Online Dating Experience
If you have not yet been blessed with a significant other, are not in a relationship or have not found the one person you believe the Lord has created just for you, you may have had some experience with the online dating scene, or may be thinking of trying it. It is surreal to say the least!
When you first think of it, you feel very hopeful, after all, there are thousands of men and women online at any given time of the day. Your hopefulness might fade some when you start answering the specific questions that are required. Trying to say the right thing in the right way, not too little, not too much; then figuring out which pictures to upload which show the “REAL” you. When you finally complete your profile, you are left with an accomplished feeling of “ok, I am out there”. Now what does the opposite sex think of me? Of course, there is really no way for them to get the “REAL” you from the couple of pictures and paragraphs of text you just put out there, but you do have hope that a connection will happen. After all, what is your alternative?
Now that you are out there and more time passes, several things can and will happen. You will begin to have the opposite sex view your profile. They will either move along or contact you by sending you a smile or email of some sort. They may even favorite you in some way. Now it’s up to you to view their profile and reply back or move along yourself. A word of caution at this stage of communication; if you are looking for a serious relationship and not just a pen pal, make sure to meet soon before you exchange too much information online, it’s easy to get stuck in email loops back and forth with several individuals and never actually meet to make sure you even want to build a relationship with whom you have been sharing personal information with.
But what happens after a while and no one actually sends you a smile or contacts you or maybe those that do contact you, you really are not attracted to or you feel would not be a match. Let’s face it; the online dating is a place for each of us single individuals to find someone that we feel we may possibly want to spend the rest of our life with. We have voluntarily thrown ourselves into a very large pool of other single individuals looking for the same thing (mostly). Be careful not to disclose too much too soon; there are all types of unscrupulous predators online these days and you must be smart about whom you share information with. Don’t obsess about another’s pictures or if they fit perfectly at all with what you think you want in a match. You haven’t even met them yet, and most likely you are forming many incorrect assumptions about who they are by what is in their profile.
At some point you will start to go searching for that special someone on your own. Building your search criteria is sort of like going into a grocery store with a shopping list. When shopping for groceries, you visit many areas within the store, health food, liquids, paper products, frozen goods, meat section, vegetables, sweets, junk food, dairy products, fruits and canned goods. Within each of these are so many different types and brands, which do you really want? How can you decide? Which go together? Which will you like? Which will make you sick?
Similarly like going to the grocery store you need to develop a shopping list of what you are looking for before you search: hair & eye color, body type, frequency of exercise, religion, activities they like or do, any children, drinking, smoking, income level, job, lifestyle, ethnicity, common interests or marital status just to name a few. After you have selected your goods and created your list of what you want in the online store, you perform your search.
From these results you need to select those you feel attracted to either by the pictures or text they have shown you. Maybe it’s real; maybe it’s accurate, maybe not? There can be all kinds of “spoiled” goods in this store. But there are also a lot of the very good products mixed in. You simply do not know how good your selections might be until you decide to interact with them. You can do this one at a time or do a shotgun approach by responding too many potentials and wait to see what happens. But no matter what, it takes some time to feel comfortable enough to decide to meet.
This kind of activity can go on and on and is how you get to the meeting stage. When you finally get here you get to see, touch, poke and observe your selection in person, and they you. Did you make a good selection? Did they? Remember, they are observing what they selected too! The dating process and information gathering stages are ongoing from this point. How long does it take for one person to get to know another? We all have histories that need to be shared, both good and bad. We all have future dreams and goals that need to be discussed. Some may not align with your choice of partner. But at what stages do you share that information? Only each of us can determine that. What feels right to you? What are you prepared to hear from your chosen one about their past history or future goals? Will that change how you feel about your chosen partner? At some point, if you want the relationship to move to marriage, you “must” commit and get behind that commitment. You each need to feel and know that each of you has the others backs and that no matter what happens, they will be there for you. You together are now one. This is a true loving partnership, one that can withstand all things.
As time moves along and you build a solid relationship and both decide you are committed and want it to go somewhere, at this point, you should have discussed the parts of your past that may affect your future together and plan how things will work moving forward. You should have some deeper level discussions around how you will move forward as a couple and finally as husband and wife. Being one person in the past and now becoming two can take some adjusting. Those discussions should include how your relationship will work between you and with your individual friends and family moving forward; your separate and joint spirituality; your individual and joint finances and retirement plans; how you enjoy your leisure time by yourself and together; your career desires; and your giving to others. Not discussing any of these topics at some level of detail may lead to some large problems between you and your partner later on which could be avoided.
My own experiences with online dating and building intimate relationships have been mixed. I was married for over 22 years, went through the divorce process and have been dating on and off over the last five years. I have met several terrific women on several of the online dating sites. One led all the way up to looking at rings…but then disintegrated to nothing because of not fully discussing how our pasts might affect our futures and how committed we both really were to live our future life together. Combining two singular lives into one after 5 to 10 years of being by yourself can be difficult and should not be rushed. Take the necessary time to get to really know each other, ask the hard questions, have the difficult discussions and then give it your all. I do believe we receive from a relationship what we put into it. Don’t quit if you run into a challenge or two, if you have something good. No relationship is easy, at times, they will require more work; and all relationships have challenges.
Experience is a great teacher, make sure you learn from it, think on it, but don’t let it rule your future. Your past does not dictate your future, so don’t let it.
The views above are only my views which have been drawn from my own experiences.
Good luck finding your special someone!
Gary J. Kiecker