Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series.
I recently read research that says that 11 percent of adults who have been in a relationship for 10 years or less have met their current spouse or long-term romantic partner online. So, perhaps it is time to review what an effective online/cell phone profile consists of, along with the do’s and don’ts of online dating.
First, the DON’TS (next week I will list the DO”S):
Some people stay on online dating sites for years, sifting through hundreds or even thousands of potential partners, but never truly connecting with anyone. Because there are so many choices on internet dating sites, some people get into the habit of looking for reasons to reject rather than accept. S/he is too tall/short, wants/doesn’t want or has children, has a different religion or political affiliation and so on. Obviously, some of these criteria are important to you, and they become effective screening tools. But don’t be so picky that you wind up rejecting everyone.
Don’t misrepresent yourself. Don’t give a false age, weight, body type, height, income/financial status, marital status, education or profession — and if you are recently separated, divorced or have recently recycled back to being single, say so. You do not want a potential mate to feel let down on the first date because you said you were athletic (after all, you played a game of tennis earlier this year), but they can see that you’re a out of shape. Also, it’s never a good idea to attempt to begin a new relationship with a lie (“Did my profile say I was 39? I don’t know why they’re saying that. I’m really 49”). Trust is vitally important to a relationship, and no one can afford to create trust issues right off the bat and expect a relationship to thrive. For the record, the most common online profile lies women use is to misrepresent their age, weight or body type. Men are more likely to misrepresent their height, income, financial status and body type.
Don’t post photos of your children, family members, pets or of your ex. A potential mate might meet all these in good time, but s/he is not going to choose you because of them. And don’t post old photos — make sure all your photos are recent. You definitely don’t want a potential sweetheart to be disappointed when s/he meets you, so post pictures of yourself the way you look today, not how you looked in the past.
Don’t spend a lot of time writing (or phoning) back and forth until you can meet each other in person and determine that there’s chemistry and mutual attraction. If you’re not attracted to the other person, the relationship is going to fail no matter how good your connection is, so don’t waste a lot of time trying to connect unless you know this is someone you really want — and someone who appears to want you back.
Don’t choose to meet people you know you’re going to reject anyway.
Don’t play it too safe. Take all necessary security precautions, but the bonding and falling in love process isn’t emotionally safe, and it requires you to let someone else in. Risk getting rejected rather than playing it too safe, because playing it really safe all but insures that you’ll fail.
Don’t run away from a promising opportunity. Promising opportunities don’t present themselves every day.
Don’t allow online dating to become an obsession. If you’re not careful, it will take up all your free time.
The meeting/dating/relating/mating process is likely to take you longer than you expect it to. Don’t get discouraged and give up if you encounter multiple disappointments. You’re not going to hit a home run unless you’re in the game.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 21st year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website: www.heartrelationships.com. He is not able to respond individually to queries.