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5 Ways to Online Date Without Losing Your Dignity -- Or Sanity

How to take digital flirting into the real world.

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There’s nothing wrong with trying to look nice (I would say deodorant is probably a wise baseline), but don’t pull out the big guns. When you aren’t distracted by your body rebelling against your tough fashion choices, you’ll be at your most charming and interesting.

3. It’s a Two-Way Street

I have friends who get preposterously bent out of shape if an online date doesn’t call for a second date. “I thought you didn’t really like that guy?” I say, confused. “I didn’t,” they say, “but it would still be nice if he called.” Face palm.

Set aside for a moment the sexist notion that men are “supposed” to do the calling and focus for a minute on the inanity of this line of thought. Online dating is hard enough without you using it as a personal ego-boost. Give your dates a little credit and don’t waste each other’s time.

If you start racking up double digits like me, you’re going to encounter exactly four scenarios: A) you like each other, B) you like him, he doesn’t like you, C) he likes you, you don’t like him, and D) you don’t like each other. Situation A is obviously the optimal scenario, but situation D is the next best by a mile. Situation D lets you both say a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and move on with your lives. You should be thrilled when the one you don’t like doesn’t like you either because it means fewer uncomfortable texts sent and received.

Situations B and C can be tricky, no doubt about it, but they are not the end of the world. All you’ve invested is an hour or two of your time and the cost of a glass of wine or coffee (see #4). Send a polite “I’m flattered but I’m not feeling it, best of luck” text and be on your merry way. When you get that text yourself, let that roll right off. You don’t like everyone, everyone isn’t going to like you; it’s called being human.

4. Keep the Cost Down

This is a first date. It will mostly likely not lead to anything, that’s just statistics. You are both taking a little leap of faith here, so financial equality is the way to go. Start small with a drink or coffee date, and leave a little room if you want to follow it with a walk, another drink, a meal, etc. Split the tab because you’re both adults and there’s no good reason you shouldn’t share both the perks and burdens of this little social experiment.

5. Honesty is the Best Policy

End of the date etiquette is tough, but being dishonest does you both a disservice. If you don’t want to see him again, for the love of online daters everywhere, don’t say you’d like to see him again! Did you have a nice time? Are you glad you met up? Was it nice to meet him? Did you enjoy dinner? These are all fine, polite, true phrases.

The flip is even more essential. If you would like to see this person again, say so! Be a grown-up and say the words, “I had a good time and I’d like to see you again.” There, was that so hard? If your date is a stand-up human being, they will give you an honest response. And if it’s not what you want to hear, just remember that you can’t win them all, and you’ve likely inflicted the same disappointment on a date in the past. We’re all in this together.

 
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