This month's article is dedicated to 'getting back out there' i.e. returning to the dating scene. As such, and for one month only, I write as part doctor and part man.
The reader should be aware that whilst every effort has been made to avoid content leaning towards the male 'psyche’, I apologise in advance for any comments which may seem ‘blokey’ as I am after all male.
Now if you have recently become single or are fast approaching singledom then getting back out there’ may be fairly high up on the agenda, or at least on the horizon. Life is short after all.
Years ago people used to meet at the local dance - nowadays, for many, it all starts online; there is good and bad to this but the truth is that people are far busier these days so to do some searching and screening online kind of makes sense. Even if you do have time on your hands, online dating is regarded by many users as an ‘extra iron in the fire’. That being said, the process is not without it’s drawbacks.
The simple fact is that online dating can, and does work. I know many people who met their match online and without wishing to sound too philosophical, the chances of them having met through more conventional means would have been pretty much zero. It follows therefore that one doesn’t have to necessarily wait to be part of a night out or join a night-class in order to start meeting potential partners. What’s more is that it doesn’t have to cost anything as many sites are genuinely free in every sense.
Unfortunately there are a number of bad points to online dating. At one end and on perhaps a fairly trivial note, there remains for some a stigma associated with online dating although to be fair the whole concept has become more acceptable in recent years owing simply to the widespread use of the sites. Some people however will insist on making up ‘cover stories’ on how they met their match.
When a person joins a dating site they are required to describe themselves (within a profile format) and so it almost goes without saying that some descriptive terms will be highly subjective with many puddings being over-rated. For instance the word ‘curvy’ to some women could mean just about anything from curvy to massively overweight so if big girls aren’t your thing then such a term needs to be treated with a degree of scepticism. On the other side of the coin it seems that the words ‘athletic’ and ’flat-chested’ are also terms which are fairly interchangeable. ’Strawberry blonde’ can potentially cover a wide range of hair tints from a light blonde to sunset ginger and so it goes on.
Pictures also have to be taken at face value as one can often be ‘caught out’. Most people who do upload a picture will naturally use their best picture - the fact that this may have been taken on holiday 10 years ago seems to be regarded by some folk as unimportant. On a more positive note, the camera can sometimes lie and so if you’re lucky you could actually end up meeting up with a surprise gem.
The all-important profile
Some people are terribly negative and scathing in these profiles which is fine if you need to vent, but if you’re looking to attract a potential partner then it would be best to keep the profile upbeat, positive and to avoid political or highly charged content. People should essentially regard it as a kind of CV which in essence is a tool to put you in the best light possible.
‘Breaking the ice’ on line
Ok so you’ve joined up, filled in the necessary, uploaded a recent (fully clothed) picture and seen somebody you like the look and sound of. Time to send a message. Now people use different starting blocks here - some use humour whereas some keep it simple and straight talking. There is no right or wrong here and you have to go with what you are comfortable with but where possible try to tailor or personalise your message so the recipient knows it has been written with them specifically in mind. Following on from this is a very important ‘take-home’ message; with online dating, people can be cruel and hard, perhaps more so than they would otherwise be in real life. As such, not to receive a response to a message is sadly ’par for the course’ and is naturally a bit of a blow; if you can develop even a slightly thick skin it may well stand you in good online stead. As in ‘real life’ some people will receive lots of attention on there so understandably may not respond to all messages - if this happens to you it will almost certainly be best just to gracefully accept this and move on - to follow up with a second message would be pointless.
Arranging to meet
This may seem fairly obvious but when all is said and done the person you are meeting is essentially a stranger, so meet in a public place and tell someone where you’re going.
Be yourself and try to be confident - many people suffer confidence issues and without realising it are attracted to people who have this quality which they themselves lack (opposites attract as the saying goes). More importantly though, do try and enjoy the whole experience of getting to know a stranger. It may be that you know within 30 seconds that you don’t find the person physically attractive but do remember that the person has given up some time to meet up, may actually be fantastic company and a great friend to know potentially - so there is nothing to be lost by spending some time over a coffee etc.
By all means have a drink but it would be best not to get drunk with someone you don’t know, and infact herein lies a safety message for the chaps as well. It maybe that the evening has gone so well that you both end up addressing the question of ’your place or theirs’. Whilst the women should consider their personal safety here, so do the men have to consider their ‘reputational’ safety - we’ve all heard of drunk fuelled sexual liaisons taking place whence the woman has had regrets after the event, and the chap having to justify himself in court. Get to know and trust each other and hopefully you can both avoid potential trouble.
This subject is far from romantic but the truth is that sexual diseases are here to stay, many of which are on the increase.
The person you meet may well look like the picture of health who attends the gym regularly and eats their ‘5-a-day’. However, and rather worryingly, many people whether they acknowledge it or not will actually let someone’s background and physical appearance influence their decision on whether they are likely to carry an STD or not. This is incredible. Moreover some people rationalise the move towards enjoying a sexual relationship on having ‘got to know the person’ better. What exactly does this mean? If you spend time with each other be it enjoying a drink, a bite to eat or a trip to the cinema, does this time spent somehow screen the person for occult sexual diseases? Of course not, so regardless of what the person does for a job, what they look like, how many partners they say they’ve had etc., get yourselves checked out at an STD clinic.
There is a saying… ‘people enter your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ but whatever happens enjoy the journey, be safe and good luck!