Well, it’s Saturday night and you find yourself watching reruns of Living Single or Law & Order SVU, (probably SVU because they’ve always got marathons going). Or maybe you’re on Facebook mindlessly scrolling down your news feed/timeline reading posts from people you either wish you knew better or, more likely, from people who you are glad you really don’t know at all – (as a matter of fact, you wonder how and when you even became Facebook friends as you seriously consider “un-friending” them because you’re sick of their annoying posts showing up all the time.) Oh wait, let’s get back to that Saturday night – I got off track!
Anyway, as you sit home alone, either watching or listening to T.V, another one of those commercials come on. C’mon, you know which ones I’m talking about – Christian Singles, where these really good looking smiling couples with the big, white Chiclet teeth are looking into each other’s eyes giving a testimony about how they met online and are so in love. Or eHarmony’s commercial where you hear Natalie Cole belting out “This will be an everlasting love…this will be the first time anyone has loved meeeeee….” Or the other one where these fabulously beautiful brown people are smiling into the camera and raving about how their love was found where Black People Meet. Even Plenty of Fish has a commercial comparing the love that was found on their completely FREE website as opposed to the “other” paid dating sites. I could go on and on, but I won’t – I think you get the message by now.
Admit it, you’ve thought about taking a peek on those sites to see what it’s all about – maybe you even went so far as to create a profile, even if you didn’t upload a picture. Why not? What harm would it do to just look around? And, if nothing else, it breaks up the boredom and gets you off of Facebook for a while! Okay, so now you’ve looked around and remaining anonymous allows you view the profiles of men or women (whatever your preference) without them seeing you. Hmmm…this isn’t so bad and there are some really good looking people on here. Hey, well maybe I’ll join just for a month. Yes, one month – I MAY even be able to find my soul mate in one month, you secretly tell yourself. After all, the people on the commercials look so happy! Yes, I’ll just sign up for a month and then if nothing happens, I’ll cancel my membership.
Okay, so you’ve decided to join. GOOD FOR YOU FOR TRYING SOMETHING NEW! Yes, In case you couldn’t tell if I was an opponent or proponent for online dating, I am all for it! And I’m speaking from LOTS of experience when I tell you this: You will NOT hear Natalie Cole singing “Everlasting Love” when you go out on the town to meet your date – not unless you’ve got it stuck in your head (like you do right now because you haven’t thought of that song in a long time, but since reading my post, you’re now humming it or singing it to yourself – probably getting all the words wrong, too!) Also, what will NOT happen is – and pay very close attention to this one: You will NOT, I repeat NOT, in all probability, meet your soul mate! No, nine times out of ten, he/she will not be on e-Harmony, Black People Meet, Match.com, Plenty of Fish or Christian Singles (BEWARE: please do not let the word ‘Christian’ deceive you. Lots of people use that label like the proverbial dangling carrot to draw you in. People are people and remember that actions speak louder than words). Sidenote: Do not be misled by the fact that you’re paying for a membership vs. the many free online dating sites available. If you think that just because you’re on a ‘paid’ sight vs. a free one that the quality of men/women will be better, think again. There are just as many idiots who can afford the $20-35.00/mo. membership fee as there are who can’t!
So if I’m convinced that you won’t meet the love of your life on eHarmony, Black People Meet, Match.com, Christian Singles or any of the countless other dating sites, why am I happy that you’ve decided to give it a try anyway? Because it’s so important to try new things! Look, here’s the thing about online dating that I have shared with people – do NOT get comfortable in the anonymity that the internet may offer. This feeling of sitting safely in the comfort of your home while chatting online can lull you into a false sense of security and we sometimes drop our guard. After you’ve uploaded those carefully scrutinized pictures that you’ve selected and put your face to a screen name that you’ve chosen, you begin to go out in cyber dating land and begin to ” virtually meet” a lot of people really quickly – think of speed dating! It can be quite a rush to have so many “hits” on your picture, or “flirts, smiles or hearts” sent to you by other cyber daters looking to meet you. Wow! Those pictures and that glowing profile that you created really did the trick. Men – you’ve got women from all over the country trying to get with you – what a fine stud you are! Women – men from at least 45 states have contacted you offering to fly in to meet you – You’re sizzling HOT!
