A few years ago the idea that you could meet a potential love interest while staring into a computer screen must have seemed novel to some and downright bizarre to others. Today, the online dating industry generates roughly two billion dollars in revenue each year, and has become a mainstay of human social interaction. Telling someone that you met your significant other on the internet is no longer an oddity. It’s as normal as saying that you met your boyfriend or girlfriend at your local coffee shop or bookstore.
Personally I’ve tried out online dating for a couple of years now and I’ve had experiences both good and bad. My most valuable take-away from the entire experience has been the following five life lessons that I would like to share with you. For starters, I’ve learned that…
1. Rejection isn’t all that bad
The great thing about online dating is that it lets you approach so many potential love interests in such a short span of time. The flipside to this, however, is that you quickly learn that for every favorable response you get you have to go through about ten times as many rejections; sometimes even more.
But you know what? After a few hundred attempts at connecting with complete strangers, a handful of successes and a whole load of rejections, I started to learn that rejection really isn’t all that bad. In fact, it helped me appreciate the fact that we humans are all wonderfully different from one another and that not all of us are meant to get along. And what’s more it actually helped me learn to appreciate the genuine connections that I do find with people even more.
2. Being outcome independent is important
The funny thing about online dating is that sometimes it can go really well and at other times go really badly, without any apparent reasoning or logic at all. For example, one day you could be enjoying a deep and meaningful conversation with a stranger, and the very next day they could go cold on you or stop responding altogether. What’s even more annoying is that most of the time you won’t even get an explanation of what went wrong.
As frustrating as this can be at first, eventually it teaches you the valuable life lesson of being outcome independent. You see, sometimes in life things just won’t go the way that you want them to. No matter how badly you may want something there will always be factors that are out of your control. Once you accept this fact and learn to be outcome independent you’ll find yourself better able to be in the moment and enjoy life as it comes.
3. It’s important to trust your gut
One of the biggest life lessons that I learned through my adventures with online dating was to always trust my gut; regardless of what my mind tells me. For example, there were a few instances when I was talking to people who I thought seemed like a good match, but instinctively I felt I wasn’t really going to be attracted to in the long time. I would tell myself that I need to be more open minded and give people a chance, but eventually, no matter how hard I’d try, I’d come to the realization that my initial gut feeling was right.
This ability to switch off my mind and listen to my gut is a life lesson that has helped me immensely ever since. And not just with my dating life, online or otherwise. It’s helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life whether it be with making new friends or taking on new challenges.
4. Honesty really is the best policy
The dangerous thing about online dating is that it’s a bit too easy to represent yourself as something you’re not. For example, it’s easy to take a few hours, read a few articles and come up with a profile that’s funny as hell and supremely witty. But the problem is that if you aren’t actually funny in real life, the people who found you attractive because of your profile are eventually going to figure this out and be turned off as a result.
This ability to be completely honest with myself and accept myself for who I am was one of the most important life lessons that online dating taught me. You see, once I was able to be honest with myself about who I was and what my strengths and weaknesses were, I was able to focus on nurturing my strengths and eliminating my weaknesses much more efficiently.
5. You need to love yourself before you can be loved by someone else
The world of online dating is full of people who seem so desperate to be with someone else, only because they can’t stand to be alone. And sadly enough these are exactly the type of people that potential suitors shy away from the most. It’s the people who seem happy with themselves that others are drawn towards the most. These are the people who would like to be with somebody, but are quite content with enjoying their own company until then.
And as far as life lessons go, recognizing this fact that the world and the people around you will take you at your own estimation is one of the most profound pieces of wisdom that you can ever acquire. Remember, I’m not advocating any sort of excessive cockiness or narcissism. All I’m saying is that in life to truly be loved and accepted you need to first feel that you are worthy of that love and acceptance yourself.