For some people, it's an absolute godsend. If you're skint and don't have time to go out and meet people in bars, if you're kind of shy in real life or even if you feel that everyone is on Tinder and POF anyway so it's no use trying to meet people in 'real life' then, of course, online dating is your answer.
Online dating has led to some great things. I know friends that have met their serious other halves by logging online and we all know there are plenty of stories about people who have met and gone on to get married by forgoing the traditional way of looking for love.
Then there's the bad, too. The weirdos. The horror stories. The fact that deep down you still wish you could meet someone offline in more 'normal' circumstances.
But what surprises me the most is just how socially acceptable it is to online date these days. Years and years ago, I'd be embarrassed at the thought. I wouldn't tell my friends in the fear that they'd judge me and think I'm not good enough to find someone in real life. But with the rise of Tinder, it seems pretty much everyone has taken a dip into the online dating pool and shared their experiences.
ITS SO HARD TRYING TO 'SELL' YOURSELF
Okay, 'selling yourself' sounds dodge, but when you write that little (or long) bio, you are essentially selling yourself and it's so hard thinking of what to write. You want to share your best parts without giving too much away and with a bit of air and mystery, too. But you also want to stand out. I always feel tempted to put some sort of forewarning like 'don't message me if you're going to waste my time, please' but it always sounds rather rude. And it's so hard to get your profile information to a genuinely acceptable length. I tend to start with the basics (age/personality type/what I'm addicted to currently - aka basically my Twitter headline) and then spend a couple of sentences listing my likes. Then I'll vaguely write what I'm looking for on said website, aka dating-to-see-where-it-leads when really I mean dating-but-I-want-it-to-lead-to-a-relationship, and sometimes I throw in final line like often needing a plus one to snazzy blog/work events. Because yes, in all honesty, if I've been talking to someone cute but we haven't been on a date yet, I have used that excuse more than once, insisting a friend has bailed on me and I need a last minute plus one.
Is my logic sound? Well, I don't think I have the ideal bio, but I think it's the right length and it's the right balance of revealing without sharing too much.
...AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON PICTURES
God, trying to find the perfect pictures to upload ARE THE WORST. It's so easy for guys. For them, it's a photo of: them in a gym, pulling a stupid pose with about fifteen guy mates (and some guys have this as every single photo like mate, how am I supposed to know which one is you?!), standing on top of a mountain with hands on hips, overlooking some landscape and usually a photo with a puppy/baby thrown in. For girls, it's a lot different. You want to use your prettiest photos, but also some realistic ones too because let's face it, you don't always look as amazing and as done up as that glam night out. I also include a photo with a friend, and at least one or two photos that are great for conversation starters. Cue photo of me and friend posing next to a giant c*ck in Amsterdam. I also try and have one full length smart photo, like me in a lovely dress from a wedding or something. I absolutely do not ever use a overly flirty or revealing photo but hey, each to their own. It may work for some people..!
ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
This is a tough one and it took me so long to learn to start listening to my instincts. Even now I struggle. If you're talking to a guy and something seems off then chances are, something is. I've spoken to guys that have been way too over friendly (who have turned out to be f*ckboys), or way, way too flirty for a first conversation (again, f*ckboys), and sometimes even guys that have just been so half-assed with their conversation. It took me ages to realize that yes, they're good looking but no, they're still not good for me. With the swipe-generation of online dating and the fact that it moves so quickly these days, trust me when I say there's really no point making time for these guys. Delete and move on.
My friend got me this book for Christmas as a joke..!
SOME GUYS ARE JUST AFTER ONE THING
Yeah, I mean duh, right, but some guys really are just after one thing, even if they've stated otherwise. It's alarming how many guys are actually after just some online fun (not even real life fun, jeez!) and will try to initiate it after a five minute conversation. No, I don't want phone/cyber sex with a complete stranger thank you very much.
TRY TO BE MORE OPEN MINDED
This one is a given but it's really important to be more open minded when it comes to online dating. I know a lot of it is looks-based, but I tend to try and be as least shallow as possible. There are plenty of guys I've got talking to on these types of websites who, looks wise aren't my type (as in not rocker etc) but have been ever so lovely to talk to. Much of the time, I've had amazing conversations with guys I wouldn't even look twice at in the street (and I don't mean that in an ugly/good looking sense, I'm very much the type of person who doesn't care about looks anyway, but I mean in a sense that looks wise I definitely go for guys in skinny jeans with messy hair etc and a good looking guy who doesn't look like this is probably less likely to catch my eye). In the past, I've gone on to date people for around six months, even though when we first started talking I had my doubts because they weren't my type. So it just goes to show, its never worth logging on looking for a set thing with a set type.
GET THOSE DATES IN, STAT
As stated before, with the introduction of Tinder, online dating moves very quickly. It's because there's always someone else at your fingertips just one swipe away. If you're talking to someone and it's not going as well as you'd hoped, it's very very easy for someone else to pop up and occupy your attention and for the other person to be forgotten about. Another thing about online dating is it's obviously nice to speak to someone and click with them but it's also easy to cover so much in just a matter of hours. If you progress to whatsapp, in just a day you could already learn about someone's relationship history, their goals in life and what their family are like. Which means when it comes to actually meeting up in person, all the basics have already been covered and there's little to talk about. So, if you can, always try and arrange a date as soon as possible, even if it is nerve wracking. Sometimes it's best to just arrange a quick cup of coffee before going your separate ways and then arranging more dates after, because at least then you've got past the online stage and have already met.
THE TIMEFRAME SEEMS DIFFERENT
It's also very easy to feel like things have gone a lot further than they actually have. When you speak for weeks on end, even if you've not met in person or have only been on one date, it's so easy to feel like you're already 'dating' or 'seeing' someone, which means everything that comes after happens quite quickly. If you have a five date rule before sex in general but you've been on two dates and have been speaking for five weeks, you're probably going to want to break that.
By all means do if it feels right, but keep in mind that things like meeting the parents/labelling yourselves as dating may or may not happen in a quicker timeframe as usual. I find it important to remember to slow things down a bit and just try and remind myself that even if I've been speaking to someone every single day for the past few weeks, it doesn't mean we're seeing each other. It's still early days yet and there's still plenty of chances for it to go wrong - don't put all your eggs in one basket until, y'know, things get to that point in real life.
FINALLY, DON'T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY
No matter what you're looking for online, at the end of the day, just see it as a bit of fun. Don't log on hoping to find the love of your life (even if you might in the end!) and take it with a pinch of salt. It took a while for my head to get around the fact that online dating is just a regular part of our generation now. Go on dates with people you wouldn't normally. If you start speaking to an insanely good looking guy and click well but he's not after a relationship - if you're comfortable with it, say f*ck it and go on a date with him anyway. It might lead to more. It might not.
At the end of the day, even the bad dates will give you a funny story and will help you learn what to avoid in future. And online dating is also a great way to get back to basics and check in with YOU. Spending time on your profile can help you evaluate what you do and don't like in your life currently, and online dating will soon help you realize what you will and won't tolerate in a relationship.
And, it's fun. It's always fun to go on a date with a cute boy who digs you and wants to kiss you.