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The Dos and Don’ts of Online Dating

Email To A Friend

So here you are single and ready to date again! Maybe you have already dated through shadchanim and are burnt out from the disappointments, maybe you just want to explore something new, or maybe you just feel like it is easier and less time consuming to pursue online dating and would like to know what that is like.

Having been there, I would like to share my feelings as well as tips on this topic. Online dating can be a great tool for broadening your options as long as you are smart, cautious and take some very important safety steps. Before I go into the safety measures one should take, I would like to briefly touch upon your overall mind frame going into this new venture.

At first you might either be excited at the prospect of meeting potential new partners or nervous and insecure of the unknown.  My advice, take a very detached approach to it. Look at it like you are posting your resume on a jobsite. You know that a million other people have done the same and chances for a recruiter to choose your resume and give you an interview are one in a million.  You just post your resume to put yourself out there, understanding that it is not a guaranteed win. Understand that you may not meet the right person right away, or at all, and that you may experience some unpleasant incidences.  Going into this with realistic expectations will help you navigate through the frustrations and challenges. Why do I tell you this? Because we never know where the right person will come from.

I dated for 10 years, and yes, went out on hundreds of unfruitful dates. Yet, Hashem had someone in store for me, and I would have never ended up with him, had I given up after the disappointments I had experienced. I can write a series of all my crazy dates, many that come from dating sites, but  here I am B”H married to a guy I met ONLINE. So, as hard or as challenging as this venture may become, don’t give up! Get guidance, discuss your experiences with a friend or mentor that can give you direction and clarity, and last but not least daven.

Now let’s get you started:)!

Creating Your Online Dating Profile

Questions to ask yourself before you write your profile:

  • What is special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life, personal or family challenges, history, people or events have shaped you or influenced your life goals?
  • What have you learned about past relationships, in terms of yourself?
  • What are your relationship goals?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, persistence) do you possess, and how can you demonstrate that you have these characteristics?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate than others?
  • What is the single most compelling reason you can give a person to be interested in you?
  • Do NOT write your full name on your profile. Personally I wouldn’t even put your first real name.  You don’t know what people are like out there and you want to make sure you are safe and don’t get any unwanted surprises.
  • Do include a photo. People who’ve uploaded a photo get 15 times more attention than people who don’t have a photo.
  • Be honest!! Do not represent yourself with dishonesty, like post a picture where you are ten years younger, or 30 pounds lighter. The guy might eventually meet you and he will run for the hills if he sees something very different than what he expected.
  • Make sure you smile in your photos. Please smile appropriately not seductively, you want to send the right message across.
  • Don’t hide your face behind a pair of sunglasses or a hat.
  • Wear something proper and simple. Don’t post a picture where you are overdone and overdressed, like your sister’s wedding.  It is not how you really look.  Also don’t post a picture with someone else. This picture is about you, so focus on presenting yourself in the best way possible.
  • Your content should be real and honest. Do not lie about your age or past. I have had guys lie about their age, and kids, and much more. No one wants to start a relationship under false premises.
  • Consult your friends and family for help in writing your online profile. There are things that they love about you that you might not otherwise think about for yourself.
  • Don’t use clichés. You may love long walks on the beach, but who doesn’t? Say something interesting about yourself that is unique to you.
  • Don’t forget to run spell-check. If you have misspelled words in your profile, it tells the world that you just don’t care about what you’re doing.
  • Do respond to every e-mail that you get. If you were walking down the street and someone said hello, you’d probably say hello back. It’s the same protocol online. Respond, even if the answer is a simple, “No, thanks.” I also say don’t do to others what you don’t like done to you, and trust me it will bother you if someone ignored your emails.
  • Keep it light. Your first e-mail should not be a rant about how expensive gas prices are. Keep it lighthearted in tone and keep it simple.
  • Don’t reveal confidential information in your e-mail exchanges. If you were at a local coffee shop, you wouldn’t give out your home address to just anyone standing in line.
  • Don’t meet in person until you’ve actually talked on the phone. You know voice and sound are great way to judge chemistry.

 

Cyber Safety

  • Verify information on a potential match as thoroughly as possible.
  • Always create a separate e-mail account for your online dating activity.
  • List your cell phone number, not your home number, if the site requires one. Home numbers are traceable.
  • When you get to the point of exchanging numbers, DO NOT provide your home number or address. This is a perfect stranger you are talking to and you don’t want to reveal information that could jeopardize your safety.
  • When chatting or e-mailing, never give more than a first name, and keep it that way until the first date. I even got to the point of not exchanging my first real name after having had a frightening experience, but I would suggest you should use common sense and caution.
  • Meet publicly and make sure someone knows where you are. I always told a friend or family member that I was going out and if possible where. Remember that the person you meet online is a stranger.
  • Don’t stay online too long before a meeting: Studies show that looking at a computer screen gives a false sense of intimacy with a resulting loss of inhibitions. When you’re dealing with strangers, as you are in online dating, inhibitions serve a valuable and healthy function. It also may create an illusion of feelings and emotions that really aren’t there. A real healthy relationship takes time to build, and “Love at first sight” really is for the movies.
  • Never date online on an office computer: Keep your personal life and your office life separate. Remember your company will have access to anything you do on their equipment.
  • Don’t get seduced in online “shopping”: Beware of juggling too many people at the same time. While it’s perfectly okay to go slowly, and initially see more than one candidate, especially if your dates are continuing online, the giddiness of “so many profiles, so little time” can be self-defeating. In addition, once you started seeing someone and you think of taking it further, don’t continue talking or emailing other candidates. It just confuses you and gets in the way of gaining clarity.

 

Red Flags

  • You met a candidate after having corresponded and spoken to for the right amount of time.  The guy is nothing like he told you over the phone or represented himself in his profile. I would run! You can’t build relationships on a false foundation.
  • You are sitting on your date and get an uncomfortable unsafe feeling. Trust your gut. Woman often ignore their sixth sense and allow themselves to be persuaded or mellowed. Don’t let that happen. If your instinct tells you something is wrong, there probably is. Excuse yourself and cut the date short. If you are unsure about your feelings and think you judged to fast, you can always inquire further and see if your intuition misled you.
  • You just met and the guy is already all into you and hasn’t stopped calling or texting. Be careful. Some guys are desperate and not serious in a real long term relationship that can lead to marriage. They are the ones that get very clingy very fast. That being said, even if they are interested in a serious relationship, do you want to spend the rest of your life with someone clingy and insecure?
  • You really liked the guy and thought your date went well, but he hasn’t called or been all too responsive. He is probably not that into you or that interested.  Move on.  The man who wants you will make you feel wanted in a respectful manner.
  • You felt like he didn’t make an effort on the first date at all, came unkempt and didn’t have a plan of where to go and just hung out in the car. Or he made a promise to take you someplace and didn’t. Don’t allow yourself to be treated that way. You deserve to be wined and dined.

 

You did it, you are dating someone you met online and think it is really going somewhere.  Now all dating comes with its ups and downs, and at times challenges and obstacles. Please get yourself a solid mentor or friend you can really trust and talk to.  This is your whole future and you want to make sure you get the right hadrocha and guidance. Better be safe than sorry again! Date as long as you need and as much as you need. DON’T let yourself be pressured into anything, by ANYONE. I mean anyone. Not family, not your best friend, not your Rov, NO ONE. You will be living with this man for the rest of your life and you have to know 100% that you want this with all the challenges, positives and negatives and only YOU can decide that. With Hashem’s help and the right messengers you will IY”H find happiness again!

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