Online dating is not for the faint of heart. It offers a unique way of meeting people and yet can quickly devolve into a discouraging bundle of issues and challenges before one even gets to the actual date. Then, if one starts to date, there can be many disappointments that often happen.
As a psychotherapist for over thirty years, I have been witness to many successful relationships as well as “short-lived” relationships. I use this term, “short lived” instead of “failed relationships” because not every connection is meant to be a long-term relationship. Often there are many other unexpected gifts in a connection besides a long-term relationship, even ones that are hurtful or disappointing.
One common complaint is that people are not who they say they are. Another common story is how the connection starts off strong but ends up with being “ghosted” or rejected without an explanation.
Bottom line, online dating is a vulnerable and courageous pursuit for meaningful connection that involves many risks yet it is still known as the best option for crossing paths with people you don’t yet know that holds the possibility for authentic quality company.
However, online dating doesn’t have to be full of disappointments. Hang in there. Be present to what arises for you, and see your online dating experience as a pathway of personal growth.
Online Dating Tips & Insights to Remember
- Be clear on the qualities you are looking in a partner and grow to embody these qualities as well.
- Don’t rely on dating for your main source of connecting with others. Nurture your friendships while you are exploring the dating realm.
- Gather information about the person you go out with, asking them questions. Learn about how he or she lives, what they prioritize, how their other relationships are, find out about their views and interests with work, money, physical self-care, communication style etc.
- Try not to act like something/someone you're not. Be yourself. Look to create your own sense of safety and being comfortable so that you are truly yourself around someone. Being at home within yourself in the presence of another person is actually the true magic that leads to longer relationships.
- Don’t be fooled by the magical dopamine-high that can happen when first meeting someone, which usually comes and goes in about one to three months.
- If you feel anxious, share it. If you don’t understand what he or she is saying, say so. Be clear and direct with what you feel and need, and notice how he or she responds to you when you share. Notice if your date has the ability to listen, empathize and be supportive. Pay attention to their ability to help establish a safe zone to address emotions and direct communication.
- Does your date ask you questions? Is there balance and interest both ways?
Approach online dating — each interaction— as an opportunity to know yourself better, to be clear on who you are, what you want and what your boundaries are.
Each exchange is an opportunity to be more authentic and real, try on new behaviors, release old habits, and create meaningful interactions, even if the person is not your soul mate. I found myself saying to many guys, “I get that we're not a couple, but I am so glad to know that you are on the planet.”
See online dating as a way of playing a game with the Universe. You are making your move by going online. No matter what you are feeling, I suggest you do it every day, even for ten minutes, as a way of being in conversation with the Universe, you are saying…
“I am genuinely interested in meeting someone. This is my way of planting seeds every day to let you know I’m in! I am open to a response through this or other avenues.”
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Deva Joy Gouss, LCSW has been practicing experiential psychotherapy in Atlanta for thirty-three years. Working with groups, couples and individuals, she also integrates energy medicine, polarity touch, yoga, trauma resiliency therapy and the power of ritual. For over two decades, she has also led monthly workshops, including Marrying Yourself for women and Nourishing Your Love for couples. She is the author of Toolbox of Hope: For When Your Body Doesn’t Feel Good and Rearranged, Never the Same: The Nature of Grief. www.goodnessbreath.com