3 Online-Dating Dilemmas, Solved

Whether you’ve just signed up or are a veteran, these tricks will help you solve sticky situations as you look for The One.

By Julie Taylor

very online dater on the planet, though undoubtedly unique, passes through strikingly similar stages. And each of these can trigger dilemmas that can leave even the savviest online dater a bit stumped. To help you out with three key sticky situations—the frenzied, kid-in-a-candy-store rush of the sign-up period; the murky moment when you’ve met someone you like but are unsure whether to take down your profile; and the “I’m feeling a bit burned out” time—we’ve got some smart expert advice for you. What follows will help you sail through to success.

Dilemma #1: “I just signed up and am overwhelmed”

Email five people you like
Those first few weeks after joining an online dating service can be exhilarating, and while it’s tempting to contact everyone within a 40-mile radius who catches your eye, don’t do it. “The spam approach really won’t get you very far,” says Evan Mark Katz, author of I Can’t Believe I’m Buying this Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating. “It’s better to concentrate your efforts on contacting five people. Then, if those prospects don’t work out, move on to five more.” He likens this experience to
Once you’ve established via email that you’d like to know someone better, meet within three weeks.
juggling. “I can juggle three balls, but throw in a few more, and they’ll all come crashing down,” he says.

Stay organized
When you’re talking to a few people at once, it’s easy to forget who went to what college, or which person likes Italian food versus Chinese—so take notes. “When I first started online dating, I got everyone confused—and, in fact, caused a few women to break up with me because I got their likes and dislikes mixed up with someone else’s,” says Brett Wilson of Norman, OK. “They thought I was a player. Now, I keep a pen and pencil next to the phone, and create folders for each woman I’m dating to keep everything straight.”

Meet within three weeks
Too often, people think they’ve fallen in love with someone based on a few emails before they even meet. “Your mind can conjure up lots of romantic notions when you’re reading these wonderful emails,” explains Eva Hogan, M.A., author of Virtual Foreplay: Making Your Online Relationship a Real-Life Success. “But face it: Even if you have a supreme emotional connection, the physical attraction has to be there.” So, once you’ve established via email that you’d like to know someone better, move to phone conversations and then meet in person—ideally, all before three weeks have passed. Wait much longer and the actual person may not match the image you’ve conjured in your mind.

Dilemma #2: “I’m getting serious with someone—now what?”

Know the right time to take down your profile
Once you get serious with someone, a burning question soon presents itself: Should you or shouldn’t you take down your profile? Essentially, what you’re wondering is, do you want to see this person exclusively? If the answer is yes, go for it—and try not to fall
Being online pretty much all day, every day is a sure recipe for burnout.
prey to a “I’ll take mine down once my date does” mentality. “If you feel a love connection at an early point, it can feel a little soon to discuss taking down your profiles. That can add a lot of pressure,” points out Katz. “That’s why I recommend just taking yours down without even telling the other person. Odds are, they’re going to check online to see if it’s still up—and when it’s not, they’re going to ask you about it.”

Resist the urge to constantly check your new sweetie's profile is still up
While few people would be able to resist checking occasionally if someone they’ve been seeing has taken down their profile, doing so on a daily basis can be torture—and best to be avoided. If you find yourself doing so, that’s pretty much a sign that you should stop spying and try the direct route: Ask already!

Phrase it as a request, not a command
Once you’re ready to ask your date to take down his or her profile, be nice about it. No guilt trips (“I took mine down weeks ago, why haven’t you?”) or ultimatums (“I don’t want to see you anymore unless you do”). Just say, “I think we really have something here and was wondering if you’re ready to see me exclusively.” If your date says no, it’s up to you to decide if you can live with your sweetie possibly playing the field. If you do still want to see this person, you might say, “That’s fine. But I don’t think you’ll meet anyone you like more than you like me.” The confidence you show will speaks volumes—and may eventually convince this person of what you know already.

Dilemma #3: “I’m getting a bit burned out!”

Take breaks to rejuvenate
After you’ve been around the online dating block a few times, your eyes can get blurred and your spirit dampened from scrolling through too many profiles. Feel like throwing in the towel for good? Katz says this is the worst thing you can do. “If you’re unemployed and tired of job-hunting, you don’t say, ‘Eh, I don’t need a job. Forget it. I’m done.’ You plow through until you find something!” The same is true for online dating,” he explains. Even so, it’s fine to take a breather. “Log off for a few days or a week,” Katz says. “That way, you’ll be rejuvenated when you do go back to it.”

Analyze what’s not working
Once you return to online dating, Katz says it’s time to analyze the reasons things didn’t go well last time. “Are you emailing women messages like, ‘You’re cute—meet me at Starbucks at 11,’ then finding yourself on dates with total strangers? This is a very easy way to reach burn-out very quickly,” he says. “You have to do your due diligence and have a better filter.” Meaning, more emails and phone conversations so you know who can better assess whether you’re a match.

Date online in moderation
Anything in excess is going to induce a state of overload. So, try putting some time limits on how often you’re online. Being online pretty much all day, every day is a sure recipe for making your head spin. Jamie Plummer of La Crescenta, CA recommends never sitting at the computer for more than an hour at a time. “My computer has a built-in alarm, and I set it for one hour every time I log on to my dating site,” she says. “That way, I never feel like a zombie who’s stared at her screen for half the night.” Also, given all the new people who register online daily, if you take a break for a little while, you’ll find a whole new trove of prospects next time to you log in—that can be just the boost that’s needed to recapture the thrill of online dating. And one of those new members could very well be your match!

Julie Taylor is the author of How to Be a Dominant Diva.
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