Well, what’s an academic to do when exploring the world of single life? I’ve surrounded myself with a couple of amazing professional singles who have kindly agreed to share their experiences in the world of online dating, after I dipped a toe in the waters and ran out screaming from all the rips around. It’s fair to say I’m too naïve or too concrete to join the game like everyone else, and when you see why, you might actually agree with me 😉
Now, unlike my usual pieces this is going to be a little lighter. Perhaps I’ll blame it on just coming out of surgery and being groggy from the stuff they loaded me with, but here are the very subjective, non-evidence-based research findings my side-kicks and I came up with so far (Please note this may apply to both genders);
What kind of online dater are you dealing with?
- The Scripter: People use standard lines they repeat to everyone! Yes! I’m serious. One of my friends, also on the same app, happened to be talking to the same people I was (cause on top of everything else the pool of people with the same filters is quite small). Imagine my shock when we compared notes and the same words, same pick-up lines, and general statements were used! There goes me feeling special 😉
- The Fluffy: If you think it’s okay to be honest and deep online, think again. My most experienced dating professionals have both told me that was a hard NO. The first messages should be about light-heartedness, fun, and serve to climb the rankings until you earn a meeting spot. Dead set. Write yourself a list of fluffy prompts and recycle them until you run out. You’ll be good to go for the first month or two.😁
- The Undecided: Most members on these apps don’t actually know what they want, and I get it, because I’m probably the same 🙂 They join but once they match, they float in the land of ‘what am I supposed to do now’, and so it becomes this game of hoping they want the same thing as you, which changes from one day to the next.
- The Impatient: Talk for five minutes, swap numbers after ten, and meet that afternoon. Well, if you’re as slow as me, you might find this a little confronting. It really screams ‘let’s meet and see if you actually look like your photo’ or ‘are you kissing skills up to scratch before we go any further’. Oh god… Talk about pressure haha
- The Ghoster: The opposite of the Impatient. Some people may send one message, disappear for three weeks, reappear, talk, seem nice, and disappear again forever. In this case, they could have succumbed to the Hunger Game death or prize. Who knows, or as I’m explained by my dating spies, one could have been the ‘back up match’. ‘not that exciting’, or simply ‘replaced by a shinier new option.’
- The Proposer: Watch for the opposite of the serial Ghoster; the quick online Proposer. Consider a few weeks in the online Matrix. Perhaps time is judged differently there, but for some people, an online connection is quick to lead to an intense exclusive relationship before you even knew you were in one.
- The Catfish: Photos… Well, I wouldn’t know cause I haven’t met anyone from a site, but apparently, if they actually used current photos or even used themselves at all, you’re a step ahead. Brace for anything is the rule. Photos of chickens, dogs, and anonymous beer bottles are common, but unfortunately, not as common as the tacky bathroom topless selfies (and for God sake, at least clean up the room behind you).
- The Horny: Now remember I *am* a sex therapist, right? I am mega liberal, non judgemental, and a free spirit, but that’s wow. A chunk of these members have a huge amount of sex with a huge amount of people and think nothing of it. If you happen to have been in long term relationship since your teens, you may find it overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a bad thing. To a degree I’m even envious, but how do we even start the discussion on consent, safety, and meaning?? How do you say ‘see ya’ knowing it’s okay never to hear from them again, and move on to the next fun? Here come all the questions that I have, and since I can’t answer them, I’ll just go off and write another romance novel, and call it a day haha
- The Nudist: The cousin of the Horny, minus common sense. These lovely little cheeky friends love to send message that look like “Hi” followed by their private parts on full display, most often without warning. I mean, come on, a little heads up?? (Thank God for the block function ⛔)
- The Multitasker: Ok so this one, I’m still processing. Apparently, once you’re on these apps, it’s ‘normal’ and/or not ‘unusual’ to be talking to dozens of people at the same time. My most experienced dating coach has a system to remember who is who with photos and details. Here I am, barely remembering my kids names, let alone the names of 50 random dudes. Maybe I need a dating PA?
- The Marshmallow: Do not, I repeat do NOT get attached, quoting another one of my dating coaches, to anyone via messages, texts or otherwise. Because until proven otherwise, these people are still playing the Hunger Games with rehearsed lines and getting attached to them is the equivalent of getting attached to Bixby, Siri, or Alexa. That one still hurts my heart, thank you coach “I”. 🤣
- The judgy: Labels, labels, and more labels! Be prepared for people to put you in a box quickly, the label bigger than my house 😉 If you message too often, you’ll be Caroline the Clingy, too little, Isabelle the Ice Queen, too deep, Debbie Downer, and too sexy, well, labelled ‘meet her now’ hahah. Now keep in mind, all these titles can be earnt as quickly as within one of two interactions!
- The Dopamine seeker: Now realistically, getting all this attention feels good. It has a way of boosting our self-esteem and confidence, so no wonder that some people keep the swiping going without commiting to one direction or another. If you think about it, all of this triggers our reward centre, not unlike chocolate but without the calories. Win-win for all 😉
- The Scammer: My favorite. Watching scammers in action is as fun as letting your 10 year old entertain salesmen on the phone for an hour. Tips: they’re always soldiers, doctors, or some other prestigious professions. Loaded, but lost in deserted hole somewhere having lost their access to money, and if you could just lend a little, you can be assured they’ll give it back.. In one life time of another haha
Alright, so now that I’ve gone through the list of current findings so far, and we had a good laugh, let’s focus on the hard, actual professional rules:
- First meeting in public
- Tell someone where you are at all times
- Be clear with your boundaries
- Communicate these as well as your needs and expectations to the person you’re ‘dating’
- Practice safe sex
- Nurture your emotional and mental health
- And have fun
Now, remember this is meant to be a little cheeky article and so while the topic is serious, the delivery is very lighthearted. If you’re in the world of online dating, I’d love to hear about your experiences good and bad, so keep in touch, and in the mean time, I’ll plot my next thirty novels and write up my perfect guy 😍.
Serious articles for those wanting more info on the joys of online dating”
- Online dating actual research
- Pitfalls of dating apps
- How to be better at online dating
- Six rules for dating
For anyone struggling emotionally, or wanting to chat about emotional health, or stress about relationships and/or single life, feel free to make a time to come and see me. You matter no matter your relationship status.