Online dating is becoming more widespread and accepted. If you’re single, you will no doubt be advised to set up an online profile. I’ve heard (and experienced) many heartwarming, hilarious and outrageous stories about the wild, weird and wonderful world of the online dater.
Online dating can be fun and exciting. But it can also be fickle and disappointing. The thing about popular dating website Plenty of Fishis that there are, quite literally, plenty of fish floating around cyberspace. And all these little fishies are hoping to fall hook, line and sinker (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in love or, for many, in lust.
The frustrating and often confusing aspect to online dating is that you could be exchanging flirty emails with a potential partner when he/she suddenly stops replying. You may have even arranged a date only to receive a last-minute cancellation text.
On the upside, there’s so much choice. The flip side is that you have no idea how many other fishies your charmer is chatting up and even simultaneously dating.
If you’re dabbling in online dating and are feeling fed up and let down, why not change tactics? Take all the good stuff on offer and use it to your advantage. Follow these seven tips to make the most of your online experience:
1. Be grateful that there are many interesting, attractive people out there who are single and oh-so-ready to mingle.
Also, give gratitude for t’internet. What a quick, easy way to meet new people. You’ll save yourself time, money and manys the hangover using this method of finding someone.
2. Havefun on your trawling expeditions. Think of your browsing sessions as shopping sprees. And if you happen to make a special connection with somebody, then happy days!
3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s not just men who feel the pressure to follow up and settle down. First dates with a stranger can be nerve-racking. Will you fancy them? If not, should you give them a chance anyway? Will they want to meet you again? What if they try to kiss you or attempt to get you into bed? How will your in-laws get on? [Yes. Your mind manages to reach crazy levels of hypothesising if left unchecked.]
Take the pressure and expectation down a notch by mailing lots of different users and going on dozens of dates. It does get easier. And, even if you do like your date, it doesn’t mean you have to marry them. Now’s the time to enjoy and get to know one another. There’ll be plenty of time to get serious.
4. Enjoy meeting new and interesting people. If you stay present on your dates, you’ll see (and enjoy) how magnificent the situation is. Regale your friends and family with hilarious stories. Heck, write a book about it and make some moolah!
5. Give yourself a good pep talk. Eleanor Roosevelt said: “What other people think of me is none of my business.” It really isn’t you, it’s all about them. It only becomes about you when you react a certain way. They don’t know you so they can’t reject you. They may have met someone else more suitable to their current taste. Or you may just not be their type. We all have different preferences, thankfully. It doesn’t mean that you’re not gorgeous, loveable or perfect for your perfect partner. Also, if you think about the big picture, this perceived rejection could have spared you a terrible date or left you open for something better to come your way.
The other day, I had to stand in a long queue. Two toddlers met for the first time. Loudly and excitedly, they shared scooters and hugs and told one another that they were best friends. When one had to part, they cried and wailed. One minute later, a new toddler joined the line. The other child stopped crying, walked right up to the new kid and asked: “Will you be my best fwend?” Moments later, they were playing and laughing enthusiastically. We could learn a lot from kids, eh?
6. And finally, keep living and looking offline too. You could still meet the love of your life in a sweaty nightclub or in the café you’d always daydreamed about. Just because he/she isn’t carrying a banner including their stats and an ‘About Me’ section doesn’t mean they’re not available. Be sociable, live life and have fun. You’re most attractive when you’re happy with your life and who you are. So keep smiling.
First dates are nerve-racking exercises. You’re meeting up with someone you hardly know (or may not have even met yet) with the purpose of deciding whether the two of you may be suited as a couple. Talk about pressure! Questions and concerns swirl around your frazzled head: What if I don’t fancy this person? What if I make a fool of myself? They might not like my style. They could be an axe murderer.
I’ve often wished that I’d never agreed to go on a date in the first place. I’d prefer to curl up with a book in the safety of my own home and live vicariously through fictional heroines playing out their lustful encounters. But you’ve already promised to meet this possible stalker/love of your life. Here are some tips for surviving that anxiety-inducing first date.
