Okay, so you’ve actually finally decided to do it. You’ve signed up for an online dating membership! Kudos to you for trying something new! You’ve spent hours selecting just the right pictures to put on your online profile (Men, it probably only took you about a half hour). So now what? Well now you start to discover that there are LOTS of other people who took the leap and that you’re no alone. Your inbox starts to get attention and someone has sent you a “flirt” (or a heart, or wink or whatever that site uses to express an interest). A big smile spreads across your face as you anxiously click on the message to see who it is. Oh…hmmm…not bad! Let’s see what he/she has to say about themselves in their profile. Has a job, check. Has all of their teeth/hair (most anyway), check. Sidenote: Men, yes our hair may be weaved, but we consider it “ours” because we’ve bought and paid for it, so that’s still a ‘check’). So you continue to read and discover other attributes that seem appealing and you decide to send a message back expressing a mutual interest. This is good! You made a connection…maybe.
Realistically this probably will not happen as quickly as your first time out the gate. You will more than likely receive a lot more messages from people who you’re not interested in than the other way around. But for the sake of time, I’m moving quickly through that process and we’re going to say that you’ve finally met someone online that you ARE interested in. What next?
Do chat a for a while online, but don’t spend time sending endless messages back and forth. If you’re both really interested in getting to know each other, move the conversation to the phone. Remember, if you met in person and were attracted to each other, you’d exchange your numbers in real life. Too many online messages or emails will get both boring and it does not allow for you to hear their voice and the nuances that come along with it. (Give your cell number as opposed to your home number – not easily able to find your address connected to the cell). Remember: IT’S JUST A PHONE NUMBER! In the rare event that this person becomes annoying with unwanted phone calls later on…BLOCK HIM/HER. It’s that simple! Next…
- Don’t give out any personal information such as your last name, address, email address that contains any portion of your real name, etc. More than likely the man/woman that you’re talking to is as sane as you are, but you don’t want to take any chances.
- Do remember that in this age of digital everything, everyone has access to a camera. If they don’t have a picture posted, don’t waste your time. They are hiding something – usually the way they look. Or, they are trying to be incognito because he/she really has no business on a dating site because they’re either married or in a committed relationship! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!
- Don’t let him/her tell you any nonsense such as this: “Well I don’t have a picture up because I work for the government/law enforcement and can’t have my picture online for professional reasons, but if you give me your email, I’ll send you a picture.” (I’ve heard that line many times!) Truth is, if they REALLY are in a covert type of career, then they need to stay there and shouldn’t be on a dating site where visuals are expected. Do not give out your email address. It’s a dating site and we’re ALL visual beings. Either they put up a picture up, or they don’t. Move on to the next profile. I’ve also heard this line: “I don’t know how to upload a picture.” My response: “Get back to me when you learn how.”
- Do keep in mind that a picture does not always tell the entire tale. Beware of the serial ‘head shots’ or passport/driver license type of photos..or the tiny little pictures. You may see a profile of a great looking man/woman with lots of pictures, but they’re all from the neck up! That is a big red flag! If you decide that you’d like to talk with them, ask them to post a full body shot – head to toe or at least to the knees.
- Don’t ask for a full body shot if you don’t have one on there of yourself! And on that note comes my next “do,” (and it’s a big one).
- Do post a couple of head shots, but MAKE SURE YOU POST AT LEAST 1-2 FULL BODY SHOTS of yourself. Look, if you’re a woman with a full, curvy, voluptuous figure (like me), then show them what you’re working with! Why are you trying to hide it if you’re on the site to meet men? Think about this: If you meet someone and you two decide to actually meet in person, aren’t they going to see exactly what you look like? When you put your full body shots up, you’re being honest and unapologetically showing the world who you are. Either he will like it, in which case he’ll message you. But if you’re not his flavor of ice cream, then he’ll keep it moving. Guys, if you’ve got a beer belly and you’re “fluffy,” then show us who you are ahead of time, big daddy! Post those full body shots and smile! Truthfully, in my vast experience with this dating stuff, I find that men aren’t nearly as reluctant to put their entire bodies on a picture as we women are. I’m speaking from experience when I tell you that it’s the best way to do it. I ALWAYS post full body pictures of myself. Either they like it or they don’t. (sidenote: I never lacked in flirts, winks, messages, etc. when I’m online. There’s someone for everyone!)
