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online dating 2Last week we talked about the first three of “Kendra’s Five Rules for Successful (or Not Terrible) Online Dating”: Choose your service wisely, be honest, and work it like a part-time job. This week we’re wrapping it up with the last two rules.

4. Be open minded

This one is slightly tricky. There’s a cautious balance between being open minded and letting go of what you genuinely want/need. So weigh that concept against everything I say.

When I began online, I was *incredibly* shy and awkward. No, really. If you know me now, take me at my most awkward and multiply by ten. It had been over ten years since I’d been in a serious relationship and everything scared me. So, my sisters being the brilliant women that they are, told me I had to date everyone who asked me out and looked safe.

Wise advice.

This got me past a large portion of my awkwardness, but it also reminded me that while I wasn’t going to end up with most of these men, they had definite friend potential, even for a short time.

Another thing I learned is that you have no idea what Mr/s. Right looks like. According to my end of things, when I was matched with my man, eHarmony told me it was a “flexible match,” meaning we didn’t line up 100% but they thought it could be a good thing. Usually I deleted these matches first thing (why settle for less than perfect, right?), but my guy was persistent in contacting me. Plus, he was a darn good writer and made me laugh so I gave him a break. But as I told a friend when I was getting dressed to go on our first date, “It’s just dinner. Seriously, nothing with this guy is going to go anywhere.”

Keep that in mind. You may know exactly what you need, you may have a faint idea what you need, or you may have absolutely no idea what you need.

And while we’re on the subject of being open minded, realize that while you are putting in your time online, Mr/s. Right could be waiting elsewhere. Keep all your options open while trying creative methods for meeting people.

5. Give it enough time

In my conversations with you all, I heard from “Emily,” who met her man on Match on the first try. I also heard from “Amy” who persistently worked Christian Café for four-and-a-half years before finding Mr. Right. Amy went through several Mr. Wrongs, but she never gave up. And…she worked it like a part-time job all those years. Can someone say exhausting?

I’ve also heard from some of you that you’ve been trying to meet someone for up to seven years with nothing but bad luck. That hurts and is beyond discouraging.

But don’t give up. If you really want this, do not give up. I swear, there is something to the saying that it’s the darkest before dawn. While I was only online for a total of nine months or so, I remember telling my dad I was throwing in the towel somewhere around January of 2010. Since my subscription ran until March or April, he said to stick it out and, well, work it like a part-time job. I huffed and sighed and flipped open my laptop again.

A week or two later I had a new dilemma: now there were two guys with serious potential. Obviously I cleared up which one was the true winner.

I don’t know what enough time looks like, but if you’re serious, don’t give up. I’ve heard it all:

“It costs too much. I can’t afford to keep this up.”

“I have bad luck. There’s no one out there for me.”

“Everyone else is just lucky.”

“I don’t have time for this.”

Not to be harsh or anything, but if you truly believe those statements, enough with the whining. Just give up in both action and desire.

I know—and I think deep down you do, too—that we make time for and budget for and work at what is important to us. So ask yourself—is finding someone important to you?

Please know that none of this is intended to be harsh. Online dating is mostly awful with good moments thrown in here and there. My only hope is that, if you truly want this, you hang in there. I’m in your corner, cheering for you. I want you to find what you want and need. I hope these five tips help you on your journey.