Online dating can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the idea.
Yes, it’s much more common to meet your partner online nowadays, and there are plenty of happily married couples who found each other through a dating site. But it’s still not the norm.
The idea of scrolling through potential partners and trying to plan dates with total strangers may not sound very appealing. You might be interested in giving it a try, but you’re uncertain if you really have the time or patience for it.
Yet, no matter how busy your schedule is, it’s still possible to meet “the one” online—or at least connect with some interesting people and have a little fun!
Here’s how to get the most out of online dating.
Choose Your Filters Carefully
Be honest with yourself about your true dealbreakers. But don’t be too quick to write people off for arbitrary or “not right on paper” reasons.
It’s understandable to dismiss requests from people who don’t share your core beliefs on important issues, like marriage and children, or even politics. However, don’t assume you need to be with someone with a certain job title or specific shared interests or hobbies.
Zero in on the absolute non-negotiable details first, and then keep an open mind. But don’t judge people too harshly when it comes to their career or their perceived financial status. There are many different kinds of intelligence, and you might be surprised by how well someone with a different type than yours complements your strengths in a relationship.
Be Straightforward and Direct
When you connect with someone you enjoy talking to, it’s time to make real plans! Decide on concrete dates and times so that you’re not left hanging and waiting around with a vague promise to “get together soon.”
If someone keeps canceling, you don’t need to put your life on hold while they get their act together. That’s the great thing about online dating—it really expands your dating pool, so you can move on to someone who will make an honest effort to meet up with you in person.
Plan Dates That Work With Your Schedule
Don’t have time for dinner and a movie? Will an open-ended evening of getting together for drinks throw your schedule out of whack? Feel free to suggest something more casual and quick that works for you, especially for the first date.
For instance, why not get together for a coffee or meet for lunch when you have a break in the middle of your workday? If your weekdays are totally packed, you need someone who understands that you have a lot on your plate. And if this first date goes well, you can plan something more elaborate for the second date.
Don’t Bother Playing Hard to Get
When you’re young, you often feel like being coy and mysterious about your feelings will be more attractive to the object of your affection. But when you get older, there’s no need to beat around the bush and play hard to get. Forget about the silly “rules” like waiting a few days to text back—just be honest!
Want to plan a second date? Say so! Don’t think you’re into it? Speak up! It’s better to keep it real from the start, rather than playing games or dragging out a relationship that’s heading nowhere. If you find it hard to be clear and direct, perhaps out of fear of hurting the other person’s feelings or being perceived as “not nice” then you might consider exploring this part of your own dynamic in therapy so that when you do find a great partner, you can bring your own needs to the table and be prepared to set appropriate and healthy boundaries.
Enjoy the Ride
Online dating doesn’t have to be an exercise in perfect efficiency. You don’t have to meet someone who checks every box to find happiness. Rather, when you click with someone, allow the relationship to evolve naturally.
Do your best to relax, enjoy yourself, and try not to fret about the outcome. Online dating can feel like a slog, or it can be an exciting adventure that leads you to a great partner. There may be some terrible dates, sure, but they might make for great stories and you might even make a new friend or two in the process of finding that partner in life you’ve been seeking.
Ready to make some changes in your love life? Read more here about how therapy can help you change your approach to relationships.