Dating is a rollercoaster, and online dating even more so. It can be exhilarating and exciting, and lead to all sorts of romantic possibilities. But it can also bring rejection and disappointment, and be utterly soul destroying for those who aren’t emotionally robust to cope.
And so here are four tips for surviving online dating with your ego and sanity intact. These are not tips on dating etiquette, and they will not help you to find a man using Tinder, or to become the Most Popular Girl on RSVP. Trust me, there are plenty of web pages devoted to helping you find love online. But the internet can be a tricky world in which to play, and these pointers may help you negotiate the terrain whilst maintaining your mental health.
- Remember it is not personal. It really, truly isn’t. You will be rejected by potential love interests for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. The man may not want kids, and you have kids, or he may want kids, and you don’t. He may have a have a particular dislike of women who work in finance/the arts/admin because of a previous negative experience with a woman in finance/the arts/admin. You may have a beautiful face that sadly reminds him of his despised Aunty Rita. You may write something in a perfectly lovely message that triggers a bad memory of his ex wife. Or he may just not be feeling any chemistry, which is also not your fault. Do not second guess yourself. Do not take it as a personal slight. Accept the rejection and move on with your head held high.
- Do not become emotionally invested in a person you barely know. You might think that you’ve seen the perfect man on RSVP and become fixated on securing a date with him. You might find yourself planning your future together and feeling anxious when he doesn’t call. Do not fall into the trap of making romantic assumptions. You cannot know a man is Mr Perfect from a few messages. You cannot be in love with someone you’ve just met. Yes, you can like the sound of someone, yes, you can like the look of someone, but keep it in perspective and don’t fantasize about the future with anyone until he has truly earned the right to be fantasized about.
- Never commit to more than a coffee or drink on the first date. You will generally know within thirty seconds of laying eyes on someone if there is any possibility of a spark, whether romantic or for friendship. And if there is not, you do not want to be stuck with a random stranger making awkward conversation for the next three hours. It is far easier to extend a date that is going well than to cut short a date that is going badly. Be cautious. Plan to keep it brief.
- Be yourself. Be ruthlessly yourself. There is often the temptation to try to be what you think the other person will want. But being someone you are not at the beginning of a relationship will commit you to that fraud if the relationship progresses. And there is nothing worse for self-esteem and stress levels than trying to maintain a façade. You will never be at peace in a committed relationship if you suspect your partner wouldn’t like the ‘real’ you. So be the real you from the very beginning and let the other person decide. It is far better to be rejected for being yourself than to be liked for someone you are not.