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When I put out the request for your adventures in the world of online dating, I wasn’t prepared for the wide variety of responses. I learned a lot from you—thanks for sharing! Since there was so much information, I’m going to break this into two parts, just to do your stories justice.

Oh, and the names have been changed to protect, well, everyone.

So these are Kendra’s Rules for Successful (or at least not Terrible) Online Dating. I’d say Kendra’s Five Rules, but who knows what I’ll learn from you in the next week.

  1. Choose your service wisely.

When I finally broke down and decided to go online, I first selected Christian Café. It was affordable and Christian (haha), so I thought it’d be a good place to start. Plus, I have this eensy-weensy tendency to abhor that which is popular—that’s why I avoided eHarmony and Match.

In some respects, while searchable services give you a wider pool, they are more work—you have to spend hours sorting through profiles, knowing nothing about the other person. I met a few great guys on there and loads of creeps. (It turns out I have sexy feet. Who knew?)

You also need to be willing to start over if it seems a service isn’t working for you. After about four months on CC, I switched to eHarmony on a whim and decided to purchase a six-month subscription. On a shallow note, I loved the clean layout after the darker pages on CC. While initially I was talking to less men, the ones I met and eventually dated were actually guys that I really liked and enjoyed spending time with. Well, except for that one guy who didn’t even pay for my latte after I got up early for a first date on New Year’s Day. Who does that to a girl?

My man is quite sold out on the compatibility matching of eHarmony. He feels like it takes the guesswork out of whether you’ll get along, and ensures that you’re not going out just because the other person is hot. Even if they are. 😉

If you like being in control or simply don’t like being constrained, you might prefer one of the searchable services. In the end, I met my man on eHarmony, but plenty of people have had success elsewhere. One of them I’ll be talking about in part 2.EHprofile.jpg

  1. Be honest

You are looking for a long-term, quality relationship, are you not? Then start it out with the truth. Dishonesty is one of the six Love Busters, according to Dr. Harley. Tell the truth with your profile, your pictures (we all want to post the perfect ones, but make sure they actually look like you), and with your communication. Be honest about your comfort level, and when it’s time to end a relationship. Don’t waste anyone’s time trying to be nice. And good grief, if you’re going to stop talking to someone, tell them. Don’t just drop off the face of the earth. That’s just wrong.

(Hmmm. Do I sound bitter?)

  1. Work it like a part-time job. Seriously.

This one and number five are probably the two hardest points. I’m assuming you already have a full-time job, and maybe even one or two part-time jobs, not to mention a full life, friends, family, and hobbies. But in order to get any benefit out of this service, you have to work it.

For me, that looked like an hour or more each evening (even when on vacation or business trips) reviewing matches, sending emails, closing matches, responding to emails, and whining about how much of a pain it all was. Oh, wait! I did the complaining pretty much constantly.

If you’re looking for a quality relationship, you can’t just sign up, set up your profile and wait for The One to email and sweep you off your seat. That’s kind of like buying a franchise and sitting back expecting to make a killing. Success in any endeavor takes work, unless you’re truly one of the charmed ones. But since you’re thinking about going online, I’m guessing that’s not the case—at least not in your dating life.

From my days of applying for jobs, I remember this one principle: keep 7-10 potential positions in the mix at all time, because 8-9 of them will fall away through no fault of yours. In the dating world it means this: see and talk to multiple people until you determine that you are serious about someone and want an exclusive relationship. But also be honest that you are seeing and talking to multiple people. It all goes back to honesty.

Since this is just part 1, I definitely welcome any comments or stories you might want to share. You can make part 2 even better than it already is!

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