Tips for Taking Care of Yourself in an Online Dating World
People say to me all the time, “You have no fear.” I tell them, “No, that’s not true. I’m scared all the time. You have to have fear in order to have courage. I’m a courageous person because I am a scared person.”
FIRST DATING AS TEENAGERS VS. NOW!
Let’s face it! The rules we learned about dating likely go back to experiences in high school. Dating practices were clear-cut then:
1) The first contact for a date was usually by phone. And it was almost always an individual we knew in person, or at least knew of.
2) The guy asked the girl out. And he paid.
3) Dates were often conducted in groups.
4) Parents made the rules…and met the date.
5) If someone acted out of line, there was swift retribution. And if there was trouble, there were usually adults to help.
Back in the day, our thoughts weren’t so much about safety. We just wanted the phone to ring!
Our worries were superficial. Was our skin clear? Did the prospective date like us? Would we be nervous? What would we talk about? We spent hours plotting what we were going to wear, thinking about plans for the date, and dreaming of the first kiss.
Without a care in the world, we didn’t think about what makes us connect today as adult daters: common interests, shared life challenges, grown up responsibilities. We just hoped to have a good time and make it back by curfew!
But now…now we are re-entering a dating world with completely different social norms. And the biggest change is driven by the online nature of our world. No longer do we always meet people in person first. No longer do we know much about prospective dates other than what they post on their dating profiles. No longer is there anyone guaranteed to be aware of our dating plans, venue, expected return, or emergency contact. In short, we are dependent on our own street smarts, our powers of observation, and our abilities to put safety practices into play.
SURPRISING CURRENT DAY ONLINE DATING STATISTICS:
According to a recent survey by online dating site EHarmony, online dating has dramatically adjusted the dating landscape. Here are just a few of the statistics:
- 40% of Americans use online dating
- Men make up 52.4% of online daters and women 47.6%
- 53% of people lie on their online dating profile (most popular deceits: age, weight, income)
- 22% of online daters have friends create their profiles (more women than men)
- Location matters – for example, 50% of New York state residents are single
- 48% of online relationships end through email
In short, online dating is impersonal. And it can be complicated by security concerns if you go into it without a plan.
TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR SAFETY IN TODAY’S DATING WORLD:
In the majority of cases, meeting strangers as prospective dates is generally safe, provided you take charge of yourself.
How to do that? By setting boundaries. Here are the decisions you’ll want to make:
> How much personal information to share.
> Where to meet and for how long.
> Who to inform about your plans.
> When to make an exit.
> How much intimacy you want, will allow, and when.
Each situation is different, but at minimum, you always want to feel in control of your own person. That takes both good instincts and soul searching.
In my book “Mom…You Just Need to Get Laid: The Adventures of Dating After Divorce”, I describe fifteen true dating stories with fifteen different men. Each situation was unique and there was bravado on my part in a number of them. I am happy to say that by a combination of awareness, planning, trust and optimism, I was never put at risk.
My advice to you is to pay attention to your gut. It will never fail you.
Write to me with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise to answer!
When you decide to dip your toe back into the dating waters, write to me at Kate@KateSomerset.com and tell me what happens. I am interested!