Slow your roll a bit, ladies and gentlemen. Take a deep breath in and exhale out. Do Not Be Fooled! Yes, it is very flattering to get that kind of attention all at one time. And it’s very easy to become relaxed and over confident and even worse, gullible. If you don’t remember anything else that I say here, please remember this: When you meet someone online, treat it the same way you would as though the two of you met in person at the supermarket, at a bookstore, or a party. Use the SAME common sense online that you would use in real life. The man or woman who you meet online is a real person (there are exceptions to this that will be further discussed in my next post – Do’s and Don’ts For Online Dating) – who will be disseminating information that you share with them. Be mindful of what you share. For instance, you wouldn’t tell a stranger your life story the first time you met them at a coffee shop, would you? I sure hope not! Then don’t do it online either. Keep your wits about you and don’t allow all the immediate attention and the barrier of your computer screen to suck you into revealing things too soon. The internet is exactly that: In.ter.net. It intertwines our lives with each other – proceed with caution!
Now, I hope I haven’t scared you away from the idea of online dating. I have been on dating sites since 2009, on and off. I have met lots of men and have had lots and lots of dates! Hey, I’ve been wined (I really like that), dined, with lots of simple meet and greets at Starbucks, yogurt shops, pizza joints, jazz spots and even an occasional quick meet at the local convenience store or McDonalds if time didn’t permit more (just to see each other in person and feel out the physical chemistry.) My point is, although I have met literally hundreds of men online (no, I haven’t dated them all nor have I met them all in person), I didn’t meet my soul mate or the love of my life there. I’ve had some really great dates, but not as many as really bad ones, truth! But the reality is, for me, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad that I at least gave online dating a chance. It gave me an opportunity to meet men who I probably would never have met in my own back yard or neighborhood. I have even met men who have remained friends to this very day. And please, let me mention how much I have laughed until I almost wet my pants at some of the craziness that I’ve seen online. Laughter is ALWAYS a good thing, so no regrets at all for me!
What online dating does is bring a variety of people to you – REALLY FAST! People from different states, cities and even continents. I have met men who lived in other states, most of whom I’ve never met in person, but we enjoyed great conversation and lots of laughs when the chemistry was right. And once or twice, I even met someone from another state and the chemistry was right and they flew down to visit me. We had a great time, but things still didn’t work out. That’s okay and that’s life. But if I only made myself available to the pool of men in my city, I’d really be limiting myself. So, how else would I meet men from other places if I wasn’t traveling all the time?(which I’m not). I wouldn’t and I would be confined to only what Atlanta or the state of Georgia had to offer. It’s about broadening your scope…casting a wider net – stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something a little (or a lot) different.
If, however, you are not comfortable at all with creating an online profile and putting up a few pictures, sharing your first name and eventually a phone number (if you want to talk offline) with someone who you’ve met online, then it’s not for you. If you don’t have any online presence at all, then you’re will probably not be comfortable with online dating. If you’re only interested in seeking the attention from the opposite (or same sex if that’s your thing), with no desire to actually meet in person…EVER…then you’re probably wasting that other person’s time unless he/she is in it for the same reason. In that case, stroke your ego and have fun, but you’re not serious about meeting someone.
Online dating isn’t for everyone. But if you’re the least bit curious about it and willing to reach out beyond your own neighborhood and beyond your own comfort zone, give it a try.
Average time it takes for a man to “throw up” some pictures online – 20 Minutes
Average time it takes for a woman to go through dozens and dozens of pictures before she decides – 2 Hours (this could be an underestimation!)
Average Online Dating Membership – $35.00/mo.
Cost of a simple first ‘Meet & Greet’ – $20 – 25.00
The cost of Practicing Common Sense when it comes to dating (on and offline) – PRICELESS!!
Photos: Courtesy of Stock Photos