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.
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3 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons I Learned from Online Dating”
The being outcome independent point is right on the money. With dating, or anything else in life, having a attitude that any outcome will be ok is a recipe for happiness.
I hear you Sarah!
It can be a minefield. As I swipe left and right it can get me, one, realising you haven’t had a match in quite a while! But, yes as you say, if you are happy with yourself, and love yourself, you can start to appreciate that people ‘rejecting’ you, they are actually just rejecting a short snippet of an online existence.
I suppose to take this to heart is a bit silly in a way, loving oneself can act as a plate of armour to it! And boy, I feel like I need me some armour sometimes!
Words of advice about online dating:
1. Posting pictures on your profile is paramount. But unless the people who are viewing your profile are interested in photography, they are only interested in pictures of YOU. They are NOT interested in pictures of your family, pets, vacation, etc.(unless you’re in these pictures). So don’t post pictures you don’t appear in on your profile.
2. If you make a date and want to break it later, have the decency to call the person on the phone. Only cowards break a date by sending an email or a text message. Also, don’t act like a real jerk by either completely avoiding any contact with the person after you make a date….that is, not calling them, not answering their phone calls, and not returning them……., or waiting until they call you before you tell them you can’t keep the date. Again, have the decency to call them, and make the call when you know you’re not going to keep the date.
3. If someone sends you a message on an internet dating site, and you’re NOT interested, DON’T reply. Sending a reply will probably entice the person to keep sending you more messages. But if you do, don’t say something stupid like you’re already dating someone. It’s not believable….if that’s really your situation, then why are you on the dating site?
4. If the main picture on someone’s profile is appealing to you, and you’re thinking of contacting this person, have the common sense to look at ALL of their pictures, and anything else on their profile that may be important to you, BEFORE you decide to send them a message.
5. If you receive a call for the FIRST time from someone you’ve given your number to, and you can’t talk to them at that time, then YOU should return the call. DON’T tell them to call back. They took the initiative to make the call, and obviously didn’t know it was a bad time for you to speak, so YOU should have the decency to make the return call.
6. Don’t let your friends use your profile to browse through a dating site, especially if you’re a paid subscriber with full membership privileges. Sometimes the friends will contact other members on the site without your knowledge, the recipients will think it’s you, and when they find out it’s someone else, the outcome is not always friendly, …..OR the recipients may not be interested, but think you’re interested in them …because they think you’re the one who sent the message, … and maybe tell their friends about the message they think you sent them……OR your friends could do something that violates the dating site’s terms and conditions which could get you kicked off the site. Most of these dating sites offer a free membership, which may not allow communication with other members, but do allow viewing other member profiles. So when your friends ask you to use your membership to view profiles on a dating site that you belong to, tell them to sign up for their own free membership.
7. Post the CORRECT city and state where you live in your profile….not a place where you used to live, where you want to live, or where your friend lives. It sounds like basic common sense, but intentionally posting a city, state or country where a person doesn’t live does happen. If you’re contacting someone on a dating site, and you tell the person you live somewhere different than what you have posted on your profile, it’s a real turn off, especially if you live in another state or country.