It’s a lot more complex trying to figure out relationships these days, then it was before I met my ex. Today things like Facebook and text messages go for communications. And the signals can come from all directions. You’ve got to be a communications savvy person, or get lost. Or refuse to go “online” for your romantic prospecting. But if you’re not willing to up your online game, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.
These days phone calls are almost archaic. The dates I’ve set up over the last three years have involved only a handful of phone calls. Some never progress off the initial dating site. Others will give you a phone number as a backup, but won’t ever respond to texts. And then others…
It’s easy to get swept up in the joy of messaging as well. I’ve had a number of startup relationships that were amazing in text and not-so-much in person. And that too, is one of the problems with online dating. There is a lot of intensity and fantasy you can give into before you ever look into the other person’s eyes. There’s even a question on OK Cupid’s massive question database, “Do you think you can fall in love without ever meeting someone in person?” Really?
Let’s pull that idea apart for a second.
- Photos are not very good indicators of what a person really looks like. If they are using really old photos they could be 50 lbs heavier in real life. (It’s happened to me three times, so far. You want to ask, “Um, that photo… When was that taken?”)
- Romantic articulation is not a good indicator of a chemistry match. It’s a good indicator of a romantic writer.
- The imagination can run wild with #1 and #2. The let down can be shocking.
I have a new strategy (as of my last online dating date, two nights ago) get the texts going. And then trade selfies. This has only snipped one escalating online flirtation, but it was immediate. There is very little manipulation you can do to a selfie in most circumstances. And you want to get the raw story before committing to a date.
And dates take time. They can be fun or uncomfortable. But they are distractions, at some point, if you keep finding yourself sitting across from “what was I thinking?” more than a few times. You need to refine your criteria a bit.
Here are a couple informal tips I’ve learned so far.
- If there’s only one photo – they are probably hiding something.
- Look at all the photos. There’s usually that one photo that’s a bit more real, less romantic, than the others. You can sometimes see through the mirage of great photography in that one photo. (I only learned this after the fact. I’d go out on a date and come back home and ask “what did I miss?”)
- If they don’t have kids, they’re never going to understand me and mine.
- Look for something magical. One thing that you can really get into about the person. (Not a pretty smile.) What they do or profess to love that you also love. See if you can tease a few more details about that “concept” in your conversations via text, email, or whatever.
- Pretty smiles are amazing. But they are not a complete package.
- Go ahead and say what you’re looking for in a relationship on your profile. I have it out there. “I’m looking for extraordinary.” I don’t want a half-charged woman. I’m not low-power or low-maintenance. I want brilliance.
- Keep plenty of time to yourself. If you are going out on dates in order to not be alone, you might look at that. You’ve got to keep refining what you want love to do, building the relationship without yourself BEFORE you get in another relationship. Your goal should be to build on those things, not just a sexy connection.
There are a lot of ways to communicate online. If you really like this person in initial conversations, but it’s hard finding the time to date, you can ask to be “friends” on Facebook. (Another source of great REAL photos.) And don’t discount Facebook as a potential dating pool as well. Much more touchy on Facebook, to seek dates, but when there is a connection it’s easy to get a feel for what this person is into by looking at their Facebook wall. I’m happy to share mine early. I’m not trying to hide who I am. My Facebook profile is 100% public.
And it’s quite okay for them to unfriend you when they decide you’re not a fit. Don’t be offended. It’s not about picking up more Facebook friends. It’s about trying to establish a communications system between the two of you.
And finally: DON’T DATE ON FACEBOOK. Sharing your “new boyfriend” is very embarrassing when you have to go back and delete all their pictures. And those “first Ikea purchase together” photos just seem sad when you’ve known the person for two weeks. Leave your Relationship Status on Facebook as “make selection.” Nobody needs to be trolling you for dating. And you don’t need to be broadcasting to them or anyone else when you go from “In Relationship with Sandy” to “It’s Complicated” to “Single.” It embarrasses your friends for you. Just don’t do it. (Unless you’re in your twenties, then perhaps, everyone is doing it. I don’t know much about that demographic.)
It’s wild enough out there. You need to get your communications strategy in place. And then if the other person has a different pace or different style you can figure out how to adjust.
More from The Whole Parent:
- What the Single Dad Wants – 9 Months Later (an update)
- The Three Essential Elements of Love
- In Relationship with a Divorced Dad: Ground Rules
SingleDad In Love, Again
- Dating a Divorced Dad – Version 2.0 Updated
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)
image: modern dating, creative commons usage