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...)

No comments:

Post a Comment