When I started online dating, it was fun — at first. I loved the sheer number of people who were also hoping to find love. I was fascinated by how people presented themselves. How they approached me. How they spent time getting to know me before meeting me. It was easy to log in during the down times of my day and chat with a friend. Or plan a date. Or simply flirt.
But as the weeks turned into months, I began to realize that while it was fun, I wasn’t using it the way I should. There was a lot of flirting going on with no real thought to the people behind the scenes. It seemed like a game to all of us — the new way things were done. Until I found myself completely sick of it in every possible way … just six months later.
It was then I realized something: It wasn’t them. It was me.
Online dating offered an easy way to test the waters. To chat with someone for a few days or even weeks before daring to meet in person. But I soon found that after chatting with someone even a few times, I felt obligated to meet them for coffee. Because, in all honesty, they felt like friends even though — for the most part — they were complete strangers.
And after too many coffees with too many friends, my heart began to ache. I wondered what I was doing wrong. If I would ever find anyone whose personality fit with mine. And so I took a long, hard look. Not at the process. But at the player. At me.
Are you making these same mistakes?
As soon as I met someone and determined we weren’t a good fit, I’d get back online and start my search again. It was a rush to have others literally at my fingertips, ready to talk and possibly move on to the next step of meeting in person. What I didn’t realize is that I was simply rushing from one meeting to the next — without allowing myself down time in between to decide why the last person I met wasn’t a good fit.
If you’re rushing from one person to the next in your online dating pursuits, it’s extremely likely that you’re simply fighting loneliness rather than actually looking for a healthy relationship. Healthy relationships take effort. And thoughtfulness. And time. Decide what it is that you’re looking for so you can show some integrity to yourself and others.
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. –1 Peter 2:17
OK, I’m sorry. But it was fun meeting all those people. I mean, I hadn’t been in the dating world in more than 20 years, and I was told this is how it is “done.” I didn’t take it very seriously, and I assumed that others didn’t either. But several weeks into chatting with one particularly sweet friend, I realized he saw so much more into what was going on, and I risked seriously hurting him. Make sure that you take each person’s heart into consideration. And while it may feel like a game at times, you shouldn’t be playing unless you’re seriously interested. Show the people you meet the same respect you’d show someone you’d met in person. Guard not only your heart, but theirs as well, when you begin to determine if you’d like to move beyond friendship.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. –Proverbs 4:23
Since I’m an older person on the dating scene, most people I met had been previously married. And with the end of such a huge part of their lives, many come back into dating a little wounded. There’s nothing more appealing if you are feeling bad about yourself than having a slew of people vying for your attention. But, much like the player, engaging with people simply to rebuild your ego is extremely selfish. Work out your issues before you even dip your toes in the dating waters, so what you have to offer is a healthy person who is ready to be in a healthy relationship.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. –Philippians 2:3
Online dating brought to the surface a lot of issues I needed to deal with. But honestly, if I wasn’t the kind of person who is constantly in deep thought about such things, I wouldn’t have seen how I could’ve gone on for years in this process without understanding why it wasn’t working out.
Essentially, it wasn’t until I realized that I needed to grow up, decide what I wanted in a relationship, and drop the games that I was able to find something really meaningful. There are wonderful people to be found through online dating. (There are also the opposite, so always be careful in your pursuits.) But most importantly, look at yourself rather than others if you realize that it’s not going like you’d hoped. The problem — in all likelihood — is you.