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Online Dating Guidance

The stats prove it. Online dating no longer has the stigma of desperation or for people with problems. In fact, it has opened so many doors for so many people. Whether you are moving to a new area and want to meet new people, or experiencing the dating world for the first time, it pays to take a step back and consider what you’re doing.

Here’s my guidance on what it takes to make online dating a positive experience.

The dating platforms are, in my opinion, doing what they can to protect people. Even so, the sites are open to all-comers and it’s sometimes easy to forget that these people are strangers. In my experience, we are too hasty to move away from the site designed to protect and monitor our conversations in order to make the person more ‘real’.

Access to their photos, their friendship group, and updates, helps you to draw comparisons and, more often than not, a lot of conclusions. The constant ability to monitor and communicate can make you feel sky high when you are first talking to someone you like but experience has taught me that the security of your phone means we say and do a lot of things we wouldn’t dream of doing in person.

Take your time

I am always astounded by the number of people that hop right into chatting about their sex lives. Yes, we are a modern nation. No, we shouldn’t be body-shamed or embarrassed about what floats our boat, however, I wouldn’t walk up to a guy in a bar and ask him if his down below mo is shaved into a particular pattern, so why does it become acceptable over Insta’ or Snapchat? (Side note, I have never asked this question).

As I write this article, I am listening to the radio show by my friend, Rio. She discusses some of her dating experiences and I have to say I am rather traumatized listening to some of the things she has been through. I am lucky enough to only have had one rather scary experience and it reminded me I had become a little too confident with the online dating world. I have the benefit in this situation of being assertive, outspoken and even brash when needed, but I dread to think what happens to people that are a little less sure of themselves.

Back to stats. In general, these show it is still the younger generations using dating apps openly, and to my surprise mostly those who have never been previously married. I also noticed that the world of Google continues to bring out the best in us all. When I began to search for the statistics of online dating, I was first presented with high hitting articles such as ‘why I stopped online dating and started fingering my own ****’. Tone lowered, sorry ladies and gents. Perhaps this also reflects some of our general feelings towards online dating and I know a lot of people that have often sworn they will never touch another app again…until next week.

So, what advice is there out there?

Most of the big names within women’s fashion and media offer advice. More worryingly there seems a lot less out there for the support of men and the LGBT+ community. There are websites such as www.onlinedatingassociation.org.uk. This is really worth a look and despite some things seeming really quite obvious, it’s amazing how much we will ignore the rules because we feel like we know someone.

As a teacher I spend a lot of my time reminding children about e-safety, but if I am honest with myself realizing, I don’t follow a lot of the rules. I post my name and address out regularly with links to work, I add people to accounts before checking that I know them, and I trust people a little too quickly.

Your profile:

Think carefully. We all want to show our best side, but these strangers are going to meet you face-to-face, so be real and be honest with the photos you use.

Remember your profile is all they have. Using a sexually explicit name or photograph may make your feel initially more popular but it also says you are out there for one thing.

Protect others. You may have children you are very proud of and because of this, you’re happy to show a nice photo of you all. In fact, saying you have children to a complete stranger is more than enough. Abuse is an unfortunate fact of life and some people may use dating sites in order to get close to them.

Are they too good to be true? If that boy looks more God than man, he might be but… he might be a Catfish (someone who creates a false identity). They are skilled. If after a little time it doesn’t ring true or they are reluctant to meet, this might be all you need to question them.

Question people properly. It is your prerogative to protect yourself. Anyone that is offended by you asking the right questions is best left alone. They have a right to protect themselves as well, so you must ensure you asking appropriate questions before you get mad or get out.

Your Chat:

Would you say it (or show it) if they were in the room with you? Be honest with yourself …would you? It is also best to walk away and not log in if you know you have had a few. You might be facing these people on the other side of a job interview one day.

Keep things honest but open to interpretation.

Do: Where do you live? Near York. What do you do? I’m a teacher.

Don’t: Where do you live? My address is Flat 6, West Street. What do you do? I work as a teacher at York Primary school.

Giving away intimate and personal details is so easily done especially when the chat is flowing.

Continue to protect yourself and others. This is even down to the smaller things. If you have had a pants day at work discuss the day (not in detail) and don’t use lots of names. It sounds silly but until you REALLY get to know this person you don’t know who they know. Even if you are on each other’s socials.

Your Meet up:

Familiar but not too close. Don’t settle on your local pub or café as a meeting place. You’re not trying to be a ninja, but you are setting boundaries, so go for somewhere neutral and busy as a good starting point

Try to avoid booze. For numerous reasons avoiding drinking more than a glass or two is best. It impairs your judgment. It means you are unable to leave independently and/or easily. I’ve also found a lot of friends who drink pre-date or during to ease the nerves. In one sense this is something I can completely understand but if this guy or girl isn’t easing your nerves when you meet then they are probably not the one for you.

Continue to use social media. It is tempting when you get near date time to hand over your phone number. I have made this mistake and ended up changing my number. Yes, you can block them, but they can also use different numbers!

Your Future:

It’s pessimistic but it’s true. People can really sell a lie and meeting someone once or twice only tells you so much. Ensure you keep the rules in the back of your mind. It might also be worth considering:

If it feels like a lie…it probably is.

Excuses. These might be legitimate but if it happens a lot consider there may be more influencing this man or woman’s actions.

Money. Sad as it is the temptation to help someone in need is a very real thing for many of us and one of society’s biggest problems in their debt. You can be helpful without giving up your own assets. If they become insistent or coercive alarm bells should be ringing.

It’s easier said than done at times but it is important. The dating world can be SO much fun, you can meet people you would never have imagined. I’ve had some excellent times and, for now, I think it’s worked for me (let’s not jinx it). Unfortunately, there will always be people with a sinister or selfish motive, but I do believe online dating is a great way for vetting people. It means you can enjoy being out with your friends without trying to meet a partner and the pressure is off.

By Sophie

See also:

Feeling happier in your relationship
How to develop a good rapport
Been dumped? Time for a self-esteem boost

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