Online Dating & Taking Your Time

So many of us are looking for love, and afraid we will not get it. Some of us are already rejected by friends and family, disenfranchised by the government with no real recourse against discrimination. Sometimes it feels like romantic love is all we have. 

This can lead to some impatience when looking for love. Perfectly fit and healthy thirty year olds will despair. “I haven’t found love yet; I’m too old to find love now; I’ll be lonely forever.” And online, this can lead to a rather frantic matching, unmatching – constantly looking for the right person. 

If this doesn’t apply to you, that’s great! I want for us all to be able to date, not date, at our own pace. However, I do have some advice for those of us who are impatient with online dating, and wondering why it doesn’t work. 

Online dating is simultaneously very honest and upfront – and very distant and uncommunicative. If you are on AYA, you know that the other people on AYA are here for the same reasons as you. It takes out the worry that you’re imposing or being creepy or making things romantic out of context. It’s a dating app. Daters gonna date! But because you can’t *see* the person in real time, cues of body language, eye contact, closeness — all of these are gone, and you have to interpret what is being said without it. 

A good way to start communication (if you are initiating a chat) is to keep it simple, and try to find common ground. This is why it’s helpful when people fill out their profiles, and ask for what they want. If their profile says they hate discussing spirituality, you know it’s not the right person to discuss comparative theology with! Check out their profiles, try to see if you have anything in common. When you send a message, keep it forthright. Talk about what you both have in common in your profiles. Or hey, talk about current events or whatever you are interested in, see if they are interested in talking about that with you.

Don’t be afraid to take your time. You don’t always fall in love in the “real world” immediately – you might like their pretty face (or they might like yours!) but in the real world, as online, connections and intimacy are built over time. Feel free to give yourself, and them, both of you, the patience and space to build that connection, and trust. It’s okay to feel the jitters, and it’s okay for them to be cautious too. 

Patience is a weird thing. What does it look like for an online connection? It can mean holding off on meeting until both of you are ready, or holding off on cutting contact until you know them better. The only way to know them better? Keep talking to them. Try to keep away from filler conversation – how are you have you eaten have you slept etc. These can become very routine – you do want to know how they are, but you also want to know how they *feel* and *think*. Their breakfast is only relevant to you if you’re foodie – and if they are. 

Patience means being generous with yourself – but also with the other person. Take the time to think about what you want to say, and have heard. Try to listen to what the other person is saying and what it means for them, from their point of view. Are you unable to understand them because you have different backgrounds? What does this conversation look like from their perspective?

(Of course, if they are offensive, then please, cut off conversation. Being generous to yourself includes protecting yourself from abuse!)

Don’t lose hope. It might feel like you have to invest so much time and energy into this – but the hope of love is worth that time and energy, isn’t it? Being alive is the most hopeful thing there is, and as long as you remain on the app, and keep trying, there’s hope that what you’re looking for is right around the corner. Or the one after that.