Considering the Online Dating Game

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Susann Mitton

Once again, I am finding myself eating my words, so my first piece of advice is to ­never say never! I have stated on many occasions that I could not imagine using an online dating app to meet a partner. Spoiler alert, I have not yet joined the ranks of many successful relationships that began this way, although I have decided to investigate the option further.

According to Pew Research (www.pewresearch.org), approximately 30% of people over 49 are single, and even less of this age bracket have ever used a dating app. I’ve never consciously sought out a relationship so the idea of feeling a natural connection or finding chemistry through some sort of online catalogue seems absurd to me.

The first thing I’ve learned is one must watch for “catfishing” or “scammers”. These are individuals who are someone other than they represent themselves to be. This can range from showing old photos, or photos of someone else, to pretending to be someone who doesn’t exist and wants to take advantage or steal your money.

There are also a myriad of terms regularly used on dating apps that you need to familiarize yourself with or you'll be quickly lost. I am finding the list is quite long, but here are a few of the most common to get you started:

DM or PM – direct or private messaging

IRL – stands for “in real life” meaning to meet in person

LTR – represents someone looking for a long-term relationship

FWB – friends with benefits indicates a no commitment relationship that includes intimacy

I have been contemplating some of the apprehensions I have about using this avenue for dating. First, how do you represent yourself in a short introduction paragraph that reflects your interests, personality, profession, your serious and lighthearted sides, as well as what you are looking for in a partner? Further, how do you write this in a manner that discourages those just looking for a “hook-up” but doesn’t send the message that you are wanting to run down the aisle tomorrow?

Second, I am a bit of a skeptic so hesitant to share any personal information. Let’s be honest, there are a fair number of weirdos out there. So let’s say I get on a dating app, connect with someone and we are in that uncomfortable stage of who are you, what do you do, where do you work or live; going about the task of determining if there are enough checkmarks to consider a phone conversation. My question is, how do you share enough to make these determinations without exposing yourself in the event the person you are speaking with turns out to be nut?

Here’s the next challenge, I don’t want to waste my time or wish to have a full schedule of dates. On-line interaction is not enough to determine any real compatibility, but the thought of going on one blind date (much less many) is frankly repulsive. The one thing of which I am certain is that I don’t want to fall into a relationship as a method for avoiding the process of finding a true partner but this process does not seem very appealing.

*This nonfiction piece is based on observation and research. I do not claim to be an expert in areas of public health, academia, mental health, or science, nor am I providing professional medical or legal advice. Opinions shared are expressly drawn from personal experience.

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