They might not be what you expect.
If you think it's impossible to meet the right person on a dating site, think again.
I met my husband of 16 years on a Lavalife, and while that might not be the most popular site anymore, the experience is still the same.
I'd recently gotten back on the dating market after coming off of a long stretch of being alone.
I'd had a bad break-up and vowed not to date again until I figured myself out. It had been about six years since I'd been out there.
My sister, who'd been dabbling in online dating, talked me into joining.
I had a solitary job and was a recent transplant to the area. I hadn't made many friends yet and wasn't meeting any men, so I thought, why not.
She wrote me up a snappy profile, found some super cool pictures from my musician days, and we were good to go.
Unfortunately, things didn't go according to plan.
I had some weird first dates.
There was a guy who tried to kiss me in a coffee shop to "seal the deal."
Another who thought it would be cool to take a road trip the next day.
One guy had to separate the different foods on his plate, and another was about 20 years older than his profile picture.
I knew things weren't going well, but for the longest time, I blamed the guys. In reality, it took a few changes on my end to turn things around.
So, I decided to take a breather and look at it from a different angle.
I started to focus on what I could control and decided to institute codes of conduct that I'd date by.
When I started dating by these rules, everything changed.
Here are they are:
1. Tone down your profile
The profile my sister made for me was super cool and awesome, but it read more like a press release.
When I instituted the rules, I decided the first thing I would do would be to change that.
I wasn't really that person anymore, and even when I was, I wasn't as cool in real life as I seemed on stage.
So I dialed it back and stated the facts.
- I'm not skinny or fat
- I'm not the life of the party, but I have a good sense of humor
- I mentioned that I could cook
- I had a couple of hobbies
- I'm not A-type
- there's nothing special about me, but I'm a decent person.
I think in trying to play up what my sister thought were my most interesting points, she may have inadvertently shot me in the foot.
There's a difference between putting your best face forward and trying too hard. Authentic people will instinctively be turned off if you try too hard.
2. Be nice
I decided to be nice to everyone I met, no matter what.
Even if I didn't like them. If I wasn't attracted to a guy if he seemed like a dick or whatever.
I was going to take responsibility for my own attitude and take the high road.
I figured that if I did this, the worst-case scenario would be that I could get out of something aggressive or awkward without making a scene.
The best case would be possibly making a friend.
I finally had a revelation that I didn't have to take it all so seriously.
I decided to look at it as a grand experiment and learn a little something every time.
I knew there would be bad dates, and my new mission was to learn to handle them with grace and gratitude.
It would be like doing a dating co-op.
4. Be respectful
I decided I would treat every guy the way I'd like to be treated.
Not necessarily because that's what I expected back, I have no control over that, but the way I'd like to be treated in a perfect world.
Sometimes being respectful causes a positive chain reaction.
If someone feels validated, rough edges soften.
I vowed that I would give each partner my full attention and be polite and courteous regardless of whether or not I was into them romantically.
5. Don't keep anyone hanging on
I decided that if I knew it wasn't going anywhere, I would get in touch and let them know right away.
That didn't mean telling someone halfway through a date that I'm not into them.
For me it meant, phoning them the next day — not texting, to thank them for a lovely time but also to let them know that I wasn't feeling it.
I committed to not being a jerk.
This meant facing up to the responsibility of returning phone calls even if I was dreading the conversation.
Disappearing is the most cowardly way to break it off. Someone did it to me, and it sucked. I did not want to be that person. It was a difficult but necessary thing to do.
It forced me to act with integrity and actively respect every person I met.
6. Be okay if someone isn't into you
You're not into every person you meet, so don't expect that because you like someone, they will automatically like you back.
It doesn't matter why they're not feeling it.
It doesn't mean your ugly, or a loser, or an idiot; it just means they're not getting that special feeling with you.
If someone doesn't like you, don't stew about it, don't try to figure it out, don't take it personally, just move on.
After I enacted the codes, I met some really great guys.
Most of them I wasn't into, but a couple of them I was.
When they didn't like me back, I moved on.
I even made a good friend who I had a date with the week after I met my husband.
We'd planned to meet up before I'd arranged the date with my husband, and I didn't want to be rude. Since I'd only just met my husband and weren't officially dating yet, there was no conflict.
But I knew from the moment he opened the door he wasn't for me.
He knew it too, but we hung out and had such a great time that we ended up becoming friends and writing a movie script together.
My husband and I, however, had a 7-hour first date.
He said he knew from the moment he saw me cross the street to meet him that I was special.
About 10 minutes into that date, I made a joke. He says that was the moment he fell in love.
I also felt something special going on, but it wasn't until we kissed on our 2nd date that I knew I loved him and would be with him for the long haul.
Dating is a numbers game.
You probably have to meet a bunch of people before you're exposed to the right one.
The world is big.
You can't expect you'll meet that perfect person the minute you put yourself out there.
You're going to have to throw back a few before you make that big catch.
You're even going to have to endure being thrown back a couple of times yourself. It's inevitable.
Dating is a process, not a party.
But having a few rules to live by can make it less confusing and give you some grounding in the world of online love.