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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Online Dating

Online dating.... those 2 words either make your skin crawl or you're one of the tens of millions using the internet to try and find Mr or Mrs Right.

I have some thoughts...

People have been dating since Adam and Eve. Its a natural thing that people do to see if they will make a great couple. It's not like we can consult a comparison or read reviews about this unknown homo sapien. Dating is the process of elimination. The game changed somewhat with the dawn of personal computers.

It used to be that people met in school, church, through friends, the bowling alley or depending where you live, family reunions . There was no profile to fill out, no monthly fee to pay, and no mail to answer. Unfortunately it also was not so easy to mingle with the opposite sex from outside your own circle. The options one had to choose a mate were much less than we have today. You made the best with what you had and dealt with it.

Times have changed.

In addition to all the old ways, many of us single people meet online. It is convenient, easy, enlightening, and if you use common sense, as safe as meeting at the bookstore. The media slobbers all over itself when a case comes up that someone was hurt (or worse) through the use of various internet outlets. Headline-grabbing doesn't serve the public at all when the message is not accurate. There are good and bad in everything, Match.com included. With the sheer number of human beings involved, there will be awful stories. It shouldn't be confused as the CAUSE if something sad happens.

The facts are, more people are finding the internet a viable option to meeting someone. The result may or may not last forever. We all know of couples who have been together for decades and, after the breakup, the dejected one says “I didn't even KNOW him/her after all these years!”. They may have met at Starbucks, at the gas station, or the flea market. Would you ever hear about it or take note? Mention the internet however, and the imagination runs wild!

I've met people from far away places by first chatting online. This was a program that enabled you to “talk” to someone over the internet. Yahoo, MSN, and AOL were the most common brands when I used them. I've also met people that lived close, and people I would not have met otherwise by first chatting online. Of course, I've met people at the grocery store, the DMV, restaurants, the Dr's office, work, playing tennis, neighbors, from friends, at the barber, and the bowling alley as well, but they are ANOTHER story!

I found chatting not only interesting, but exciting as well. Getting to know someone from tapping a keyboard is a bit different than talking on the phone. In the old days, auto-correct was not a function of the messenger so you could see how good of a speller the other person was, which is HIGHLY underrated! Forming coherent and complete sentences is not only telling about one's intelligence level, but of how a person thinks as well. The depth of a potential more-than-a-friend is important to ME, so I want to see what goes on in someone's head and how they express it. That way when I ask, “What's on your mind?” I won't get “nothin” as an answer on a regular basis! THAT makes for a very short conversation, and no chance for a relationship....

You never know, in any conversations, if the other person is telling the truth. I assume most people don't lie. There are many stories to the contrary. My experience has only involved one less-than-honest person, and she was still terrific otherwise. If you don't get caught up in the heat of the moment, AND you pay attention, most folks who bend the truth make obvious mistakes. You just have to look for them. It's OK to trust, but trust with caution.

Besides chatting, there are other advantages to internet introductions. Pictures, while an easy way to lie to folks, can whittle down the possibilities quickly. The only purpose is to give a stranger an idea what you look like. We all need to be physically attracted. No matter what anyone says, looks DO MATTER! Sorry guys, but if you look like a frog, you probably WON'T get kissed by the princess. Also consider the image you want to introduce to strangers.. No one knows anything about you. This will be the first impression. Do you STILL want them booty shots on there for all to see? Do you want to show ALL your cleavage if you don't like provocative comments? If you don't have your front teeth, you still better smile for the camera! Using fake or misleading pictures is fine for starting conversations, but what happens when you meet?

Most dating sites require you to set up a profile that will allow folks who don't know you, a glimpse of who you are. Some people take a good amount of time to say what they want to say, others think it's a chore. What it is is an opportunity to give someone a realistic overview of you so they can figure out if they want to know more. It's that simple. Some profiles have very little to read and the reason most cases, is they don't know what to say. I don't get it. YOU know YOU better than anyone! It should be the easiest thing to say. Yet, for many people, it is too hard to do at all. I think they miss out on potential matches by their lack of effort.

Included with most profiles is a list of who you are and what traits you are looking for. I don't know about you, but a list doesn't make a person. Yes, there are certain things we ALL hope to find – honesty, respect, integrity, and many others I'm sure. I feel like this. If your better-half MUST be included in your hobby, list it. If they MUST be aware of your lifestyle, list it. If not, then I believe it's better to just observe how that person is when they are standing in front of you rather than taking their word for it. Withholding will also not help those dishonest bastards that will lie to get whatever they can get. If you don't tell them exactly what makes your heart flutter, they will have to pretend to be what they THINK you are searching for. Let them find out on their own!

Having actual conversations forces you to talk and, if interested, ask questions. Not the dumb ones like “What's your favorite noodle?”. Not the sexual ones like “Can I see your muffin?”. Not even the religious questions like “Which commandment do you enjoy breaking most?”. I'm talking about normal topics that show how a person truly feels. The right kind of banter can make (or break) a pending relationship easily. All you have to do is talk....

