Dating in the Modern Age
Six Sage Suggestions
Dating and technology have become inevitable bedfellows. Technology is prevalent as a tool in many aspects of our lives, from health applications to communications to transportation. In our quest for partnership, technology can also be a tool. Millions of people use digital dating services and many committed partnerships begin online. So, if you are going to date online, what are some considerations?
As in all things internet-related, take everything with a grain of salt. In the dating world, people lie about their intentions, age, history, career, financial success, goals, interests and even their pictures. Of course many of these fallacies also apply to those you might meet at a bar, political rally or exercise class. It is prudent to be cautious as you gradually get to know someone, no matter where you meet them. If you know people in common, you can do a little background check on an individual, however never let that replace your gut instincts. Any information gleaned from others is just that: information to consider.
The internet provides a bigger pool of folks to draw from rather than relying on connections or those at your local bar. The internet is particularly effective for finding people that meet specific criteria, such as those of a particular religion, passion (e.g. the environment), income level (some dating sites only cater to verified people of means), sexual interests (e.g. crossdressing), location (e.g. within 100km), relationship preference (e.g. monogamous vs. polyamorous), those with same sexually transmitted infection ( so you don’t have to explain your status and/ or worry about transmission). You can easily sort through multiple people online much faster than it can take to talk to them.
Online dating also means that people can be more discreet about their interests. For someone who has a high public profile or who might be judged for their sexual preferences, such as a therapist or those who work with children, the internet offers some anonymity. This shelter provides a means for people to be themselves more easily in a more contained and private space.
Types of Sites
I spoke with pleasure coach Luna Matatas, (www.lunamatatas.com) about online dating. She said that Tinder and grindr tend to be for more casual hook-ups, but not exclusively. Those on OkCupid are more inclined to want a broader connection and compatibility with likeminded people. The photos are better on the Bumble app and women have more control, so some folks of all genders prefer that approach. Some sites offer the basics of just a photo and little more, while others ask for more details. And remember that most sites do not verify any information. Sometimes it is worth doing the paid versions of apps like Tinder and Bumble because they allow more features such as showing you who “liked” your profile. It depends on how efficient you want to be in your dating and whether it is worth the investment for you.
Unfortunately we all have to be cautious, even those of us who are generally trusting. Luna advises creating an anonymous email: one that does not reveal your identity or where you work. Don’t include any identifying information in your profile picture, such as a lanyard from work. Don’t give out your address. Meet somewhere public and neutral. She always lets a friend know where she is going and with whom. Since profiles can be deleted, she takes a screenshot of the date’s profile to share with the friend. Keep an eye on your food and drink and each pays their way on the first date.
One Step at a Time
Some people want to meet right away. Dating can be time-consuming, so determine your personality chemistry ahead of time via chats or phone conversations. Decide first whether the prospective person is worth your time to meet. Once you are interested in meeting face-to-face, Luna recommends connecting within a week. Commit only to a short meeting, such as for a drink: it is cheaper in terms of time and finances to assess whether there is any chemistry. She likes to arrive first, order and sit down. This avoids awkwardness around who is paying and enables you to take some deep breaths for calm rather than running in late and out of breath. It’s usually pretty clear within the first 15 minutes if the date is not for you and you can leave gracefully rather than being stuck waiting for your meal (and the bill) to arrive. You can always plan for a next time if you want to see the person again (and they are also interested) or you can suggest going for a bite or a walk if you would prefer to extend the meeting.
If you prefer meeting people the old-fashioned way, Luna recommends going to places where people are interested in the same things that you are interested in: rock climbing, painting, board games, political organizing, etc. There are fabulous Meetup Groups- some for singles and some just for like-minded people. If you find yourself in a social situation, practice approaching people. What are ways that you might like to introduce yourself other than the stereotypical “What's your sign” or “Come here often?”
Closing the Date
When you are leaving it is polite to thank your partner for sharing a coffee or say that you enjoyed meeting them, according to Luna. Don’t give a decision about another date in the moment. Take some time to reflect. Let them know within a day whether you are interested in seeing them again. If not, then you can tell them that you were not feeling the chemistry. Don't get into a reason for not being interested, otherwise they can challenge the reason and then you are engaged in a debate that you are not necessarily interested in pursuing. If they ask for feedback, decide whether you want to emotionally engage or not. It is ok to just say that it was not a good fit for you.
Luna finds that dating can be thrilling, frustrating, boring - all at the same time. There is a lot of trial and error. If you are feeling disconcerted or unhappy with your progress, take a break to reset your perspective so that you are not bogged down in the details. Go back when you have a fresh perspective. Nobody wants to date someone jaded. Make sure you present your best self!
Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, a sexuality shop and workshop centre in Toronto. If you have questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to goodforher.com