It’s official: everybody dates online these days. It’s our generation’s courtship! Why meet somebody at a bar when you can swipe right to photos of men in polo shirts, all posing at boat bars? To witness couples meeting IRL for the first time after dating online, watch Virtually In Love on Oxygen Tuesdays at 9/8c, then get in the action yourself by following the five steps below. How do you start a conversation? How do you know when it’s cool to meet in person? Read on...
1. . Make An Honest Profile
I never understand why people lie about things that can easily be confirmed in under a minute. So don’t lie on your dating profile. If you put an old picture of yourself, and then somebody meets you, they will be able to tell it’s an old picture of you. If you write you like being outdoorsy and then somebody asks you to hike and you say “I don’t own sneakers,” they’ll be like “this person is a weird liar.” Don’t sell yourself by writing or putting up pictures of things you think people will want to see. Make a profile that shows the best parts of you, that represents all the things about yourself that you love, and would attract the kind of person you are hoping to find.
Oh, and keep it short. Ain’t nobody got time to read your memoirs.
2. . Be Open-Minded
Okay, when I say “be open-minded” I don’t mean “you should look past the fact that this guy’s profile is only pictures of meat cleavers.” What I mean is to throw out that long list of qualifications you have for your future husband or wife. He doesn’t need to be over six feet tall with a medical degree and a huge beard made of puppies. Narrowing out a lot of potential mates because they don’t fit a narrow, impossible standard is going to make online dating very boring. Sure, you can have a few very important deal breakers (religious beliefs, kids/no kids, is a cannibal) that you keep in mind. But no more than five! If you start to rule out people before you even talk to them because of the way they look or because they quote Wedding Crashers on their profile, which is dumb but possibly forgivable, you’re going to miss out on some great first dates.
3. . Initiate
If you let people come to you, you’re missing some of the fun of online dating—the ability to put yourself out there with very little consequence. Going up to somebody at a grocery store is hard, and getting rejected face-to-face can be a tough thing to recover from. But online, rejection is swift and virtual! It’s good practice to start some conversations. Not only can it help you get over the jitters of jumping back into the dating pool, or talking to people you don’t know online, it can feel pretty liberating and exciting to “make the first move.”
4. . Don't Put Up With Anything
If anybody gets gross, or crosses the line in any way…move on. The bad thing about online dating is that you can sometimes see the worst side of people first—that’s the Internet for you. But the good thing is that you can see red flags from a mile away, even well before you start dating somebody in person. So look for those red flags. If people start to get weird or overly personal, or give you aggressive vibes, say no thanks and move on. Same goes for people you aren’t nervous about but just aren’t attracted to. The good thing about dating online is that you don’t have to stay long if you don’t want to—if an online conversation is getting boring, or you two want different things, just move on!
5. . If You're Interested...Meet Up!
This isn’t 2004 in your parent’s basement. You don’t need to form an online friendship with someone where you never meet and just talk for hours all night. The point of online dating is to find people in your area that you like, and then meet up with them for dates. So do it! If you’ve been talking consistently for more than 72 hours without a promise of an in-person meetup, suggest one. If they say no and get cagey about it, it’s probably time to move on. And if they say yes, meet in a public place! Tell your friends where you are going! Don’t follow them to a remote place right away! And have fun! I’ve been watching a lot of Law and Order!
Oh, and if you don’t watch them—that’s the joy of online dating. You can ctrl, alt, delete and start again.