In my last article I advised that because of the anonymity of the Internet you should proceed with caution. People often are not honest about who they are and tend to present a false image (literally in the case of their photo). Frequently people meet face-to-face too early relying too much on their visual impression which often clouds judgment where they tend to overlook subtle clues and warning signs that this might not be someone right for you. Hence, I suggested that you take your time getting to know who it is that you are connecting with. I suggested that you do some homework before jumping into an actual dating situation.
The Upside of Internet Dating
In this article I want talk about the upside of the anonymous Internet dating experience (see page 92-100 of my book, Someone Right For You for a more detailed discussion).
- An opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It is not often that you are able to chat with people from here, there, and everywhere. If you approach Internet dating with a light-hearted attitude, talking with someone from another state or country can be both informative and fun.
- It is an opportunity to learn how to engage in light conversation. You can practice the art of dialogue gradually moving from light to more serious subjects. You are in control. Using either chat (instant messaging) or email, you have the chance to re-read and modify your conversation before hitting the send button. Basically, you can practice the fine art of schmoozing!
- The Internet is a playground. Because of the anonymity you can practice different styles of communicating. You can be flirtatious one day, assertive another, or daring on another. You can find your own voice. It is difficult to do this face-to-face where there is a tendency to become tongue-tied or uncomfortable.
- You can control your anxiety, your desperation, your impulsivity, and your tendency to regret the things you say. With online dating you can think before you act. You can focus on the person with whom you are engaged rather than on yourself.
- If you are unhappy with how you handled a particular situation, there is always the next one to practice being better. Remember, you have very little at stake when engaged in online dating. Relax and enjoy.
Some Friendly Advice
In my book I list 12 (p. 95) pieces if advice for Internet dating. The following are but a few:
- Put in what you want to get out of it. Make clear in your profile what you are looking for in a relationship.
- Be specific about who you are. Avoid generalizations that could apply to just about anyone.
- Ask your friends to look at your profile before you post it. Ask them to be critical. What you put out into the Internet will largely determine what type of responses you receive.
- Ask questions. When you begin connecting with someone, listen carefully to how they answer your questions. Instead of being interested in selling yourself, learn to ask questions and to evaluate answers. After a while you will become quite skilled at discriminating between truth and fiction. Developing these listening skills will help you in face-to-face conversations as well.
- Develop a relationship. All Internet daters find that they can save themselves a lot of time, energy, and grief by getting to know someone before setting up a meeting. One of the major advantages of Internet dating is that you can focus on the other person and learn a lot without the self-consciousness that occurs in a face-to-face date. In addition, you reduce the “chemistry” factor which all too often colors or even distorts judgment.
Internet dating can be fun. It can help you develop confidence. You have the opportunity to control your emotional reactions. You can use your brain for selecting appropriate potential partners rather than allowing your heart to run wild. Of course this requires patience. Take your time. Proceed slowly. With good judgment and a bit of caution, you can have a lot of fun dating online from the comfort of your own home.