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I met my spouse online: 7 online dating lessons learned the hard way

Julie Morris finally found her prince through a dating website, but there was certainly a learning curve. Find out what nobody tells you when you’re an online dating newbie.
Online dating was actually less daunting than it sounded. I didn’t enjoy going out to bars, and there were no eligible men where I work, so here was a way to instantly widen the pool of men I met. And for me it certainly paid off in the end, as I did meet Kevin, my wonderful husband, on an online dating website. Over the course of my six month membership, I visited many coffee shops, over-analyzed a lot of emails, and learned more about my single self than I wanted to know. Here are the things I learned the hard way before I finally got my happy ending.

  1. Safety first -Not revealing personal details such as your address or employer and always meeting in a public location are common sense when meeting someone for the first time. If you’ve been in contact via messaging or phone you might feel familiarity with the other person, but remember that you’ve never actually met. Most importantly, follow your gut reactions. If something feels odd, it probably is. And don’t take your new date to your favorite hang-out right away. If the meeting somehow goes sour, it’s better they not know where to run into you again.

  1. Rules can be helpful, but don’t be too inflexible. But don’t be too inflexible. After numerous dates, I came to some conclusions based upon initial judgments of peoples’ profiles and communications. I didn’t date anyone whose profile picture featured them taking a selfie in the mirror. No wife-beater undershirts or speedos. Too many emoticons, grammatical errors or exclamation marks (!!!!!!!) and you’re out.

  1. Online dating communications are different. In the real world, it’s rude to leave someone hanging, but internet dating is different. At some point, you’ll begin exchanging emails with someone and then, all of a sudden, you’ll never hear from them again. Unfortunately, this is typical. The other person will cease to reply instead of informing you he or she is not interested. When this happens, it’s safe to assume they are passively communicating lack of interest and you should just move on. As I came to understand this behavior as simply the norm on dating websites, I would conveniently use it to my advantage when I was the uninterested party.

  1. Be direct even if it feels unnatural. Being direct is challenging for many people, especially women. Online dating can be a great opportunity to practice being assertive. Being direct will keep uncomfortable situations from getting worse and prevent you from wasting your time or anyone else’s. If a date is not going well, be courteous but truthful and make an early exit. 

  1. Meet sooner rather than later. Exchanging dozens of emails and phone calls before planning a date may feel safer, but meeting in person is a more effective way of gathering information. Someone might make a great pen pal on an online dating site, but turn out to be completely not your thing in the flesh. Many times virtual chemistry doesn’t translate in person. Communicate online or by phone just long enough to discern potential and then arrange a date.

  1. Keep the initial meeting casual. Test the waters by meeting for coffee or a drink. You’ve never spent time with this person so how do you know you’ll enjoy their company? You don’t want to lock yourself into having dinner or some other lengthy activity when within the first five minutes you’ll probably know if it’s not a good match. A beverage-date gives you a shorter timetable should you need it, and if you end up hitting it off, you can always grab dinner or plan a proper first date.
  1. Be honest about physical attraction. Let’s be frank; chemistry is an important part of a relationship and physical attraction plays a significant role. I’m certainly not advocating that one should place an undue priority on appearance, because character is key and attraction can develop over time. But there must be at least a bit of attraction to develop. If you aren’t physically attracted to someone at all, there’s not much to be done about it. The sooner you are honest with yourself about chemistry, the better.

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