1) Do it
This tip may be stating the obvious but some people get cold feet and cancel, or even worse, stand up their dates at the last minute. It’s not the title of a best-selling book for nothing so “feel the fear and do it anyway”. What we stress about is rarely as bad as we’d forecast. You may even enjoy yourself, meet someone new and interesting, and possibly fall in love. You’ll wonder why you worried your little head in the first place.
2) Have a metaphorical ejector seat ready
If you’re really unsure of your date’s character or whether or not you’ll die of boredom/fear, have a back-up plan arranged before you go for that drink. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and always rendezvous in a public place. We’ve all watched enough CSI, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds to entertain the possibility of rape and/or murder. If the date is going pear-shaped, send a sneaky text to a sibling or best friend, and when they call you, gasp in appropriate amounts of horror and concern. Then, give your unsuspecting date your “sincere” apologies for having to rush to the hospital/vet/police station.
I went on a date with a German guy a few years back. We strolled through the Englischer Garten on a balmy Friday evening. How romantic, I thought. This shows that he’s different. And different he was. He spent the whole time pontificating about God, sociology and literature, and how he doesn’t drink alcohol or believe in true love. The guy didn’t even like sunshine for crying out loud, instead preferring to spend his summers sweating over encyclopedias in Munich’s library. It was time for the ejector seat text. Five minutes later, I hopped on the U-Bahn, smiling with relief as I sped off to an imaginary flooding in my student digs.
3) Ask questions
Most people love talking about themselves. So, feed into this by asking lots of questions. It’ll also give you a chance to take a few deep breaths and settle your nerves as you allow them to waffle on. And how else are you going to find out if you share the same passion for The Cure and scuba diving? Show an interest in the person and in their job and hobbies. But if your eyes are glazing over and you’re swimming in and out of consciousness as they drone on and on about bondholders or fly fishing, change the subject. There’s no point in feigning interest in a subject that makes you want to rip your eyelashes out. Maybe you’re just not suited as a couple but your date won’t realise this if you make like a nodding dog throughout the whole conversation.
Don’t make the mistake of acting like the next Vincent Browne. Too many questions may make your date feel like they’re being interrogated. Recently, I had a date with a shy younger man. I felt the need to fill the awkward silences by asking question after question after question. I knew I was doing it but I just couldn’t help myself. I never saw the terrified crater again.
4) Be open
Tell your date you’re nervous. It’s more than likely that he/she is too and this will help break the ice, and show the person that you’re only human. If you want to go home after just one drink, tell your date this. There’s no point in dragging out the night for the sake of being polite. You’ll only spend more money, drink more than you’d planned, and lead on the person you’re squirming beside.
5) Don’t get drunk
This is very tempting and easy to do on a first date. You’re shaking with the nerves and there’s nothing you’d like to do more than down five pints of cider. But with this mass consumption of alchohol come the not so helpful beer goggles. This strategy will leave you in the exact same predicament as you were in before the date. Do you actually like/fancy the person or did the booze make you do it? If you want to get to know a person without the booze-fogged spectacles, or you can’t trust yourself not to do shots with this almost stranger, how about going for coffee instead?
6) You can’t hurry love
Don’t expect to feel that lightning bolt of lust and romance straight away. It takes time to get to know a person. Enjoy the process. Also, don’t jump into bed with each other. There’s something magical about that in-between stage so why not bask in it? Employ the delayed gratification approach. Court each other and go on dates. Some schools of thought insist that men are like hunters who love the chase. And if a woman gives it up too easily, they’ll lose interest. This may be the case for some men but if they’re any way more advanced than their primal ancestors, this shouldn’t be a problem. I know of couples who are still together and madly in love years after their “one-night stand”. However, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. And it’s not a bad idea to decide if you can stand the person before you have a one-night stand.
7) Don’t oversell a version of yourself that doesn’t actually exist
Yes, put on your war paint/lucky knickers/favourite shirt/Lynx aftershave. You’re dressing to impress after all. But don’t play games or present an image of the person you think your date wants to be with. This will only lead to disappointment, resentment, and a hell of a lot of work to keep up the façade. If the thought of wearing stilettos and a tight dress brings you out in a rash, don’t force yourself into them on a first date. You’ll only be uncomfortable for the night and you’ll be pretending to be someone you’re not.
