Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Little Online Dating Advice

This is not advice about finding Twoo Wuv online.  I have no experience with that.

I do, however, have some suggestions about how to go on Nice First Dates.  About four years ago, I tried online dating for the first time, and it was kind of a disaster.  Not a disaster for my comedy routine, should I ever have one, but I went on a lot of bad dates.  If we were friends then, you probably remember some of the stories: the suicidal robin, the tattoo artist and ferret breeder, etc.

This time, however, it's been different.  I've gone on four first dates in six weeks with four different guys, and every single one of them has been pleasant.  I am four for four!  And while four is not a statistically significant result, but here's what I've done differently this time, and what I suggest. 

Be honest.  Or, in other words, own it.  I am not apologizing about the PhD or hiding the fact that I have one.  Nor am I hiding the fact that I'm short, curvy, and have a crooked nose and glasses.  Get that up on your profile right away so you can weed out the guys who aren't into that sort of thing.

Be selective.  In my first attempt, I decided to accept every date and write back to every (non-offensive) message, just to keep my options open.  This was a bad move.  It was a waste of energy and I spent a lot of time being frustrated that I spent time corresponding with jerks.  So don't correspond with jerks.  And don't get involved in elaborate correspondence with some computer scientist in Finland.  Talk to people you could actually meet.  Speaking of which...

Meet early. All the written chemistry in the world does not necessarily mean chemistry in person.  So don't let the messaging go on for ever.  A cup of coffee after three or four messages is totally fine.

Set low expectations.  Remember that it's just coffee.  Or dinner.  Or a walk through the farmer's market.  Or whatever it is.  It is not a referendum on your attractiveness or lovable-ness.  It is not a marriage proposal. So you go, then, not expecting to meet The One (tm), but rather expecting to have a pleasant hour or so. 

Give him a chance.  If the guy seems polite and reasonably attractive, then go.  If it isn't pleasant, you never have to go again.  But it's worthwhile, particularly for academics, to practice basic social skills.  So give it a shot. 

Be kind. Not working out?  Say so clearly, kindly, and quickly.  "Thanks so much for a lovely evening.  You seem like a great guy, but I don't think we're a match."  Done.

Be safe.  I did this the first time, but it's worth emphasizing.  Meet in a public place.  Tell your best friend who you're meeting, where you're meeting, and what time you'll call her to let her know how it went. 

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