A Little Seasoning is Key to Online Dating
By Erika Ettin
Let’s say you have a job that you really want. It’s your dream. It’s the job you’ve been waiting your whole career for… and you finally land that interview! Would it be better to start with that dream job interview, after years of interviewing skills collecting some dust, or should you instead go to a different interview—a practice—first? Most people would say the latter… and I agree.
Now, let’s say that dream job is instead a dream partner. If you’ve been out of the dating scene for a long time, perhaps due to a long-term relationship ending, then using online dating to gain practice is a better solution than going in cold and perhaps not being comfortable.
It’s All About Experience
A now-married friend once wrote to me, “So… I just took down my JDate profile because I started dating someone a few weeks ago and we DTRed last night. I didn’t meet him on JDate, but I do think that I was a lot more comfortable going on dates with him because I’d been getting a lot of practice on JDate, figuring out how to be slightly less awkward at ending dates, and really identifying what was important to me, and which behaviors to look for that signaled that the person had the characteristics that I was looking for. Everyone knows the old adage that ‘practice makes perfect’, but I don’t know if a lot of people really think about how much that can be applied to date-like interactions, which can be really complex. I really do think it helped me build up my confidence and comfort level with guys.”
I completely agree. I’m glad my friend had had this practice so when she met the guy over e-mail, same guy who she later married, not only did she have the knowledge that he was the right fit for her (since she had met plenty of men before him on JDate and elsewhere). But she also had the confidence in her own dating abilities, which hadn’t been quite present before.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you should go out with just anyone to get some experience. However, it’s important to remember that going on dates cannot only help you become more comfortable with yourself in the dating arena but can also help define what you’re looking for—and not looking for—in a partner. Many people go on dates with a certain “type” in mind, only to find that what they thought was their “type” could be overturned with the right combination of great chemistry and things in common. It can also, as my friend notes, help you hone your conversational skills. While every date may not lead to a trip down the aisle, nor should it, each will fill your toolkit with useful skills to apply the next time, both in yourself and in who you’re seeking.
Don’t Miss Any Opportunities – Listen and Learn
Too many people poke their heads into a singles’ event or quickly scan a page of eHarmony for 30 seconds, and then decide right then and there that no one interests them. 30 seconds! First, this is a very closed-minded and negative way to look at things. Second, if you’ve already committed the time (and often money) to these events and/or sites, it’s worth to actually try and meet new people (even if only to become friends), while practicing the art of witty banter, flirtation, and conversation with a wide range of different people. As I’ve already said, online dating facilitates a lot more dates and gives you access to people you wouldn't necessarily cross paths with in day-to-day life. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
And, if one of these “practice” dates isn’t going as planned, rather than closing down, like many of us do, take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes practice is the key to making you ready for that real connection the next time. And when you come face-to-face with the man or women you’ve had your eye on, you’ll know you’re fully equipped to make a great impression.
So take it one date at a time. Practice will never make it perfect (we’re still talking about dating here!), but practice will make it a bit better, for sure, and a little seasoning can go a long way.
And if you’re not sure what to talk about on that first date and are looking for some creative questions to break the ice on the first date. If anything, at least you know you’ll have some interesting conversation.