8. Break the ice
Do something different. A fun activity will zap the nerves. Even if you don’t fancy each other, at least you’ll enjoy yourselves. Go ice skating, laugh it up at a comedy club, try go-karting, go to a gig. I’d vote against going to the cinema on a first date. You won’t get to chat and you probably won’t be able to concentrate on the film anyway because you’ll be too busy debating whether or not to throw the arm around.
9) White lies and honesty
White lies were invented to get us out of cringeworthy situations without hurting the other’s feelings. There’s nothing wrong with making up an excuse to make life easier for both parties. Once, I went on a date with a guy I’d gotten to know over the internet. The moment I walked into the bar, I knew he wasn’t for me. We had absolutely nothing in common, and the thought of kissing him made me throw up a little in my mouth (true story). So when, after two glasses of Guinness, he asked if I wanted another drink “for the road”, I told him I was a light weight and simply couldn’t handle another. When he tried to take my hand as we walked out of the pub, I busied myself with putting on gloves, a hat, a scarf, and buttoning up my coat. He offered to drive me home. I told him I was meeting a friend. When he still wasn’t getting the hint after all those subtle attempts to let him down easy, I told him I wasn’t over my ex and therefore, was not ready for a new relationship. Then, I ran. This didn’t stop him from begging for reasons by text and by email. “Do I look different from my pictures?”, “What did I do wrong?”, “Did I waste your time?” Actually, maybe lying wasn’t such a good idea after all. If all the lying isn’t getting you anywhere (like in the case above), tell the truth. Honesty rarely lets you down. So, I told him we just had nothing in common. And I haven’t heard from him since. Check out this short film about being completely honest on a first date.
10) Keep your options open
Don’t settle for the first half-decent person who shows an interest in you. Just because you’ve gone on one date, doesn’t mean you’ve lost your single status. Think of yourself as a soon-to-be bride sampling lots of wedding cakes before deciding on “the one” for her wedding day. How can you find out which is most suitable/tastiest if you don’t try out a number of them? This can be a fun process. So, get out there and enjoy whittling down your options.
Finally, enjoy the date. You’re lucky enough to be in demand. Think of all the bored folk sat at home with only their remote controls for company. The nerves will soon dissipate. Just get out there and have fun.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think single life is something to be survived. It’s rather something to embrace. When you’re single, you only have yourself to worry about. You can do what you want when you want. You can sprawl star-shaped across your bed. You can watch reality TV to your heart’s content and never have to compromise. My motto is: You’re better off being single than being in a bad relationship. Some people are so afraid of being alone but you’re never lonelier than lying beside someone who doesn’t care for you or respect you.
Despite my views, I’ve decided to write about how to survive single life because we are conditioned to believe that our lives will not start until we meet “the one”. I believe that we have many “ones” out there. It’s a matter of timing. We’ll meet them when we’re ready and open to it. It’s very important to be in the right head space when you hook up with someone, otherwise you’re going to attract in someone who isn’t good for you.
The movies we’ve been watching since early childhood make meeting that special someone seem like THE most important thing in life. The ending is only satisfactory if the dizzy but adorable heroine and her floppy-haired love interest declare their undying love for each other. Heart felt love songs spout about all-consuming love, soul mates and near death heart ache. Some people think they won’t be happy and their lives won’t properly commence until they meet their future spouses.
And the type of love we’re all searching for is like some form of voluntary disease. We want to lose our appetites and ability to sleep, reason, and function. We want to miss them terribly when they’re not around. To sob into pillows and long-suffering friends’ shoulders when there’s any glitch in this supposedly perfect relationship.
Why can’t the “twin flame” type of love be romanticised? The type of love where you find a wonderful friend, who you’re attracted to, and you live your lives together in content companionship. Where you can both do your own thing and be apart from each other without one of you melting down in jealousy and neediness.
