Let's begin with a brief history of online dating. Do you remember back in the day when people used video dating services, 900 number party lines, match makers or the personals ads in the back of the newspaper? Most of us were curious and browsed such ads just to see what people had to say about themselves and what they were looking for.
Then around 1991 the Internet hit in a big way, and by 1995 it was an integral part of business communications. Since then millions of singles worldwide have flocked to online dating websites, hoping to find true love with the click of a mouse.
Back in those early days, anyone placing an ad on a website looking for a date was considered to be desperate, the dregs of society - a total loser! At this juncture just about everyone has either a My Space, Face Book, Black Planet, Live Journal or Twitter page; meeting singles online has now become mainstream and totally acceptable.
Dating is rough, no doubt about it. Using the Internet to find romantic partners can be the path to your soul mate, or it can be the path to your worst nightmare!
Men Place a Lot of Focus on Looks
Jeremy, a 25 year old graduate student and part-time waiter complained that women frequently misrepresent themselves online. "A lot of girls put their pictures up from when they used to look good. Or they put up group pictures of them and a couple of friends. So you're thinking there are a lot of hot girls in this picture then one that is just kinda okay. Always turns out that the one you are talking to is the one that is the dog!"
"The thing about me is I don't really do the internet dating thing. I'd rather meet a person up front and talk to them at a social gathering. You see those photos online and people put up photos from 2 or more years ago. Put a photo of you currently now that you are fat... trying to pretend to be something you are not, that's ridiculous! I don't like that whole thing. She might be insane! That's scary! I'm not gonna risk that. I'd rather meet you in person where I have witnesses!" laughed Rick, a 28 year firefighter.
Clarence is a 42 year old divorced father of two girls. He now shakes his head at the whole Internet dating phenomenon after a brief stint on a popular site several years ago. "Women have it hard online. Sure, they get a lot of response to their ads, but most of the men are looking for nothing but some tail. I'm not like that and felt I didn't really fit in with that crowd. That's why I gave 'em up after about 2 weeks and have never even LOOKED at any of those sites. I believe that there's a very good reason that most (not all) of the male members are and will remain quite single!"
Online Dating From the Female Perspective
Renee is a sleek and classy 40 year old registered nurse, back in the dating game after the demise of a 3 year relationship.
"Most of the men I've come across online have very poor social skills. They don't really know what to talk to you about, so they say the most ridiculous and insulting things. Much of what comes from their lips is extremely disrespectful. It's hard to get a straight answer out of a lot of them, too. I believe that's why they have a hard time getting and keeping a woman of quality, which is what their profile claimed they wanted. I don't get it!"
It's easier to develop trust and confidence in a new relationship when the behavior of your potential partner matches his or her words. Saying one thing and doing another sends a mixed message, which is confusing and thus makes it risky to invest in you emotionally.
Hiding who and what you really are makes others wary and distrustful as well. Be willing to volunteer information about yourself so that others can get to know who you really are. Women especially need to develop the courage to ask hard questions and accept any answers they get. Acceptance of what a man says he is and is looking for will prevent hurt feelings down the road.
Conversation Bombs: What NOT to Say To Women
What kinds of statements might qualify as "ridiculous, insulting and disrespectful?" Take a look at the following list of comments and questions posed by men to women contacted on dating sites, and women's thoughts about them:
(1) Are you passionate? (Not with you buddy! What are you, 14? Your prematurely sexual conversation is a major turnoff! )
(2) What are your measurements? (See point #1 above)
(3) Are you still sexy? (Since this is the first 5 minutes of our first conversation, don't you think it might go over better if you place more importance on the hundreds of other things you don't know about me?)
(4) You're on here because you don't want or can't keep a man! (Look in the mirror loser, I don't see your behind happily married! If your brain fired on more than one cylinder genius, you'd realize that a woman with a personals ad online probably wants a man!)
(5) What positions do you like? (Anything that puts me on the opposite side of the world from you, pervert!)
(6) Hard to believe you are single and you're as beautiful as you are; you must be stubborn and hard to get along with! (It's better to be quiet and thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt moron!)
Watch Out for the Emotionally Unavailable
Consider each person you meet on an individual basis and ask yourself: could this person be playing games, married and looking strictly for a fling, or emotionally unavailable due to divorce or childhood baggage?
Lots of singles use Internet personals to find someone claiming they are so busy they don't have time to run around hanging out here and there trying to meet someone. Could "I'm too busy to date or have fun" be a socially acceptable way to push people away? But how do you get to know if someone is special if you don't get to spend time together? And if you don't have the time to find someone, how are you supposed to have time to keep them?
A veteran of the online dating world, Angela is now happily married to a man she met during an afternoon with her 9 year old son at a local water park. She acknowledges that there are problems with online dating, but feels they are not insurmountable.
"Some people do have older pictures posted and that was certainly an issue back in the day when I first got online. But now we have web cams so you can see what someone looks like in the here and now. And you can get to know a lot about a person if you talk to them online via instant messenger and email. I always saw it as fun because you don't have to give out your phone number if you don't want to. And if you don't want to meet the person, you don't have to do that either!"
The Internet is an exciting technology and enables communication with people around the world in mere seconds. Online dating enables us to interact with and get to know people we might not otherwise have met, people from our own neighborhood or people 10,000 miles away.
If you haven't yet had success with your attempts at dating online, don't give up yet! Web personals should never be your sole avenue for finding a partner, but online dating is definitely a viable avenue to romantic success for some.
(c)2008 Deborrah Cooper. Deborrah has authored dozens of relationship articles and advice columns on Ask HeartBeat!, which focuses on modern relationships for teens and adults. Her dating guide Sucka Free Love! provides street-smart, hilarious insight into the tough issues facing singles today. Check out The Sucka Free Dating Radio Talk Show on Tuesday nights at 6:00 pm PST.