When I started the whole online dating thing, I would write about all of my experiences in my journal. Every detail of how it went and my reactions went down in that notebook. I was sitting here flipping through old entries and debating transcribing some of them here. Unfortunately, they’re sporadic and filled with random thoughts in between so I figured, screw it. Instead, I will use my experiences to give my personal advice on making a connection through online dating.
- Get to know the person you’re going to meet up with. – Now I know, it’s hard to really get to know someone just through talking through text, blah blah blah, but unless you want a multitude of gaps in conversation and that awkward feeling in the back of your neck that you sooooo don’t want to be there, give it a shot. Know what the other person is looking for and get a sense of their personality. I suppose if you’re just looking for a one night stand then it really doesn’t matter much but that’s not what we’re here for, right? Now this isn’t fool-proof. I can recall one particular person I had great conversation with for weeks and upon our first date, he went into full-on conspiracy theorist mode and would. not. stop. I found myself SCREAMING in my head “Shut up. Shut up. Just shut the fuck up I don’t caaaaaaaaaaaare” but I still played nice until the end of the evening where I pulled my fake-yawn-oh-look-at-the-time move. I don’t like being mean, it’s not my style, and just because I’m not into spending every waking moment wondering what’s really going on in Area 51 doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy – just not the guy for me. This brings me to my next point.
- Don’t take it so seriously. – Sure, if the stars align and you get lucky, you might just be having your first date with the person of your dreams! But in reality, that’s probably not the case. Any time I agree to meet up with someone I’m sure to make it known that I want to keep it casual. Not a date, I don’t think I can commit to a date with someone I don’t know. If I just think of it as drinks or dinner with a friend it takes a lot of the pressure off. What if there’s no physical attraction between the two of you? No problem if you’re only real concern is the possibility of a friend. If this makes them awkward and they insist it’s a date – they’re probably just looking for one thing. Be warned. Friendship is the basis of any good relationship.
- Go somewhere familiar. – As a girl in a new town when I first started dating again, this was pretty difficult for me. I had only been to a few local spots and I was eager to try new ones. The “dates” that I did go on in familiar places were much easier on my nerves. I had a comfort zone of sorts, knowing where the bathroom was, what the usual vibe was like, and there was always the possibility of seeing someone there you know just in case you need to be “rescued.”(Though this did backfire on me once.) If nothing else, you’ll be ensured that you like the food/drinks/vibe of wherever you are, even if the date doesn’t go so smoothly.
- Engage in REAL conversation. – I don’t know about you but I can’t stand small talk. How boring. Yes, I’m aware that it’s supposed to rain this week. I don’t give a shit what college is playing a game this weekend and no, I don’t want to talk about the new movies coming out. When I spend time with someone, I want to get to know them. Experiences, stories, why they love the things they do. Everyone has their own novel written of their lives and I promise you it’s so much more interesting than any television show because it’s real. Need some topics? Your favorite memory, where you’d like to live one day and why, what drives you most in life, your dream profession, what you’d do if you had no responsibilities. The list goes on and on. Make eye contact. Respond to the other person rather than simply replying with your own answer. Real conversation, folks. That’s where it’s at. People remember something that sticks out from the ordinary. Give them something unique to who you are to make you stick out in a crowd. (And please don’t let that one thing be some sort of sexual talent. You don’t want that stalker situation. Trust me.)
- Dedicate your attention to one person at a time. – I know it’s easy with OKC and Tinder and all that other crap to talk to a bunch of people at the same time. I’ve done it too. You’re looking for conversation and one person is unavailable so you talk with another in the meantime. While that’s all good and fine if conversation and friendship is all you’re looking for, when it comes time to actually broach the idea of dating someone, buck up and give them an honest chance. If you’re not dedicating your thoughts and time to that person, you’re not giving the relationship a chance to bud. You’ll compare them. You’ll get nit-picky about things that aren’t even a big deal. You may even get yourself caught up in a very nasty confrontation and lose the chance to maybe have something really good. Now I know we’re all guilty of talking to several people but here’s my advice. Keep everything light. Don’t commit to anything and when you do find someone that you truly enjoy spending time with, take those apps off your phone. Don’t even tempt yourself. It’s okay to be single until you’ve found the right one. It really is.
- BE YOURSELF. – This is the most important one. I haaaaaaate when people tell me what they think I want to hear. I can see through it and it pisses me off. If there’s any chance of us hitting it off, it has to be with who we really are – not some facade we make up so we can score that night. Grow up. I have no qualms with letting people know that I’m obsessed with space, I prefer marijuana over medications, I always have racquets and birdies in my car so I can play badminton at the drop of a hat and I cannot stand to even look at crushed velvet. It’s me. If someone doesn’t like it, they can move on. I’ve spent way too much time pretending to be interested in things that I’m not simply to fit in with my friends or partner. No more, I say! If someone wants to be with me, they have to know every bit of me.
- Be open. – Sometimes it’s hard to talk about personal experiences. As someone who used to bottle everything up, I know that very well. But have you ever spent time with someone who opened up about something deep and personal about themselves or their life? It creates an instant connection. Letting your guard down and exposing something that affected you greatly will help you seem human and relate-able. Maybe your honesty will help them finally get something off of their chest that they’ve been holding in themselves. That right there will form a bond. Whether it’s a bond that carries into friendship or something more, it’ll make a difference. Be genuine and unique. Please. PLEASE.
You can feel free to heed my advice or not. It’s your life. This is just what’s helped me. I don’t get anxious or nervous meeting people anymore because I condition myself for the experience. I’ve people watched enough in my life to know how to mirror personalities and quickly find comfort zones in conversations. I’m not going to go full on sailor mouth unless the other person seems comfortable with it. I’m not going to light a cigarette without asking if they mind first. Manners, folks. Be an adult.
Now to stop pretending to know what the fuck I’m talking about and figure out my own damn shreds of a love life.