So let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat: yes, I met my husband online.
Well, truthfully I met him at a party in college years before I met him online, but it was online where we reconnected and eventually began dating.
Tinder didn’t exist when we met, but as a relationship therapist in San Francisco you can imagine I’ve heard a lot about it. Quite frankly, the reports I’ve gotten make me think dating online these days, not just on Tinder, is unhinging, and borderline traumatic. People are flakey, they don’t communicate, they disappear.
Overall, it’s disappointing and disheartening.
I keep asking myself why this is.
I’m not totally naïve; I have my fair share of online dating horror stories. At times I lost hope, shed some tears, changed last minute plane tickets, and took more than one “dating sabbatical.” However, I was determined to meet my person so I continued to pick myself back up and start over. Through the process, I learned to do a few things differently. After witnessing many people I care about fall into the same pool of terror that I did, I’ve decided to boil this down to a few simple things I wish I knew when I was dating online:
1. Don’t wait to be “chosen.”
You won’t succeed at dating (online, or anywhere, for that matter) if you are doing it to be “chosen.”
Let’s be real about this one. We live in a culture where women get set up to be chosen. You wait for him to start the conversation, then you wait for him to ask you out, you wait for him to text afterwards, then wait some more for validation that the relationship is meaningful, all the while hoping that in the end you will be chosen for all of your special and unique qualities that make you unlike any other girl in the universe. So special, in fact, he just can’t live without you. Then it’s a big disappointment when it doesn’t work out that way. When you tie your self-worth to someone else’s desire for you, you’re in for a rocky ride. And why should any one person have that much power over you, anyway? Why shouldn’t you get to do some choosing as well? Be aware of how this game plays out.
Choose yourself first, every single day.
2. Beware of negative gossip.
Many women love to tell stories, really nasty heinous ones where we lose and end up alone. I remember getting together with other single girlfriends and sharing our dating fails over a few glasses of wine. It was almost as if the girl with the best sob story would win.
At the end of the night we would inevitably conclude that there were no good men left in San Francisco and we would probably end up drunken spinsters with six cats and a nice collection of high heels. Then we would laugh and go home terrified this might actually become reality. Worse – we very seldom shared our successes. If someone had a really awesome, over-the-top-wonderful date we were scared to share that too in fear we might jinx our pre-determined fate. It isn’t so.
Good friends also want to hear how you are winning, so share the good stuff too.
3. Believe it will work.
It’s no secret: what we believe manifests.
Check in with yourself regularly, and dig deep into the story you have stored away somewhere in your heart. Is there a secret fear of you’ll be alone forever?
Are you just hoping the universe will prove you wrong? Be clear that your person is out there. It’s important to know that partnership is in your future, and then take it one step further. I often recommend that people go through the exercise of imagining what the energy of their future relationship feels like. How would it feel to come home from work and have your partner greet you? What does it actually feel like to be with them?
Try it on. Wear that feeling around until it becomes familiar to you, as familiar as your favorite sweater. Then never take it off.
You must trust in the process in order for it to work.
4. Be impeccable with your words and actions.
One of the most common complaints I hear about dating these days is that there seems to be little follow through in a world more and more technologically connected. Why do so many people drop the ball? I’ve heard this called the “Houdini syndrome” or even “ghosting,” and it drives people nuts, men and women alike. Let’s face it, there will be bad dates, life happens, things come up, we get it. If you want to be treated with respect you must also communicate—out of respect. We are all adults here so give the follow through you wish to receive, even if that means you need to tell some people “no,” and politely pass on dates.
The clearer you are with other people, the clearer you can expect them to be with you.
5. Know your worth.
If there is one thing I hope to impart when it comes to you dating it’s this: really, really, really know your value.
You’ve probably heard this said a million other ways, but quite frankly, I’m not sure we’re getting it. We are hard-core junkies for external validation. Then we use that crap to convince ourselves that we maybe, just maybe, deserve the love we really want. Wrong. Backwards. No. We have to stop with the stories of rejection. It starts with your own self-valuation.
How can anyone really love you deeply if you don’t love yourself?
It’s trying to run before you walk. Be loving to yourself first and the rest will come.
Author: Clare Johnson Weis
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy of the author