There certainly is a convenience to using the internet as a way to meet folks. It might be the most popular reason people use it. Night or day, it's always on and available to search profiles and see who is out there looking. Seems we are always busy doing things, so isn't it nice that we have a way of connecting to equally busy members of the opposite sex? The dark side of this is the overwhelming availability of smiling faces. Match.com, Zoosk, Eharmony, and many other sites offer you thousands of smiles to choose from. Local or long-distance, different races, ages, backgrounds, variety rules.

I think we can all agree having too much of a good thing, isn't good. Too much dessert, vacation, whatever you choose, is less enjoyable and less appreciated if there is an overabundance. Same with single people. A lot of folks will not invest time in anyone if the slightest little hiccup occurs. This gets frustrating when you are on the wrong side of the decision. We seem so disposable that it affects how we look at people in general. Why should we take the time to wade through the “getting-to-know-you” stage when there are soooooo many new faces we are attracted to?? Why should I talk to someone who is 5'6” and carry a few extra pounds when I prefer tall and athletic??? Blondes are ignored when I like to be with brunettes. Maybe you want to experiment. There's an endless supply of single folks waiting to be contacted. All it takes is a click after you pay your $29.99.

That's another advantage. The fact that EVERYONE is looking. The internet allows you to look day AND night, as finding that special someone is very important and more preferred than staying single. It can seem so daunting that most people have a significant other in their life. Married couples, for the most part, wear that status proudly on their ring finger, making it easy to ignore them for dating purposes. Not so easy is seeing someone at the store that you want to say something to, and not knowing if they are available. It keeps many people from saying anything. Ask 10 people and the odds say that 8 of them will be in some kind of relationship. The other two may or may not be open to anything beyond being polite. That is an awful lot of “no's” to hear, just for an opportunity to talk, let alone, date. Lots of guys find it hard to accept the rejection. Maybe that is why you ladies make the guys take the first step. Just know it gets to us after a while dealing with all the I-have-someone's, get-away-from-me's, the screams for police, and the restraining orders. We ARE sensitive after all....

When you want to meet people outside your regular circle, how would you do it? You don't have to ask friends anymore since the internet opens up, not only the neighborhood, but the world. Not everyone closes the door at 50 miles. There are some good aspects of having some distance between you. Conversations are different when you can't just drive over to hang out. Anticipation is hard to duplicate. It is a real test of the level of attraction if you can survive limited time spent with person. It also, like everything else, has a down side. The freedom will test your patience and trust. How do you know there isn't a wife/girlfriend waiting for them at home? How do you know their search ends with you? How do you know they aren't in prison?

Common sense will tell you, IF your eyes aren't in the clouds.

Normal relationships have no limits on when you talk, how you chat, and how long you speak. If it seems fishy that most of your conversations are texts, end quickly, or only happen when they are alone, it SHOULD make you sit up and take notice. Listen to the warning buzzers going off! A cute butt or a nice smile is not enough!

Yes, even in this decade, some people are NOT internet friendly. There are many who have no home computer at all. This limits ways you might meet, or it weeds out those you don't want to know more. It depends on the importance of technology in your life. Would it be a burden or no problem?

You can narrow the type of online users down to two: those that want to meet asap (they don't want to waste time with someone they don't have “chemistry” with) and those that want to take it slow, get to know you through chatting, then talking on the phone, and THEN maybe a meeting. There is no correct answer to which is best. It comes down to what makes you comfortable. If you have perspective daters that seem impatient, you better question why. They are not compassionate in the beginning. How do you think they will be later?

Screening tools can be anything, obviously, you just have to use them. I'm not talking about criminal backgrounds or credit checks, although when things get more serious, they certainly have a function. I'm talking about the less-obvious. Is their profile still up? Have you met any of their friends? Are they easy to contact? Is there any chance they are married? How do they treat strangers? Do they make you comfortable enough to allow you to be YOU? Are they the same in person as in the previous conversations? Red flags are red for a reason! Take notice. The internet is only a way to meet. It doesn't have any built-in protection, no matter what the dating site says.

Obviously, when you meet the first time, you do it in a public place. If sparks fly, you can always extend it, move it, or change it. I'm sure you have had times when you meet a stranger that quickly seems like an old friend. There's no explaining it or faking it. It just is. Some poor folks confuse this with finding a “soul mate”. Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing if they are Charles Ingalls or Charles Manson, unless you keep your eyes open and let some time go by. In the movies, it only takes an hour and a half to go from stranger to soul mate. In the real world, it usually takes a bit more time....

Once you spend a little time together, HOW you met becomes irrelevant. Hopefully, “forever” won't seem like enough time to get to know this wonderful, warm, and willing person. If not, enjoy the moment, don't torture yourself, and realize that it's not so easy to find someone to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe the next one will be the last....


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