Having dated my way from “A is for Adam” to “Z is for Zak” over the last year, I’ve learned a thing or two about dating. Dating, especially on the Internet, is not for the faint of heart. It is a blood sport. I’m not kidding.
1. Stay Open: It’s amazing how quickly one becomes jaded when Internet dating. I’ve had to remind myself repeatedly that there are good men out there, and that everyone, whether they end up being a good fit for me or not, deserves to be treated kindly and with respect. Every one of us is taking a risk by putting ourselves out there. We all deserve to be treated with dignity. I can’t control how anybody else behaves. But I can do my small part by staying open, being kind, and seeing the good in the men with the courage to make contact.
2. Pace Yourself: There is no easier path to exhaustion and overload than spending a few months Internet dating (especially if, like me, you also document the experience on your blog!) How many hours can one woman spend in front of her computer in a single day? You’d be shocked.
When I had a profile that was public, I would receive a number of new messages every day, and could end up spending hours returning emails. Even if many of those emails were of the “No, but thank you” variety, there would still be a few men that I’d think, “Maybe,” and thus would find myself not only juggling emails, but also coffee dates. (It is not a good thing when you forget key details about a man – like his name – while you’re having coffee with him).
Though I miss the attention, I’ve learned that it is best to keep my profile hidden and to only contact men who I think would be good possibilities. My Slow Dating Manifesto, wherein I resolved to only date one man at a time, has made a big difference in my life. Not only can I get to know one man without thinking about who out there might be a better catch, I also have time for other things. Like sleeping.
3. Be Discerning: I know that my first point was to stay open. For a while I worried that I was being far too picky. After all, I’ve had first dates with close to thirty men in a little more than a year. Surely one of them would be right for me? I worried that I was just being too picky, until a wise friend explained to me the difference between discerning and picky.
To be discerning is to show good judgement, to have insight and understanding. I am being discerning when I choose not to date somebody because I see that he has a negative outlook or is selfish or has no interest in kids. These are qualities that I know won’t work for me long term. I understand this about myself.
To be picky, on the other hand, is to be overly particular about inconsequential details. I’d be picky when ruling out men because they lack a university degree, they don’t meet a certain height requirement, or they have little sense of style. There are lots of smart men without university degrees and lots of sexy men under six feet tall. And for those lacking style, there is the mall.
It’s been good for me to get clear about what really matters. What matters to me is loyalty and warmth and generosity of spirit. What matters to me is intelligence and humour. What matters to me is finding a man who shares my values around family and parenting.
And one of these days, I’ll find him.