I went on my first internet date in 1997, just a few weeks after I turned 18. This happened before Match.com existed. It was part of dial-up and was called Love @ AOL.
Anyhow, I know a few things about internet dating and I want to share them. This is the precursor to an entire book. I hope these are helpful:
1. Never meet someone in a place you like
I know, I know. People tell you to go on dates at the best places and in places you like. Don’t do that. Chances are, you aren’t actually going to like this guy anyway so then every time you go back to this place you will remember the dude that showed up short when he said he was tall or the guy who said he loved dogs but talked about his cats.
2. Wear comfortable clothing
Forget what Steve Harvey says in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. You do not want to be on a date with a guy you are having a good time with who then suggests you take a walk around the mall while you are wearing 5 inch heels. Ain’t happenin’. And you might actually want to spend more time with the guy.
3. Inform someone of everything you can
Before you leave for the date, send an email or text to someone close to you that will be available during the time of the date. Give them as much information as you can about the date. I usually take a screenshot of everything in the person’s profile and then include any other information I may have obtained during the process of security the date. For example, I will share their phone number and full name if I have it. I will tell my friend where I am going, at what time, and by what time they should worry if I haven’t followed up. Then I give them instructions on what to do if I haven’t followed up. Usually I just give them my mother’s name since she would be my contact if I were found dead in a ditch. I ask my friend to call my mother and explain that I was on an internet date and cannot be reached.
I don’t expect my friend to handle the entire situation, just let them communicate it if necessary. That way my mom doesn’t know I am going on 3 internet dates in one day (true story) or that I am going on 7 in a week (true story). My mom also doesn’t need to know if I am not going on any dates for two months.
It’s also nice for my mom because she knows that I always have a plan so she doesn’t have to worry in general. And, for some reason, I’ve found that my friends who play this role always get a kick out of it. It gives you a “go to” person to tell your hilarious internet dating story to after the date OR to share that it was awesome and you think you just met your future husband.
4. Don’t have a slutty screen name
Once I had the screenname “Naughty in the ‘nati” as sort of a social experiment. That lasted one hour. It is a great way to block all the creeps, though!
5. Do date several guys
Don’t hold back from going on dates with lots of guys, even back to back. When I went on three dates in one day I referred to it as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That is really what went down and it was kind of fun to challenge myself to such a feat. I do not recommend THAT but I do think you should go on whatever dates you want to go on and not hold back if you have opportunities. Be open minded. For example, my ex-boyfriend that I dated for several years did not go to college. I had on my ad that I would only date guys who did and he asked my permission to go around that. He was (and is) a very nice, respectable man and I would have never met him if he wasn’t assertive in asking to talk to me although he did not meet my supposed standard.
Really, I feel like the point of internet dating is to date. Duh. But it is also to figure out what types of people fit well with you and to get a sense about who you are.
I’ve learned a lot from internet dating (e.g. the best restaurants in Ohio that are not my regular hangouts) and about myself while doing it. Be smart, be careful, be selective but not too selective. And most of all, have fun.