November 12, 2012

Why Online Dating Hasn't Worked For Me

What Mandy Thinks: "Words of Advice" post
I've read and reread a great book lately called "The Getting Naked Experiment" (  It's basic premise is that you need to be fully accepting of yourself and an universal truth about dating before you can get out there and expect something healthy to come your way.  This universal truth is that millions of people will not want you but thousands could, and out of those thousands only a chunk of those thousands will be those you would want.  That's still a lot of people when you factor in the entire world's population, but this is the truth and we all just need to DEAL WITH IT (in a good way, acceptance people)!  Whether you believe in one soul mate or several, this still means every single person has several options all the time and always will.

In order to find this chunk of awesome people that will mutually want you, put yourself in "more rooms" as the book suggests.  One of those rooms is internet dating.

Before reading this book, dating was low priority for me logically.  I was in college, dealing with four jobs and five classes that interchanged every three months continuously for almost three solid years.  My last year when I dropped some jobs and class load was when I signed up for three popular online dating services at the same time.   It's safe to say that none of them worked at the time.  The first promised more complete matches that had the most potential for me (filling out tons of mandatory hard questions and was the most expensive).  The second promised I'd get more dates and find more people to meet (less stuff to fill out and it cost a little less).  The third promised I'd meet a lot of awesome people but it was more towards finding dates and friends in a more social networking type of way (fill out as much as you want and it was free).  I got more out of the free site than I did out of the paid site, yet matches came and went, relationships came and went, and I'm back to being *GASP FOR DRAMATIC AFFECT* single and alone.  Oh dear, woe is me.

I do not regret one second of my online dating experience because I learned a lot about myself and what the experience itself was like.  Here are my 6 Words of Advice as to why online dating has not worked for me so far:

1. Don't be such a drama queen.  I used to be such a drama queen.  My fifteen-year-old self is reading that sentence and thinking "I AM NOT!" only to get pin-pricked in the brain by reality that I truly was.  Externally I didn't seem to care but internally I was a soap opera.  I would lock myself in my room most days and full-on yearn for things to just happen.  Why won't somebody just fall from the sky and show up at a store I'm at one day or sitting in front of me in my new class or be my new neighbor or ANYTHING!?!  (Um, fifteen year old self: You did absolutely nothing to better yourself or anybody else's perception of you.  That's why.)  Even my first few months of online dating were filled with internal drama because I took way too much interest in meeting as many people as I possibly could over the thought of "maybe I'll be one of those success stories sometime soon because I happen to find the right match at the right time and we'd live happily ever after blah blah blah."  When things didn't turn out that way, I'd stop using the website for months then go back on and then cancel only to resubscribe months later.  Reading the Getting Naked book snapped me right out of the "it's definitely going to work for me" fantasy.  At the time it didn't work.

2.  It could just be "unfair" timing.  This could be that the person you're searching for is just not in your results, hasn't signed up yet, or as soon as you find him/her their relationship status switches to taken.  I had my share of matches who seemed great to talk to and then suddenly they're signing off because they found somebody else.  This doesn't mean I did anything wrong necessarily.  They just chose somebody who was in their eyes "better" in some way.  I'm not less, I'm just not in one of their chunk of awesome people in the world (or at least at the time).

3. Don't be too picky.  The ultimatums I had when starting out were things like smoking, matches who had kids, and those without college degrees.  Although this narrowed down my search, all this did was restrict me from somebody would could be amazing.  After being less picky, I found more people worth looking for.  (I even found somebody who seemed great that I wouldn't have looked twice at.  BUT the next item will tell you why that person and I did not work out, which is beside #3's point.)

4. Your dates/potential dates may not be ready.  It's free and quick to set up any of these online dating profiles.  Can you tell if the profile you are reading was taken seriously?  Will they ever go back to their profile knowing they'll have to pay to do anything further?  It's hard to tell on some dating sites, but a mostly empty profile is a sign that this person may seem fantastic in the few sentences chicken-pecked onto the screen, but they'll never return again.  AND ANOTHER THING: I am not the only one who thinks that this society of my generation is the worst it has been especially for "men" my age.  Lots of insecure, immature, uninspiring wastes of space crawled all over my profile.  These are not the matches I want eying my profile thinking they're ready for a relationship when they're not even ready to face their own unemployment head-on or their daddy issues or their own struggles that affect their personality and potential with me.  I'm not saying they will always be like this; they just need more time to get to their full potential.  That's probably why online dating target markets are based on singles in their 30's not necessarily 20's.

5. Maybe you're not ready either.  Just because you've signed up and filled out a profile doesn't mean you have completely prepared yourself for what's next.  If I had read this Getting Naked book before online dating, I don't know what my situation would have been, but maybe I would have known more about the complexities of dating in generic terms.  Maybe my searches would have been different.  Maybe I wouldn't have met that one guy for that third date that in the long run just wasn't worth it.  Maybe I would have met somebody I wouldn't think of meeting initially.  Regardless, it took about a year of online dating subscriptions to realize that it just isn't my time and I'm just not ready yet.

6. You will know yourself more now than you ever have before.  I've always been independent, self-reliant, and responsible for the most part in most aspects of my life.  It wasn't until after college that I truly dove into the real me and who I would want.  This made me realize all I want right now is a cat.  (Insert the sound of Jimmy purring by my side here.)  If love finds me, I'll let it happen.  If I end up going back to online dating, I'll face it with a better perspective.  If love doesn't happen for me within the near future whether I find it online or not, I've got plenty of time to live my life as happy as I possibly can until then.

My current opinion on online dating is: I would rather have a banana sandwich than join online dating again.  (And this is serious because I am allergic to bananas.  No phallic pun intended I swear haha!)  Who knows if I'll bring this online dating thing back up again or ever.  Maybe I'll get the itch to start again in the new year, or in another year, or when I'm fifty, or never.  Whenever I get back to it if I decide to do so, I sure as heck better be ready and find somebody who is equally ready.  Rereading the Getting Naked book should be a start.  Rereading this post is even better.

Jumping in without thinking, expecting everything but what could and will happen, and ignoring your true self is a guaranteed stew of online dating failure.   Turns out I should have realized this before signing on when I did.

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid by anybody to say any of this stuff in regards to online dating websites or my opinion of the book Getting Naked.  I just really like the book.  Go read it.  Do it.

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