Sunday, June 7, 2009

The cocktail party

Think of internet dating as a giant cocktail party with lots of unmarried people. In the early stages of any interaction, you're in essentially the same place you'd be with a successful flirtation at a party. It's fun, all right, but you really don't know where you stand.

One of the things that I think a lot of people struggle with in online dating is the burden of expectations.

You've advertised your availability by virtue of having a profile up, and you've advertised your interest by either contacting someone or by responding positively to their contact. In old-fashioned courtship, of course, we're generally a bit more coy than that. But now you and the mark have already indicated mutual interest. So there's mutual interest, and a nice correspondence, and maybe even a fun coffee date. Full speed ahead on the romance, right?

Of course not (but you knew that). What's going on? Who knows? The point is that, as with the person at the party, you know very little at this stage, and you shouldn't be assuming too much.

There might be somebody else waiting in the wings. Important point in internet dating: assume there's someone in the wings. There's either somebody they've already been out with, or someone who's caught their eye who they haven't yet been out with. It's not right or wrong; it's just the landscape.

They might like you, and think you're a hoot, and think you're hot, and all sorts of other good things, but they might be wary -- maybe you've got some deal-breaker that makes a serious relationship with them problematic.

They might have a secret, dark or otherwise, that they're withholding for tactical reasons, like they're considering an out-of-state job but want to keep their dating options open in case they stay.

The point is that you don't know where you stand, and shouldn't expect much. Just enjoy the party, enjoy the sense of possibility, keep an open mind, and keep mingling. If that one great conversation leads somewhere, great, but if it doesn't, don't be surprised or hurt. (We'll spot you a bit of disappointment, however...)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Here's why

If you're single and reading this, you'd probably like a partner. You might be doing fine without one, but we're social creatures by nature, and almost all of us want someone to hold us, to talk to us, and to stand beside us. We are happiest when we have strong and successful relationships with other human beings. And generally speaking, strong, successful romantic relationships make us the happiest of all.

So how do you find a partner? We know a fair number of single women of a certain age, and a consistent theme that we hear from them is that they want to meet a guy the old-fashioned way. But none of them seem to notice that they rarely actually meet guys that way. Which is why internet dating exists in the first place.

Sure, you might meet someone in the course of your everyday life, and that should be part of your dating strategy. (A second part of your strategy should be to get over the word strategy, as though there's something horribly unromantic about it.)

Important note: having an actual romance is way more romantic than not having one, regardless of how it was arranged.

The simple fact is that you can find and contact a lot more prospective partners online than you can by going to work and back, and going out a couple of times a week, and waiting to see what happens. How many interesting prospects have you met that way this week? Yeah, that's what I thought. But if you were using the right online dating service, and logged on right now, you'd have between a few and a bunch to sift through, just like that.

In four years of dating before I met Nancy, I'd estimate that I met four times as many women online as I did in the course of my everyday life, and I was going out and doing different things all the time. Of course, Nancy was one of the ones I met online, and it scarcely bears mentioning that there's no way I'd have met her the old-fashioned way.

I hope you'll concede that internet dating is likely as efficient a way as any to identify prospective candidates. What remains, then, is to overcome your objections. If you keep reading this blog, we just might get you over those...