Online Dating Success
by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
Christian dating sites have exploded over the past few years and many have reported positive experiences. However, some people have also had negative ones. Most of the negative experiences are the result of not meeting anyone significant online or feeling incompatible with potential partners met in person. Consequently, many walk away from online dating feeling like it didn’t work for them. Therefore, it’s important to learn certain skills to maximize the chances of having online dating success.
First, be proactive. There’s temptation in the online world for people to create a profile and then wait passively for others to contact them. Often, these people feel uncomfortable or intimidated reaching out to others. While sometimes this approach can be effective, most of the time it is not. Instead, it’s recommended to proactively search through other people’s profiles and initiate contact with members you find interesting. When filtering through profiles, it’s important to remember that couples who have the most success long-term are those with the most in common. Therefore, search for members who share your interests, values, and preferences and let that guide your choices on who to contact.
Second, do not rush into meeting a person too quickly. It’s recommended to have at least 8-12 message exchanges, allowing you more time to discern the person’s background and temperament. In addition, it will give you more time to ask questions to better determine if the person would be a good match for you. To facilitate this, write down what is most important to you, such as depth of faith, children, education, etc. and then ask those questions over the computer. By doing so, you’ll be able to decide if continuing the connection would be worth your while.
Third, be wise on the first date by putting safety first. It’s recommended to meet in a public place, use your own mode of transportation, bring your cell phone, and tell at least one other person where you’ll be and when you’ll be back. Also, spend time beforehand praying through what areas you would like to know further about the person. Perhaps you would like to follow-up on some of the information they shared during the message exchange process. In addition, think about your most important values and find ways to discuss those during the date. For example, if being close with family is a high value for you, weave that topic into the conversation to see if the person also shares that value. By approaching the first date with safety and intentionality, you’ll be able to determine if meeting again would be in your best interests.
Fourth, watch out for red flags. While getting to know someone online through smiles, messages, and dates, it’s important to continually be watching for certain behaviors. Some common red flags to avoid are someone asking for money, someone asking for your personal identifying information, and someone insisting on meeting alone. If you experience any of these things, it’s recommended to end all communication with the person. A less obvious red flag is a person who has little to no relationship with one or both of their parents. Occasionally, this may be for necessary boundaries; however, it often signals severe emotional dysfunction from the person’s background that could be replicated in their relationship with you. The exception to this is people who are aware of their broken past and have received treatment and healing for it. Also, be careful of people who continually blame others for their circumstances or people who are self-absorbed by continually talking about themselves. Both of these characteristics usually cause relational distress and will eventually appear in their connection with you.
So, as you explore the world of online dating be sure to do so with initiative, values, caution, and discernment.