Pepper's Ten Commandments of Online Dating - Playing by the New Rules
By Dr. Pepper Schwartz
Because I am a college professor, the new year always starts for me in the fall. I recognize that the actual year shifts numbers in January- but to me September is when the students come back, all bright eyed and eager to start new courses again.
So, in honor of the "new year" I'd like to go over my ten commandments of online dating and make sure we get the basics down now - we will get more complicated later! (Don't worry, there won't be a test..)
So here we are…drum roll please!
First, Think about who you are now. Not last year. Not the last time you dated, but now. What have you learned from previous dating, and relationships. What has worked the best for you? What has not worked at all. Write down on a list you strong points-and what you enjoy most in a relationship and in a person.
Second, If you haven't already- make sure you complete Duet, the compatibility indicator here on PerfectMatch. It should give you new insights into who you are now, or at least confirm what you know already. If you rushed it the first time through - consider re-taking Duet at a less hurried time! Then think about what you do want in a person that you'd like to spend the rest of your life with. Where would you like them to just like you? Where would you like them to be different? Think about what Duet has told you about yourself and integrate that into you list of what you want (and also deal breakers)
Third- Put together a profile that reflects what you have put down on paper and what you have learned about yourself from Duet. Your profile is what will draw people to you, or tip them off that either you are not for them, or you would not be likely to feel that they were what you are looking for. Make sure that the profile you write is not generic. For example, instead of saying "I am a romantic and like long walks on the beach and good wine". say something more specific and special about yourself for example,. "I love beaches and I find it the best place to meditate. I have actually gone to an Ashram and while it is not a way of life for me, I found it a very good way to get self knowledge and more compassion for my fellow man", Now that might not be you- but you get the point. Be specific and tell things about yourself that would tell people you were either the right- or wrong -person for them. You don't want to try and appeal to everyone!
Fourth - I suggest you not post your profile or your picture until you quickly have had someone you trust look at it. You may think your picture is sexy: a friend might think it looks trashy. You might think that you are not attractive enough and choose a picture that is blurry. Your friend will tell you (as we will) that people are often scared of someone who prints a picture that is blurry and that a clear flattering but not dishonest picture is a much better idea.
Fifth - Do not focus on your children in your profile and do not put pictures of yourself with your kids. Of course you should say that you have children, never be dishonest and especially not about something as important and irrevocable as your kids, but on the other hand, don't make it look like your prime concern is to find a mom or dad for your kids rather than a romantic relationship that will sustain each of you and the people you hold dear.
Sixth - Take it slow - Get to know someone on line. This is PerfectMatch - we focus on taking it slow, finding real relationships - not serial dating or 100's of matches. When you are ready talk to them, then meet them for coffee. Do some due diligence to make sure this person is being straight with you (did they say they teach school in Denver? Get the name of the school and check them out on Google. If they won't give you a name or they don't check out, don't go out with them until you have some data that indicates they are who they say they are!)
Seventh - Go slow--But not too slow! Talk awhile and find out who they are but don't email so often and talk so long that you are already in love with each other before you meet. I am not kidding. There are a lot of people who are so open with each other in email, and so entranced by each other on the phone, that they go to their first coffee ready to set the wedding date. Then they see each other. Sometimes it's a terrible shock because some one is much older or younger than they said they were. Other times it's not a shock but there is no chemistry (or at least one person feels that way) and it is hard to back off the relationship after one or both of you have basically said "I love you". It hurts a lot more to be rejected at first sight when you have been emailing love notes than if you have exchanged a few emails, talked once and decided to meet each other over coffee. When you have only invested a few emails and a couple of calls, it's not such a big deal if there is no "magic".
Eighth - Never forget about safety. Most people are perfectly safe and reasonably honest. (yes, it is common for someone to shave a few years or pounds off themselves- but very few people are married pretending to be single or intend to do harm). Still, it is the exception you read about in the papers- and we don't want you to be unlucky and meet a rat. Never give out your home phone number or home address until you feel you really know someone and can trust them. Meet then first during the day at a coffee shop or some place where there are lots of people around. Do not let them walk you to your car. Make sure they are who they say they are before you presume they are safe and truthful.
Ninth - If at first you don't succeed. Sure some people meet their soul mate immediately. It does happen. But usually it takes longer than that. It may take you awhile to know how to present yourself in a way that helps attract the right person; you might have many false starts or awkward choices. I assure you, that if you stick with online dating you will eventually meet someone to love-but the important part of that sentence is "if you stick with it", It can happen quickly, or take a year. You might get it right, right away - or you may need to change who you look for, or how you look for them many times. Do not give up!
Tenth - Be polite. Finally, it takes a village to be a great dating and relationship site. Treat people with respect and kindness and they are likely to treat others that way., If you have no interest in someone who contacts you, just write them and say you are looking for someone different - but thanks for their interest. I f you decide to stop a conversation with someone, tell them it doesn't work for you instead of just disappearing. Act as if you were going to bump into that person again and you wanted to act in a way so that you wouldn't be embarrassed to meet them again! If everyone observes these small but civilized behaviors, we can all have a great time online even if it takes us awhile to find our perfect match.
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