This week, I tried online dating for the first time.
I didn’t want things to come to this, because I always thought that online dating was for creepers and ugly people, but my friends elbowed me to give it a shot. So when I got a message from a guy last weekend asking if I’d be down for meeting up, my friend said I should go.
“But shouldn’t I talk to him some more before agreeing to see him?” I asked.
“Just go meet him in person and see what he’s like,” she said, and she knows her shit, so I took her advice and arranged a date at the end of the week.
As I sat in the coffee shop waiting for him, I fidgeted nervously and hoped to God he’d leave me hanging so that I could go shopping instead. When he finally sat down at my table, I was pleasantly surprised. He was quite good-looking! Not creepy! Normal! We ended up talking for around an hour before I had to go, but that hour changed my views on online dating.
So, how does one get around to finding a good date online? It all starts with the profile. Think of yourself as a product and market yourself well by showcasing the things that make you awesome. I skip all the profiles that are badly written and don’t say anything unique. And, being that online dating is essentially a meat market, it helps to have a flattering photo. If you pick a photo where you’re doing something fun or interesting, people will be more likely to message you with something other than, “Nice eyes!” Which brings me to...
The guys who just send me messages complimenting my looks. Ugh, I never respond to those. I am very appreciative of compliments, but there are cooler things to notice about me than just my looks. What about my good taste in music and films, or my love of cheese? Choose one thing that made the person stand out, be it because you have that in common or you just find it interesting, and message them about it.
One thing I see people do when they try online dating is getting picky. It is easy to get too discriminating when you can literally compare two guys side-by-side, but try to avoid it. Take advantage of the fact that you have access to people so different from you that you’d never cross paths in real life and date outside of your comfort zone. At worst, you will be incompatible and part ways, and at best you will mesh well or get an interesting friend out of it.
What about the people you message who don’t respond, or the ones you go out with once or twice and then go MIA? These things are a part of dating, but my friends agreed that you bump into a lot more frustrating situations when dating online, if only because you are exposing yourself to more options. Know that the guy or girl you’re going on a date with is probably going on dates with other people. As a friend put it, “Online dating is not like dating in real life,” and that calls for an attitude adjustment. Don’t let these setbacks get to you, and don’t take shit personally. Especially when you’re dealing with people you don’t know.
And now that I’ve pointed out that you are, indeed, going out with strangers, I’ll take the moment to suggest exercising common sense. When dating in real life, most of the times you’ve either met the person before, or a friend is setting you up. A complete stranger comes with no credentials, so keep your eyes open for any sharp ends. If you feel uncomfortable, bounce. Also, meet in a public spot, and avoid bars unless you keep an eye on your drink all the time and trust yourself not to get wasted. Coffee is a safe, standard date.
But I think the best advice my friends passed on when I was trying this was to not be ashamed of “putting myself out there.” In 2010, a lot of interactions that used to take place face-to-face have moved online, so online dating is not as unnatural as we’d think. A lot of the stigma surrounding online dating has to do with how different it is from what we’re used to, but I do believe it is worth at least a shot. Going into it with a positive attitude, rather than being embarrassed to be “discovered” by people you know, will yield far better results. So be positive, keep an open mind, and have fun with it!
M. is a junior in Course 10, and she’s found a few of her TAs doing online dating. Awkward! She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.