Navigating Online Dating

Online Dating

Online dating was once seen as a taboo practice and now, even before the rise of Covid19, it has become a natural part of forging relationships. That being said there is still less readily available information about safely navigating online dating than there is in-person dating. With the need to stay in and the social distancing measures being a part of our lives through at least the rest of the year, now is the perfect time to go over some basics of online dating. 

Staying Safe 

Back in the days of its rapid rise in popularity there was a whole lot of talk about the dangers of online dating. While it is true that there are shady characters online, for the most part you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that. Most people are just like you. They are nervous, well meaning individuals looking to make connections with other well meaning individuals. 

That being said, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re being safe.

  • Check on their social media accounts. 
    • Don’t stalk them or read through all their comments. Just be sure they have active accounts and a reasonable number of friends, etc. 
    • No accounts at all or accounts with 2 followers are always a red flag. 
  • Insist on Video chatting. 
    • This is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re talking to who you think you’re talking to. There is a lot you can gather from a video. 
  • Don’t give away personal information early on. 
    • Don’t give out your address, your workplace or anything else suspect until you know you can trust the person you’re talking to. 

Again it’s important to stress that for the most part the people you meet online are genuine people but it never hurts to err on the side of caution, especially in the beginning.

Building Virtual Connections

It may feel strange at first to connect via a phone or computer screen but there are lots of opportunities for meaningful interaction online. Talking on the phone is a wonderful way to connect without the physical temptations and anxieties that come from a date. Chatting while relaxing on your couch or in a porch swing allows you to focus on the conversation rather than the waiter, your outfit or wondering if they are going to lean in for a kiss later. 

The same is true for texting. The important thing is that you are opening up about yourself, getting to know one another, and enjoying your time together. Sometimes being apart can actually make this process easier.

Sharing a First Date

Perhaps you’ve met, you’ve verified they are who they say they are and you’ve communicated and connected, now what? Well an in-person date could still be tricky. If you’re caring for an at risk relative or even just being cautious it can be unsafe to venture into a typical date setting. (Unsafe in terms of the virus, not in terms of your date.) 

In that case consider hosting a Zoom date. You can both cook or order a meal, and sit down together and share that meal together while chatting on your laptop as you would on a date. You can even put on some nice clothes, dim the lights and play some relaxing music. A meal shared laughing and connecting still counts as a date, even if you’re both eating different take-out while talking through your webcam.

Getting Back on that Horse

Dating is hard. Whether you’ve been dating for a while or this is your first time back in the saddle following a divorce or separation. Be kind to yourself. There may be missteps, some dates may be DOA, but hang in there. You are worthy of love and you will find someone. Dating online may seem a little foreign to you but it could turn out to be the best thing to come out of this lackluster year. 

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