Online Dating Tips
Online dating was created to make dating simple and more convenient.... but OMG it sure doesn't feel like it! What do you put on your profile? How often should you text a person? When do you ask to go on a date?
So many questions ... not a lot of answers.
I am sure that you are probably asking why a therapist would care. Well, let me tell you ... as a couples counselor and someone who works with individuals going through relationship issues, I know the importance of creating a good foundation for a relationship. That starts with the foundation you create for yourself before you even start dating.
Sounds hard to believe but let me tell you why, while also sharing some online dating tips. So either watch my video above or read below (I know that sounds demand-y LOL).
1. Find out what type of relationship you are looking for. This is essentially the first step in your dating process that is going to help you determine YOUR needs and wants. This is CRUCIAL because we often forgo what we want for other people. For example, if you are looking for a monogamous relationship but find that your potential partner only wants something casual, let's remember what YOU want.
Plus it also helps you determine what app is going to work for what you want and what
apps to avoid.
2. Balance out your profile. What you EXACTLY put on your profile is up to you, but I want to go over a few things to take into consideration. You want to make sure that you aren't putting TOO much of yourself online. Some things are privileged that things have to earn over time. Your potential partner needs to earn your trust and work to learn more about you. However, you don't want to put too little because it can be very off-putting. So it requires a balance to figure out what you are comfortable sharing with people that may never match with you.
In your balance, you want to also include what your needs and expectations are. We need to be HONEST and REALISTIC because down the line it can catch up to you if they don't really align to who you are or what you want. While we hear the phase "opposites attract" that isn't necessarily true. Most people want to find someone who is similar to us, not exactly alike but similar.
Along that same line with honest and realistic that also applies to your profile picture. Make sure it is recent picture that looks like you, because you don't want to get hurt if someone is disappointed when they see you in person and you also don't want to start off a relationship off with a fib ... aka a lie.
When creating a profile, create 2 - 3 different versions. Test each out to see how they do, what type of people they attract, and if it is aligning to what you want.
3. Have your friends and family look at your profile. This helps to bring in your resources and see how is going to be honest while also compassionate LOL. PLUS it gives you an opportunity to ask them what they think your best qualities are, which is always nice to hear!
4. Create guidelines about what you want your online dating experience to look like. Do you want to be open about speaking with more than person? In my personal opinion, it is good to keep your options open to see what is out there, how you like the app you are using and maybe how you can improve your texting skills.
While thinking about guidelines, it is also important to ask yourself "how long do I want to be texting someone before we go out on a date?" This is SUPER important. I listen to an AWESOME podcast by Nicole Byer called Why Won't You Date Me and she made a very important point that texting creates a lot of emotional intimacy, which is TRUE. You don't want to build up so much anticipation and vulnerability with no reward at the end. Not that the reward is always going to be a relationship, but at least you haven't put yourself too out there for nothing.
**Also if you are talking too much through text, you aren't giving yourself a lot to talk about in person.**
5. Don't Google a Person. You need to have boundaries when dating, but you also need to respect other people's boundaries. Allow them to share what they feel comfortable with. Plus also think about how it would feel if they did the same to you.
6. Go on a Simple First Date. By "simple" I mean like a coffee or drink date where you can leave if you aren't feeling comfortable. If you do something like a movie or dinner date, you kinda have to wait until those things finish before you can reasonably leave.
7. Allow for 2 - 3 Dates. Now I know that sounds pretty contradictory to my tip before because why would you leave a date if you aren't feeling comfortable? That is a valid point, but as someone who works with a lot of GREAT clients who suffer from anxiety, the first date may have been a bit intimidating. So allow them the opportunity to try again, but establish a limit if you really aren't feeling a vibe.
HOWEVER, the exception to this tip is if there is a safety issue. I will NEVER ask a person to put themself out there in a situation where their safety is at risk. So if something happened where you don't feel safe, then definitely cut it off.
8. Don't Ghost People. It isn't nice. Give them the curiosity to say that you aren't interested. Rejection hurts, but to be rejected and ghosted SUCKS!
9. Ask for a Date When Ready. Yes it can be anxiety provoking to ask for a date, but if you are really feeling it, it is good to see if it can go to the next level before putting yourself out there too much. Remember relationships, even casual dating, takes risk.
Now, if you aren't feeling it, you aren't obligated to go out with a person, but then it goes back to not ghosting people. Remember honest is important, even in situations where nothing is going to happen.
10. Still Practice Self-Care. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. You don't want to devote all of your free time to dating. Remember this is setting up a foundation for your future which will hopefully include a relationship. You want to make sure that you are setting up a standard that even in a relationship, you will still take time out for yourself, because you are important.
11. Know When to Take a Break. Dating can be hard and overwhelming. If you are finding that it is draining, it is important to take a break to breathe and maybe re-evaluate what is working. Maybe it isn't the right app. Maybe you may need to adjust your profile. You never know, but sometimes having a break can bring you some clarity.
12. Be Easy on Yourself. I know this is hard, but you have to be nice to yourself. Try your best to not take things personal, which I know sounds like BS, but sometimes it isn't about you (not saying it in a rude way). Sometimes it simply isn't the right fit, which is SAVING you from issues and BS in the future. Rejection sucks, but don't let it ruin the GREAT person that you are!
If you are looking for EXTRA tips about dating, I was a guest on the Funny Depressed People podcast where I talk MORE about dating, especially in 2020.
Written by: Jessica Jefferson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Owner of Cloud Nine Therapeutic Services. My passion is working with couples who need assistance in navigating life's transitions such as: newly engaged couples, divorcing couples, and couples becoming new parents. I help them utilize strengths within themselves and their relationship to overcome challenges and find peace.