Online Dating for Dummies Part 1

Yes, for you. Online dating for YOU!

After a couple of years of clocking in to the online dating job from time to time, I have racked up some good, some bad, some funny, and some downright ugly examples of online daters. A friend mentioned that I should write about some of my experiences because sometimes they really do seem to just jump out of a book. I was toying with the idea of writing a dos and don’ts list for the online dating impaired but really, if we’re being honest, we are all a little impaired. Online dating can be awkward, unnatural, and downright confusing. And since we are being honest, it’s not just an online problem. It’s an offline problem too. We can’t seem to relate to people in real and meaningful ways in our everyday lives. Even when the connections present themselves in natural, face to face situations, we still choose the awkwardness of an online photo and profile.  Is this less of a risk perhaps? And since when was relating to people so risky? Or rather, when was that risk not totally worth it? 

While I was in Fiji, Ira and I were perusing the aisles of eHarmony, as girls will sometimes do, and one of the boys walked past and saw the rows of pictures and asked what we were doing. Ira smartly replied, “Shopping.” Well, we thought the conversation would end there when he continued after catching a glimpse of one specific match, “Well, what does he sell?” “Erm…”

Needless to say, the dating scene is uncomfortable for many of us out there, but why not try to make it a little less strange and a little more encouraging. Yes, you read that right. Encouraging. Because as much as I have been discouraged from online dating, I have also had extraordinary moments that have given me hope for my generation in the realm of relationships. Moments when I met great guys, even if they weren’t my guy.

So, grab your pint of ice cream ladies. And gentleman, grab some paper and pencil. You may want to take notes 😉

Story #1 Random Guy Whose Name I Don’t Remember (The Guy You Don’t Want to Be)

I got back from school a few nights ago and decided to check my inbox on eHarmony. Maybe that cute guy from New York wrote me back! Maybe he noticed how smart and extraordinary I am. Well boo, the New York guy didn’t write me back, otherwise, I’d be on a date instead of writing this post! But…dun dun DUN! Guess who did write to me! A guy whose name I can’t remember. Why can’t I remember his name? Read his email and you tell me:

Hi! You’re about to be impressed I’m sure 😉 Here are a few worthy details about me: -Rescued orphans from burning buildings -Toppled fascist regimes for the sake of the oppressed -Single-handedly defeated an alien invasion for the sake of all humanity (you’re welcome) I can personally guarantee all of the above is unverifiably true. Here is some boring stuff: -Looking for something long term. I know I am a sexy beast but not on here for that so please contain yourself -Good job! If you want to know what my interests are, just ask!

Well, where to start! First, thank you, I did do a good job containing myself. I feel very proud. Second, unverifiably? Not a word dude. Unverifiable, but not unverifiably. But you didn’t know you were talking to a linguist so I’ll let that one slide. Third, I would love to answer your questions about me…oh wait. You didn’t ask any questions about me. You showed zero genuine interest in me. You did however show that you are very interested in yourself and wow, I get to ask you questions about you if I want. Not a great first impression. Fourth, women who will make for great friends and future wives are not interested in your laundry list of accomplishments. Whether you are trying to be funny or not, we care more about your character and your genuinely tender heart.

And how can you reveal your character and tender heart you might ask, guy who is taking oh so many notes? It can be as simple as what this next guy did in story #2.

Story #2 Random guy who I will probably write to later tonight (The Guy You Want to Be)

Even though Mr. NYC didn’t write back to me…yet…another man did and he showed his character in a simple and modest way with this email:

Hi there! Have you been to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens yet this summer? They have a collection of treehouses installed that look really impressive. Seems right up your alley. 🙂 How are you enjoying teaching first grade? My mother finished up her teaching career in first grade. She had been teaching third prior to that, and when she told her third graders at the end of the year that she was moving to first, they were all upset because they thought she was being demoted! She loved first grade because she saw such a huge progression in her students’ reading ability from the start of the year to the finish. -Random guy who I’ll probably write to later tonight

Notice anything different here? A world of difference, right? He obviously read my profile, he shows genuine interest in me, and he spoke warmly about his mom. Three gold stars for guy #2! This kind of email actually makes me inclined to hear about his accomplishments because I am sure he has them, but he did not feel the need to boast of them. Instead, he started a conversation with me. Simple as that. He made it easy for me to respond by asking two questions, one that made a connection to something that I like and one that made a connection to what I do.

Man on the other side of this computer screen, if you want the girl to write back, make it easy for her in this same way. 

And maybe you are already doing this and just aren’t getting a response from anyone. Take heart! I know it’s tough for guys too. We girls can be a major let down when we don’t notice the good ones. I’ve heard my brother’s stories too and I pray that we can all hold on to hope. We don’t need twenty. We just need one. In the Lord’s timing.

Story #3 I Got Matched with the Same Guy Again!

Oh wait, no. You’ve just seen this same photo over and over again. You know the one, with the guy, smiling and holding the big fish that he just caught.

Top three photos that guys post onto their profiles:

  1. Look at the fish I just caught!
  2. Look at me standing next to my cool red, fast, car!
  3. Look at me…in my bed??

The photos that we actually want to see:

  1. This is me with my family on my mom’s birthday.
  2. This is me living in another country during that year after college.
  3. This is me, NYC guy with dimples…

Okay, the last one was a joke. But in all honesty, we are looking to see a life outside of things and toys. We are looking to see if you have people in your life whom you care about and who care about you. We are looking to see if you have interests outside of work and we are looking to see if you love life and if you can think deeply. Show us these kinds of photos. I know you’ve got them.

Story #4 The Second Andrew

I get matched with a new Andrew everytime I log on to my profile and I’ve dated TWO of them so far! While I was getting to know the second Andrew, he spoke about his small group and how many young people attend his church. Andrew and I lived 2 1/2 hours away from each other so I just had to ask, “Why don’t you date any of the girls from your church?” His response was, “Well, what if something went wrong? That would be really awkward.”

Hmm. Yes, that could be awkward and it would be a challenge for sure, but what if things didn’t go wrong? Or better yet, what if you took the chance, things went wrong, and you both grew beautifully out of something so hard?

Andrew and I had zero friends in common. We would drive far to see each other every weekend and we had zero accountability. That led to some dangerous moments here and there between a cute blonde girl and a tall, muscular hockey player. We also never had the gift of getting to know each other surrounded by the people who know and love us best and for me, that is no way to get to know a potential best friend/boyfriend/spouse. It didn’t make sense to me that he would pass up some great girls who were already in his circle of friends. That could lead to something wonderful. He would have accountability, friends to be honest when it wasn’t a good fit and honest when it was. And this actually provides more safety as I consider the hearts involved. If you have people looking out for you, they will help you to relate to each other appropriately and with caution as you progress through the getting to know you process. If we are going to ever learn how to relate well in potential relationships, we need help from the ones who know us best. I don’t think that this is an endeavor to process alone. That is why Ira joined in on the online shopping process with me. She was able to say, “NO, pass that guy up!” or “Oooo, that could be a good one for you.” I need the help of those around me as I date just as I need help in every other area of my life.

Story #5 The One Who Broke My Heart and the One Whose Heart I Broke

To be continued…mwah ah ah.

Tune in on Friday to hear more stories that I hope we can all learn from, but until then, post your own fun, crazy, encouraging dating stories in the comment section or shoot me an email with your funny tales.  

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Online Dating for Dummies Part 1