Online dating. It’s a thing. But who knew it was suuuuuccchhhhh a thing?! I swear less than five years ago I thought this was reserved for folks who literally could not get a date to save their lives. Those who seemingly were at the point of ‘I-have-no-choice-but-do-this/last resort status.’ Now however, it’s as normal as choosing between the meat selection at Wegmans and the produce aisle at Aldi. Technically, it’s all food—some considered high quality and some will spoil within the hour—but hey, gotta eat, right?
I’ve never been big on clubs. Much like most singles, I visited the local spot with my homies, held up a corner of the bar or a table until I could no longer shun the advances of men I had absolutely no interest in talking to beyond that night. I could usually resist having to dance with them through engaging in conversation, but in those moments when I ventured out onto the dance floor, my tried and true two-step was an acceptable substitute to the slow drag. On those rare (and I do mean rare) occasions when someone with potential approached me, I floundered through small talk until we exchanged numbers and went on our merry ways for the night.
Enter the new age of online dating. I don’t know how this way of choosing a boo became so popular but it’s here and nearly 50 million people have found themselves ebbing and flowing within its tides, including me. Most days it can be interesting, funny, even weird. In fact, it’s easily one of the most quickly misconstrued, awkward, and glorious ways of dating ever created. I’m smack dab in the middle of it. Very regularly. With no regrets.
Aside from the excitement of the automatic attention (and I’m talking from real potentials, not hookie-doo with the gold tooth), there are of course, pros and cons to this dating phenomenon. The ultimate pro being the possibility of finding long lasting, amazing, love. The cons on the other hand, grow by the day—and they never cease to amaze me.
First, there are so many sites to choose from. Based on interests, much like the days of being in the club, there is a site designated for everyone: people of color, Christian, gay, straight, young, mature, farmers, shoot, I think I even saw a site for clowns once—and that was actually pretty scary. Point is, it doesn’t matter if the interest is widely popular or seemingly pin-pointed, there are groups dedicated to the same inklings, with the hopes of finding a match amongst themselves. If I’ve learned anything through the online dating craze, I’d say it gets easier to sift out fakers. And I’ve come up with a few good pointers…want to hear ‘em? Here they go:
Profile information—there’s a fine line between piquing someone’s interest and sending them running for the hills. A nice intro paragraph strikes a balance between showing an honest, yet mysterious side, enough to start and keep a conversation going. The accompanying pictures (yes, there should definitely be more than one pic) needs to be a mixture—one close up with a nice smile (preferably with a little teeth), one on location (maybe an easily recognizable vacation spot?), one in clothing that looks fantastic, and a full body shot. Extra points for at least one action picture like running a race, horseback riding, or rock climbing. HA! Pictures NOT to include: those with other people or kids, pictures with b*tchy resting face or at the club with drinks in hand. On the flip side, when looking through others’ profiles—don’t take anyone seriously who doesn’t smile in ANY of their pics, always posts selfies from the bathroom or their car, or the shot is so far away a clear view of their face can’t be seen.
Connecting—take as much time as needed solidifying initial connections in order to feel comfortable. If the conversation is flowing and taking it offline feels like a natural next step, go for it. If not, wait until the time is right. Don’t feel obligated to move to phone conversation or even a face to face meeting unless chemistry is present. Don’t be rushed because the person pursuing asked right away (some will ask in the introduction). Some people exchange numbers within days, even hours, while others take a few weeks—again, go at the pace the works for the situation. Opposite: don’t be afraid to stop a conversation immediately if it’s going in an uncomfortable direction. The beautiful thing about phones—they can block people. I’ve stopped someone mid-sentence before and hung up with no second thoughts.
Hit ‘em up—talking on the phone for the first time is kind of a big deal. It can be a make or break situation. I’m usually pretty nervous and I have this crazy little cough that always rears its ugly head—but I know it’s my nervous tick and I work on it. What if the person of interest has a high pitched or squeaky voice that in no way matches their looks? What if they breathe heavily while talking? What if they’re just…weird? It happens, so decide how to respond and maintain that stance throughout. For example, I have an aversion to men with soft, ‘Smokey Robinson-like’ voices. Now, I love Smokey—but he’s 77 and I’m not trying to date him. Nothing wrong with men who sound like him, they’re just not for me. I’m also not checking for Barry White’s twin either. So I need a man with a firm, yet balanced voice that will capture and hold my attention. In times when the type of voice I like has not been present, I’m polite enough to finish the initial conversation, but afterwards, I’m blocking that number. Quickly. I have nothing for him. Sorry, I just don’t.
Other reasons I will block after the initial convo—saying hateful/disrespectful things about God (he gots to know and love Jesus); also saying hateful/disrespectful/violent things about women, family, his ex-wife/baby mama (particularly for men who have children), being combative, talking about sex, or talking so much about himself that he has no concept of me at all, like I didn’t get a word in edgewise. Lastly, sending me a d*ck pic after our first conversation. Now really good sir????? Is that necessary? I’m not a hater…I just don’t want unsolicited pictures after hearing someone’s voice one time. Give me a while on that one! Honorable mention here: I usually will block someone if he tries to carry on more than two full blown conversations with me through text and it’s not during work hours. I’m over 40; I’m okay with texting while my availability is limited, but that is usually short, sweet and to the point. Anything longer or repeated daily through text from someone “trying to get to know me”…I don’t take him seriously.
Meet & Greet—much like the phone number exchange, this can be as quick or slow as desired. Keep it simple. A quick drink at Starbucks; an hour or so together at a favorite happy hour spot will suffice for a first meeting. I’m not a fan of going Dutch, although I know many women who prefer it. Having enough cash on hand to cover what I consume is a practice I began long ago, so (ALTHOUGH I SERIOUSLY SIDE EYE A MAN THAT LET’S ME PAY), solo is always an option!
Getting together like this is a great opportunity to gauge the chemistry. I love sitting at the bar for meet and greets because we’re able to sit in quite close proximity and it allows me to get an idea of how the man I’m with is enjoying my company, along with how he interacts with other folks around us. Do we capture each other’s attention, or am I thinking of my grocery list? Is he looking at every other woman that passes by and I’m cutting my eyes at the dude at the end of the bar? Are either of us making extra trips to the bathroom? Only one way to find out and that’s being in each other’s presence. If he’s rude to the bartender or another patron sitting near, it’s seen right away. It’s a great way to measure the comfort level, chemistry (or lack thereof), and get a feel for whether or not my date is someone I want to see again. Flipside: There are ways to leave when it doesn’t feel safe, appropriate, or worth the time. If EVER a date is going south and getting out needs to be handled discreetly (as opposed to just walking the heck out!), there is a distress signal most, if not all bars, have recently put in place. Order an “Angel Shot,” one of the three ways: Neat and the bartender will gladly serve as an escort to your car, With Ice to have the bartender call Lift or Uber, or With Lime for a call to be made to the police.
Once the meet and greet happens the sky really is the limit. It can be the start of a whirlwind romance with endless nights of phone convos and fun dates, a short fling, the early stages for a life-long friendship, or back to the virtual swiping board! Regardless, learn to enjoy each phase for exactly what it is, be authentic in needs and intentions, and have fun!
Until next time,