And so, as we sleep walk through our single lives, while desperately seeking our soul mates, here’s how to survive:
1) Be proactive
If you really want to settle down, don’t be fooled by those cheesy romantic comedies. You’re probably not going to lock eyes with your soul mate as you accidentally bump trolleys in Tesco. Stop waiting for it to happen. Get out there and up your chances. Try internet dating, for example. It’s become less of a stigma to become involved in virtual flirtations. Many of us interact more online than in the real world anyway, with the prevalence of Facebook, Twitter and online video games. So, lash up a cute photo of yourself, and present your witty, lovable self to the world of online dating. Don’t worry. I’ve tried it. It’s not full of weirdo geeks and serial killers. Many people simply don’t have the time, energy or lust to go out two or three nights a week any more. And as one guy ranted, “You’re just as likely to meet someone online as you are drunk in a club at 2am”. Even if nothing serious comes of it, you’ll chat to some interesting people, and get a few dates out of it. Another Friendis an example of an Irish dating website.
2) Get word out
Let your friends and work colleagues know that you’re on the market. Not many can resist the challenge of playing match maker. Before you know it, you’ll be invited to many the house party/work do/concert, where, conveniently, you’ll be introduced to “the nicest person ever who just can’t seem to find that special someone”. Snap! Even if you don’t fancy each other, at least your social life will flourish.
3) Nights out
Though we constantly complain about the price of the pint and the local club’s astronomical entrance fee, and the lack of potential in our home towns, a night out seems to do it for a lot of couples. Many’s the long-term pairing meet on the dance floor. Having said that, I don’t think the club scene is ideal. Women go there to find a boyfriend. Men go there to get laid. The men are often drunk and grabby and the women dress provocatively and dance sexilly with their female friends to get the men horny, then bitch when the men just want to sleep with them and don’t take their numbers. The pub scene is much better. It’s that bit more casual and the drunkenness hasn’t yet reached a debilitating level.
Beware- don’t go on nights out purely to find someone. Otherwise, any evening that doesn’t end in a snog/number exchange will be a disappointing waste. Go out with people you have a laugh with, put on your favourite outfit, and get your dance on.
4) Do something different
If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. So, if you’ve been going to the same club for the last 10 years, and still haven’t met anyone good enough to introduce to the ould pair, stop going there! Try a weekend by the sea and get chatting to some fun-loving surfers. Go skiing. Join a backpacking group around Central America. Camp at a cool festival either in Ireland or some unusual European destination. Try on the Traena festivalon a tiny northern Norwegian island for size. Start a hill walking or book club. Take a class in meditation. Log on to a social networking site that specialises in creating a community. Check out Yelp, a review website where you can stretch your writing muscles, participate in hilarious Talk threads, attend fun, free events and meet some interesting new people.
5) Do your own thing
Don’t wait for that mysterious stranger to sidle on side stage for the action to begin. Get a life. Find something you’re passionate about, be it your job, studies, sport, hobby, or all of the above. If you’re busy and enjoying it, you’ll have little time to worry about your non-existent other half. You want to be a whole person first, then you can meet another whole person with whom you can start a relationship. Relationships based on neediness are a recipe for disaster. As someone pointed out to me, “A half multiplied by a half equals a quarter.” If you both enter into love expecting the other person to complete you, expect mayhem.
6) Live it up!
It’s usually when I’m single or just out of a relationship that I learn most about myself and take a huge leap forward. When you’re unattached, you have time to take up Tai Chi, go for long walks by the river, hang out with mates and laugh ’til you cry. You can book that trip to China. Enjoy girlie chats or nights out with the lads. Follow that exercise regime/new diet. Get a makeover. Watch The Notebook for the forty-fifth time. Flirt your ass of with every cutie in the club. Go on dates.
Just make the most of it and enjoy it, because when you’re (finally) part of a couple, you may not have as much time or leeway to do all these fun and spontaneous things. You’ll even find yourself getting jealous of your single mates’ escapades. Grass is always greener…
Being outdoors in nature, personal development, spirituality, teaching, yoga, friends & family, sunshine, good conversation, writing, a good cuppa, swimming in the sea, books, adventure, travel, learning, laughter, fun, good food, bear hugs…
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