Monday, January 29, 2018

16 Online Dating Tips Singles Should Know

Crystal holding her boyfriend's hand.

Several months ago I announced I was joining the online dating scene. It was mostly for a social experiment, to see how people reacted to me, a woman with a facial difference. But, surprisingly, an online dating experiment became less of an experiment – especially when I met a man who would soon become my boyfriend.

Once I announced I was doing the whole online dating thing, questions came in. And after I announced I met a man on the sites, who was officially my boyfriend? Even more questions about online dating flooded in. And now it's time to answer some of those questions.

I know, I know – many of you are wanting more details about the guy I call my boyfriend – but I'll share more about him soon...I promise! He and I have been talking about fun ways you can get to know him, so stay tuned for that.

One of the most common questions I received about online dating is, "Do you have any advice? Is there anything I should know?"

Thinking about my experiences in the digital dating scene, here are a few suggestion for you:

1. Know that people can sometimes find you on social media by your cellphone number. Put your phone number in the search bar of Facebook. Does your profile pop up? If it does, you may want to check your settings and protect your privacy.

2. You can get a burner number. There are apps that let you create burner numbers. If someone asks for your number on the dating sites, you don't have to use your own phone number. That way, if things get awkward or weird, you can burn that number and you never have to talk to that person again. I didn't do this – but I wish I had.

3. Have friends go with you on your first dates. Your date doesn't have to know they're there. They can be hidden in the background. They can be sitting in a booth across the room, or two tables over. Wherever they are during your date, they're there if things go wrong. They are there if something seems off, if the guy isn't what he appeared to be online. Have a friend there who has your back, just in case.

4. Don't go in for a hug the first time you meet. Not everyone is a hugger, especially when it comes to practical strangers at the beginning of a first date. This especially can make women feel very uncomfortable. Two weeks of chatting online doesn't mean you've earned a hug, or any form of physical contact. Even if the date goes well, don't expect a hug at the end. You can be blunt and tell her, "This is the awkward part of saying goodbye – should we shake hands? Hug? High five?" Give options. Leave it in the woman's ballpark.

5. Don't ask a girl to pull up a coupon on her phone – especially on a first date. I love being frugal and saving money. I love a good coupon. A lot of women do. But let's save the coupons for several dates down the line. Instead, if you can't afford a specific venue or restaurant – pick a place you can afford. 

6. Always be prepared to go Dutch. For older generations, it was a given that the guy were to pay for the meal or activity on a date. But, every date I went on, I took money and planned to pay for my own meal – just in case. I also know women who insist on paying for their own meals, at least for the first couple of dates with a man. Some of my friends have found themselves in situation where men paid for their meal, only to have expectations for the end of the date.

7. Ask your date questions. Don't do all the talking. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. I once went on a date where the guy talked about video games for the first hour, before even asking how I was doing. It was impossible to get a word in, and I probably only got 100 words in during my three hours with him. And even though he did all the talking, I didn't learn much about him – except that he enjoyed playing video games. Get to know your date, and let them get to know you too. There's a reason they said "yes" to the date, or a reason they asked you out. Don't allow the opportunity of getting to know the person sitting across from you go to waste – even if your time together doesn't lead to a relationship.

8. If your date is a talker, listen. If you're on a date with a talker and you can't get a word in, that's OK. There is a pro to this. Even if they're talking about something that's not typically a go-to topic in your life, and even if you don't foresee a second date, listen. Take the opportunity to learn from the person sitting across from you. You may learn something new about finances, security systems, or video games that you never knew before – knowledge that may come in handy at some point in life...Even if you don't expect it to.

9. Don't ask for a second date during the first date. Let the girl process the evening before asking her to commit to a second evening with you. Instead, indicate you want to see her again. Tell her you had a wonderful time. It's even OK to say, "I hope to see you again." But, if you ask for a second date during the first – she may not feel comfortable to tell you "no" – especially if you're still a stranger she barely knows.

10. If anything makes you uncomfortable, say so. If they ask for a first-date selfie and that makes you uncomfortable, say so. If they go in for that hug during the first five seconds of your first date, step away. It's OK to let your feelings be known. During a date, one guy asked me for my last name. Because it's easy to Google me, I wasn't comfortable giving it to him. Not on the first or second date, at least. When he asked, I was direct and told him it was easy to learn about me in the digital world, from my blog to places like People Magazine – if he wanted to get to know me, he needed to do that through me. In the end, he understood and I was glad I stayed within my comfort zone.

11. Always have a pair of cute backup shoes with you. I drove three hours for a first date with a guy (now my boyfriend), and one of my shoes broke. Because this was a first date, I had people who went with me – just in case. But, no one had any glue, and I didn't have time to go to the store before meeting the guy for lunch. Putting our creative minds together, I ended up on an 8 1/2 hour date with a shoe that was "gummed" (when chewed up gum is used in place of glue) and clipped together. It was almost like a modern Cinderella story...But with gum.

12. You don't owe anyone a second date. Or a third. In fact, you don't even owe them a first date if something feels off during the messaging process.

13. Be persistent and intentional, but not overbearing. If you are interested in someone, pursue them with intention. But, if you don't hear back, texting them or calling them multiple times back-to-back isn't the answer...and that's likely to get you blocked. Instead, call once every few days for about a week or so, and leave a short voicemail. 

14. If you go on a few dates with someone, don't ghost them. Gently and kindly let them know you're not interested and why. Don't leave them wondering what went wrong, or what happened. (Unless the situation doesn't feel safe. Then ghosting and blocking is totally appropriate.)

15. Remember that you're incredible. Meeting new people and going on dates can be terrifying. I get that. But here's the thing – you're amazing. As you go out there and take the dating scene by storm, always be yourself. Stay true to who you are. Be genuine, be confident. You can never go wrong by being yourself.

16. Don't ever settle. Because remember...You're incredible. You deserve the very best. You deserve that person that makes your heart beat a little faster every time you see them. You deserve that person who challenges you to be a better person, who believes in your dreams and talents, and that person who you love being around. Do. Not. Settle. 

If you have any online dating questions, feel free to let me know! Send me a message on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment in the comment box below.

The Travelin' Chick,