For as long as I’ve been interested in having a serious relationship, online dating has been pervasive in society. There’s really no part of my personal dating history that doesn’t exist using some form of the internet.
When I was in high school, I would talk to my crushes on instant messenger or, when I was a senior, using t9 text messages that cost 10 cents each. The dating game has changed significantly, as I understand it, from the days when there were no text messages or insta-likes in play. While I can’t really compare the two realms, I can share how social media and using online dating apps have really changed my romantic experience.
(I’m not a serial dater, but yes I have an example story for all of these.)
The Quality of Conversation on Social Media
Online dating apps change the way that conversations take place. For some people, this means wading through an endless sea of “hi” and “hey” and “lol.” But this actually works in reverse, too.
A guy I was introduced to by a mutual friend seemed sweet and at the party where we met, we exchanged numbers. We were in constant communication by both text and Facebook messenger, but we never talked on the phone.
Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me to talk on the phone. It’s not how I communicate with anyone else in my life, so it’s not how I communicated with him. And here are the two things that happened:
Our conversations had no start or end. They were just sort of living, breathing creatures that bred convenience more than intention when it came to getting to know a new person.
When we finally got together in person, our conversation chemistry was very different.
We lived far away, but when he finally came to visit for the day, the conversation was laborious! We didn’t have the time we did through texting to come up with a good, thoughtful reply, and it turned out in real time, we had no natural banter.
The answer? Use this advice to get avoid disappointment when you meet someone in real life.
The Pressure of Competition on Social Media
None of us in 2019 are strangers to the fact that social media has sparked an ever present flame of insecurity, jealousy and comparison in all of us.
It manifests in online dating just as well. The most reputable online dating apps, more often than not, are not intended primarily for casual coffee dates. Most people investing their time in online dating—which takes a lot of effort and care!—are looking for The Real Thing.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that you may find yourself on dates with people who know exactly what they want. However, be careful that you’re not being slotted into an open position versus someone actually falling in love with what makes you You.
A very kind-hearted man took me on a few dates once, but that was all it took for him to start planning our future. He wanted me to meet his mom on Date 2. He deleted his dating apps on Date 1; he felt so sure we were meant to be.
As I got to know him, I learned that he was a newly divorced father of a young child. He was ready to be back in a traditional family life. It wasn’t necessarily the jigsaw-puzzle-loving, cardigan-wearing, incredibly clumsy Erin he liked. It was the single, available woman with wifely qualities.
The answer? It’s not a problem to know what you want, but make sure you evaluate fairly and don’t force a person into a box you’ve been waiting to close for a while.
The Issue of Safety
First and foremost, determine if the online dating apps you’re using are trustworthy. But still, exercise caution whenever you’re meeting someone new. Even if you trust the site, there are still ways that your safety can be compromised meeting someone through social media.
Be aware that people may not always be what they seem online, and your emotional safety is important too.
There was a man I met on a trustworthy online dating app (not this one, don’t worry) who I had easy, fun conversation with. We agreed to meet up for a museum walk and a drink one afternoon. I had all the boxes checked for safety: daylight, public place, driving myself, friends knew where I was—but something was still off for me.
As the date came closer, he started texting me his excitement to meet me paired with sexually aggressive hopes for how our date would end. While they were not an inherent threat (he was hoping for enthusiastic consent on my part), it still made me feel unsafe.
To protect myself and my virtue of chastity, I made the decision to cancel the date. He wasn’t thrilled but as is often the case with that type of match, he was quickly onto the next and over me.
The answer? Be sure that it’s safe to meet in person using our tips on when to meet someone online here. And keep trusted family or friends posted on where you are and how you feel. Trust your gut, always.
The Question of Boundaries
Social media and online dating have led us to a place where more means better. More friends, more likes, more matches.
If you’re getting a lot of interest in your profile, good for you! How can you decide how many people you should be talking to at one time? Or in the case of my last story, how many dates before you delete an app?
To address this issue, I think it’s important to take inventory of how you’re feeling and how transparent you’re being. I was hitting it off with a man online in college who flirted heavily with me on social media but in person he treated me no differently than anyone else around. I found out later he had a girlfriend. Because he and I weren’t “official,” he didn’t really see a problem with this.
Needless to say, I did. And it didn’t continue.
The answer? Use these insights to help you decide what matches have potential—and when you do, try to focus your efforts there. And be open about it!
Keeping these things in mind will help you stay totally aware and armed towards the pitfalls of online dating so you can head straight for the successes and happy ending that surely lie ahead!