September 16, 2010

Here There Be Weirdos: How to Meet Great People Online

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

For every successful “I met my boyfriend online” story, there are probably one hundred hilarious, awful, or creepy stories to prove the adage, “Now I see why he looks for dates online.” While online dating is no longer taboo or even uncommon, it can still be very tricky to successfully maneuver (and with your optimism about dating still intact, no less).

Be truthful in your profile. If you hiking makes you wheeze and you would rather watch a Lifetime movie than a documentary, say so. Don't write what you think others will like. (Similarly, if not superficially, don’t post pictures which are, um, dishonest.) Wake up! As soon as you meet, that person will see the real you anyways (unless this is some wacky sitcom in which you hire an actor to play you on the date, because you accidentally bleached your hair the night before). When you finally meet, this person may not feel you are his or her type (it stings, I know, but that’s life) after all; not to mention, your date might be peeved that you lied.

Resist the urge to be snarky or apathetic. “Internet dating is so lame. I’m only doing this to shut your friends up.” Don’t worry. I get it and so does everyone else who reads your profile: you are embarrassed. You are ashamed that you are shopping online for a boyfriend like you shop for shoes. You worry that people will see you as one of the aforementioned cases of “why can’t she get a date in the real world?” Get over it. Millions of people date online, whether out of convenience, in an effort to save money, or as a way to connect with someone prior to physically meeting. Coming across as judgmental or bored on your profile will not wow anybody.

Be selective with whom you meet. Don't devalue your time or yourself by talking to people about whom you aren't stoked or interested. Rather than feeling obligated to talk to or meet with someone out of worry of seeming cold, politely decline. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time and theirs. Similarly, don’t feel pressured into continuing contact with pushy people. There seem to be a lot of them online.

Don't wait for others to contact you. Take the initiative and send them a note. If they are not interested, they will likely either ignore your message or gently turn you down (sometimes you will encounter jerks, but why let the bad manners of others bother you?). No harm, no foul. Try again.

Give it some time. You won’t meet Prince Charming right away. Hell, you may not even meet Prince Um-Okay for a while. Nevertheless, if you are serious about finding a relationship, you shouldn’t give up after the first bad date. Along those lines, if you start chatting with someone you like, don't rush into the first meeting. Keep up the conversation. Getting to know a person is the best way of ensuring the first date will go well, since you will have weeded out any incompatible people long before you ever meet up.

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