Online Dating: Some Reasons to Try It

This post has been on my “to-write” list since I started this blog.  Since I haven’t written a purely practical post in a while, I decided it was time to share some of the benefits I’ve learned can come from using online dating websites to meet people.  It’s a topic my single friends ask me about fairly frequently.  (Actually, my married friends are curious about it, too… sometimes a little too curious! 😉 )

First, a little bit of background: I spent about a year and a half exploring online dating sites and went on several dates with different people.  I do have a few “crazy” stories, and I tend to tell those stories most often, simply because they’re more fun to tell… but those crazy stories are actually a small portion of what was predominantly an experience of meeting and enjoying the company of kind and interesting men.  I stopped dating about a year ago, but for personal reasons, not because the experience hadn’t been helpful. So, when my friends ask me about my experiences with online dating, I try to balance any crazy stories I might tell with these equally truthful benefits I’ve found online dating can provide…
  • You gain dating experience.  I don’t have any statistics or anything, but from what I’ve seen, young singles (meaning just-out-of-college-age or younger)–especially young Christian singles–haven’t really been on dates.  Instead, they “hang out” a lot and then starting “going out” which usually means they hang out with a label for months at a time.  Before I started meeting people through online dating websites, I’d been in a few relationships, but I hadn’t had many real “dates.”  So, going on dates was a new experience, and frankly, good practice… from how to navigate conversations to dealing with the always-super-awkward issue of who is paying.
  • You avoid the “Is this actually a date?” conundrum.  There’s none of that “I think this is a date, because he asked me if I wanted to have lunch… but I’m not sure because he didn’t actually ask me TO lunch and maybe we’re just two friends having lunch?”  If you met on a website where people go to find dates, it’s a date.  Simple.
  • You realize you’re attractive. If dating doesn’t happen naturally in your normal setting (work, church, etc.), it’s easy to tell yourself it’s because no one’s interested in you… when it often has more to do with there just aren’t date-able people around you, or people around you aren’t interested in dating in general.  Probably one of the most valuable (and surprising) parts of meeting guys was realizing that there were people that were interested in me (and even attracted to me).  This isn’t to say that I didn’t encounter my share of discouragement and disappointment along the way, because I certainly did, and you probably will, too… but if you really give it a try, I bet you’ll find some encouragement, too.
  • You meet interesting people.  I learned a lot from the guys I met for dates.  I learned about different types of jobs, new things about the area where I live, and different things that people do for fun.  Regardless of whether you end of dating a person more than once or even long-term, everyone has an interesting story.
Having said all of that… you don’t have to try online dating.  Some people try it and think it’s great… some people try it and hate it.  Most people (like me) are somewhere in between.  Your reaction will have something to do with your expectations.  If you expect to fall in love and marry the first person you meet, then, well, you’ll probably be disappointed.  But if you go into it with the attitude that you’ll meet some interesting new people, learn some things about yourself along the way, then you’re probably more likely to have your expectations met.  Maybe you’ll find a possibility for a relationship, and maybe you won’t… but the process has a lot to offer to prepare you for when you do find someone for the long-term.
**I can’t really end this without a word about safety.  Mostly… just be smart.  Don’t tell people your last name (certainly not until you’ve met them).  Don’t tell people where you work, where you live, where you go to church.  Know your google-ability… realize that even just knowing your city, your first name, and your occupation, it’s not too hard for someone to figure out who you are.  If you start e-mailing from your own e-mail, make sure your settings have only your first name attached to your address.  When you do start meeting people, meet in a public place familiar to you, and tell a friend where you’re going to be.  Tell your friend you’ll call after the meeting and ask them to call you if you don’t.  Most online dating websites will have their own list of safety tips… so read them and follow them.
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