- Don’t get sucked in by cheesy phrases such as, “I love long walks on the beach or strolling in the park or candlelight dinners.” Ladies, I promise, you will see these cliché posts repeatedly! Don’t buy into it. Men know what women want to hear and they will put it in their posts to attract you. As many dates as I’ve been on, I have yet to go strolling in the park or walking on the beach and I’ve never been on a candlelit dinner date! Dinner, yes – candles, no! Men, I haven’t forgotten about you. If she’s asking you right out the gate about the type of car you drive, if you own your own home or telling you the types of high-end restaurants she’s used to eating in, then trust that she’s sizing up your wallet! I believe It’s okay to ask about the type of work you do (for men and women.) That sort of thing would come up if you met at a dinner party or a museum – it’s casual conversation and it simply gives a potential mate an idea of who you are. You can disclose what you do without getting into details, especially if you have a sensitive job.
- Do make a date for a “meet and greet” if you’ve talked with each other via phone and you’re both interested in meeting in person, (if you’re fortunate enough to live in the same city/state). Keep the initial meeting to no more than 2 hours. The first hour you will be sizing each other up, head to toe, trying to pretend that you’re not both nervous and wondering if the other finds you attractive or wondering if they think you look as good in person as you do in your pictures, etc. The second hour you’ll finally remember that you’ve got a coffee sitting in front of you and finally take a sip as you listen to your new friend talk. If you like him/her, you’ll be trying to listen, but you’ll be looking at their lips as they speak and wondering how it would be to kiss him/her. That’s a good sign! If you don’t like them and there’s no chemistry, you’ll be plotting your escape! That’s why it’s good to keep the first meeting short and sweet.
- Don’t ever let your first date/meet & greet, or whatever you want to call it, be at your house or his. Bad idea. Your first meeting should always be in a public place where you feel comfortable and safe. Ladies, a gentleman will always offer to meet you in a public place because he will know that your comfort is important. If you’ve just met him online and he’s already asking to come to your house to see you or inviting you to his under the guise of ‘cooking for you’ or just ‘chillin’ and watching movies, he’s not interested in getting to know you. He only wants sex….period. If that is what you’re looking for, then go for it. But if you’re really online to meet someone who you can share your life with, the chances are slim that you will (but anything is possible), but your chances drop dramatically if you allow those type of shananigans from the start. Remember: We teach people how to treat us by what we allow.
- Do have fun!!! Dating, online or more traditionally, should be fun, not stressful. If it is, then you’re doing it wrong. Go online with minimal expectations. Yes, that’s right, I said it. Keep your expectations low. Know that most of the people online that you meet are not truly interested in getting to know you. They are there either for attention, sex, free meals, looking for a suga daddy or a suga mama, or looking for a place to stay. There are all kinds of people online – the gold diggers chasing your pockets, the sweet talkers who are living in their car, a shelter, a halfway house or even in jail or inr their mama’s basement and want to move in with you or the married men/women who just want to know that they still “got it.” That is the cold hard truth. Keeping that in mind, however, will allow you to be informed, prepared, lighthearted and see it as a form of entertainment. If you allow yourself, you will definitely learn a lot about human nature and you will get some serious laughs as well. No doubt you will meet people who will amuse you, entertain you, entice you and engage you in some great conversation. You may even actually meet a few who you want to meet in person to see where it could go. And you MAY even find your future king or queen among all the jokers. That’s wonderful if it happens! But don’t get your hopes up! The commercials on television that we see about the happy lovebirds who met on a dating site do not represent the majority. Just know that going in and your chances for being disappointed are reduced, while your chances for being enlightened and entertained are greatly increased. And lastly….
- Don’t leave your common sense at home when/if you decide to meet someone in person – take it with you. Also, use it liberally when you’re talking to someone online. Trust your instincts! If it quacks like a duck…walks like a duck….well, you know the rest.
- WHAT IS CATFISHING?
Catfishing is when you meet someone online and they pretend that they are someone who they are not. They engage you in conversation, either on the phone or online. They will send you pictures and claim that the pictures are them. However, you discover, sooner or later, that the pictures were of someone else completely unknown to you. Catfishing is deceptive and it REALLY happens. It happened to me about 4 years ago. I met a man online who seemed interesting and smart. He had only one picture on his profile (RED FLAG THAT I MISSED) We talked online for about a week before we exchanged numbers and talked via phone. He sent me that same picture of him to my phone and we eventually made a date to meet for a drink. I met him at a bar in midtown and it took me about 5 minutes after arriving to discover that the person I was looking for wasn’t there. Instead, there was another man in his place. After I realized what was going on, I went over to the table and asked him if he was “XYZ”…he admitted he was and looked embarrassed and scared. He should have been scared because I felt like knocking the s**t out of him! He was a completely different person altogether. He admitted he lied because he didn’t think I’d like the “real” him. I told him he was right, I didn’t like the REAL him because the real him was a big liar. I left him there with his drink. First and LAST time that happened, to date.
Now go have some fun and pat yourself on the back for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something new!
Photos: Courtesy of Stock Photos