Reader Question

I have recently joined an online dating site and have been amazed to find myself much more “popular” than expected. I am deluged with choice, have been on a few dates and feel very confused as to who to move forward with… if anyone?

Answer

First of all congratulations! It sounds like you are a kid in a sweetshop, which must feel great, but choices choices…

1) So what are you looking for? And by this I mean two things:
a) What does your profile say you are looking for (this will affect the size and quality of responses you are getting – e.g. if you’ve left your profile very general then perhaps it looks like you are keeping your options open, and you’ll certainly get a very general response, which might just blow up your inbox!) So read the profile from a potential partners shoes, – ask yourself what the profile says about you – because profiles are the only way things can get filtered online. If your profile says you are playing a “game” you will attract players; if it says you are entering into the process as a cynic, you will have a negative experience, if it says you just want to have fun …
b) What are you REALLY looking for? Are you clear? By this I don’t mean the “list” of criteria you have (brown eyes, short, with a scar above left eye etc.) or the “nono’s” (e.g. not like my ex, not too young etc. etc.) I mean what are your values ? What is it that you want to find inside the wrapping? (and no I don’t mean their clothes!) It’s great to be open minded about the wrapping, but not about the values, so my point is this: unless you are clear on what you want, how can you decide whether to set up a date with a Bonbon or a Humbug (or both) ?!.

2) ENJOY the process.

There is no failure in the process of online dating – only learning.

Many people see online dating as a test. “Am I attractive ? Do I come across well ? Do I have good instincts around people? Am I destined to find love?”
This level of judgement (often before you have even had a date!) causes huge and unnecessary pain. So let’s look at the process in a different way. Instead of putting yourself under pressure to find the right person or get lots of interest, how about you approach the whole experience as an opportunity to learn more about YOU and what you want (think refining and honing your profile as per point 1 above). Online dating is actually an online training course, which will teach you to become an expert in understanding and communicating about yourself (what you really want, and who you really are). Aside from learning there are some other great side benefits: meeting new people, trying new restaurants, going to new places, networking etc. Remember, you cannot “fail” at dating, what you can always do is learn from the experience and adjust for the next time !
3) Manage your time and energy, and trust your gut

With so much choice, you need to put a system in place to help you stay productive and positive:
1) Switch off your notifications, and set aside one hour each evening to look through the profiles and responses.
2) Be open yet selective: Keep an open mind on the wrapping (must haves in terms of appearance can often be red herrings) but keep a keen eye on the messages and values (are in tune with yours?)
3) Just do it: Don’t hide behind time-wasting messaging, get to the next stage of communication (whether a phone or meeting) as quickly as you can to allow your gut some space to decide on what to do next. If you feel a possible true connection, make the decision to meet and do it. Remember you have nothing to lose and everything to learn.

So if dating online is a sweetshop (and life is a box of chocolates), pick a sweetshop you like the look of. Walk in with a clearly written list of what you want (bonbons!) and look for them, and when you find them, walk right up to them with a smile on your face and introduce yourself. Finally, take the time to stop and enjoy trying a couple of new flavours, because you may just find out that strawberry isn’t your favourite flavour after all!

I hope that was helpful, and that you enjoy yourself immensely!

And if you’ve come across this article and it resonates with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts
Freya