Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Online Dating

You’ll be amazed at the reaction of people when you bring up Online Dating in polite conversation. There are tons of perfectly intelligent people who are still fearful of and totally against it, even though we probably all know happy couples who met this way.

Meeting someone online is just as legitimate a way to meet as any other. Yes, you might meet a nutcase, but you can meet nutcases sitting right next to you in the movie theater. It would be nice if we could all meet people who were carefully screened and chosen for us by life long friends, but how many friends do we have and how many single people do they know that would be our types? Once you’ve met the one or two folks that your friends want to set you up with, you are then are left to your own devices.

Another traditionally accepted way of meeting is through church or face-to-face while out and about. Come on. Most people who meet regularly in a setting like a church, or at work, or your neighborhood gay gatherings are less inclined to get involved – only because you’ll continue bumping into this person if things don’t work out.

Just as a natural extrovert has the advantage in social settings, there are certain types of people who have the advantage online. People who can type quickly and express themselves eloquently in print are going to do better than those who can’t put a grammatically correct sentence together to save their lives.

An advantage to meeting online is that you can share a great deal of information about each other before The Physical gets in the way. You know what I mean – the physical attraction, the magnetic draw or repulsion, the flirting. Once that sets in, communication can rapidly shut down. That’s how you end up involved with someone for a year before you find out about their arrest record, or political affiliation, or former cult membership. It truly just never came up.

So take a chance on online dating. Sites I recommend are tangowire.com, match.com and butch-femme.com. And be understanding if your new pen-pal doesn’t want to give you their phone number right away. They aren’t hiding behind their keyboard or secretly married or something like that, they may just want to get to know you for awhile first.

But before you get started, here are a few personal guidelines I follow to make the experience as safe and user friendly as possible:

  • Set firm boundaries. Don’t let people encroach upon your life any faster than you’re comfortable with.
  • Don’t rush things once you do meet. Keep in mind that an initial meeting is a First Date. Remember your last unsuccessful first date? What if had lasted for 5 days and the two of you had to share a hotel room? Plan accordingly.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. Chances are you'll have to meet a lot of people before you find someone you could really get serious about.
  • Don’t take it personally if people write for awhile and then drift away. It’s hard to keep chatting with someone long distance unless the two of you find a way to truly connect. Periodically keep in touch with those that have drifted.
  • If you plan a vacation somewhere, don’t hesitate to seek out women in that area for a date or two. Take advantage of your travels to meet as many people as possible. But don’t travel just to meet someone - too expensive. Initially, let them come to you.
  • As always when dating someone new, arrange to meet in a neutral, well-lit place. A coffee shop in the daytime is always good. If you hit it off, you can suggest continuing the date at a restaurant.
  • Pace yourself. Successful long distance relationships require patience. If I’m talking to someone new who proclaims that they don’t think they can get through the next weekend without me, I know this person will burn out quickly and not be able to go the distance.

Last of all, remember that even if you’ve really hit it off online and by phone, all bets are off until you actually meet face to face. Until you look at them, hold them and smell them, you just won’t know if there is really anything there to build on. Attraction is a very finicky mistress.






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