from available suitors.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts of online dating and dating in general. ALL are based on true stories.
- Be willing to go on a date with someone you wouldn’t expect to be attracted to. Opposites do attract. It works for magnets, so it can work for you too. Please leave your superficial hang-ups at home. This is reality, not a fantasy.
- Please take a shower and wear clean clothes. This is a no-brainer. Hygiene is very important when you’re making a first impression. Men: unless you are a mechanic and can fix my car or scooter, your hands should be clean. If you have dirty fingers, you must do something about it! You won’t be touching anyone but yourself, for the 7,469th time.
- Meeting for coffee is a good idea. That way, you don’t spend too much money and have less of a time commitment if you are not interested and want to get away quickly.
- Be yourself. If you are painfully shy, do some research on conversation ice-breakers. Meeting someone for the first time is awkward enough on it’s own. Your interest in Dungeons & Dragons might not make your date swoon like you’d hoped.
- Don’t show up for your date completely drunk. This is not a true representation of who you are. If you are nervous, that’s normal. You can pick a place that serves alcohol and get a drink when you get there. Alcohol will mess with your inhibitions and you may end up with a one-night stand instead of a meaningful connection.
- Don’t keep repeating how nervous you are. If this is the first time in your life you have ever met a stranger for a date, you are allowed to say you’re nervous once or twice. More than that is just annoying.
- Don’t take your first date to a family function or a group meet-up. A girlfriend took her date to a family get together, where he got drunk, made out with her mom and sucker punched her uncle. She was subsequently un-invited from future family functions. Don’t let this happen to you. It’s funny but it’s also sad. Really, really sad.
- Don’t lie about your age or some other key part of your life. Misrepresenting yourself online to meet people is deceitful. If the truth comes out, they’ll be weary of trusting you, and wonder what else you’re lying about. Your wife and kids will eventually come up in conversation. This is a very bad way to start a relationship.
So quit procrastinating or making excuses and get some dates. It never hurts to try. Take advantage of the eHarmony free communication event, happening from October 1 – October 10. You only have six more days and nights to get the hook up, so buy a pound of coffee, don’t sleep, and get on it.
Dr. Anita Appelbaum is a certifiable, if self-trained, doctor of love, lust and of those things often found to resemble amour. She takes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org