… There’s tips galore on how to make the most out of your online dating experience; how to create the most eye-catching profile, how not to scammed, things you should do as a woman to keep yourself physically safe, etc etc.
But what about keeping yourself emotionally safe?
You’ll often hear in regards to safety that taking your time before meeting a stranger from online is the best way to go. Some recommend exchanging several emails over a period of time to gauge if there’s any chemistry and to share several phone calls before the big meeting.
But I am going to say for you to do the exact opposite. Never invest so much time online with someone that you build a rapport with them before ever having met. That is what puts you most in danger, emotionally and physically.
If someone told you that you were going to meet a complete and total stranger for coffee what would you do? You would be extra cautious, of course. You would meet in the day time, not share any personal information with this individual (full name, number, address etc), drive separately, let your friends know where you were going and how long they can expect you to be gone, meet in a public crowded place, and perhaps carry some type of weapon. You would be a little nervous and on the lookout for red flags and dangerous personality cues. You would certainly never think of going off somewhere alone with a total stranger or getting in their car. Even children know not to ride with strangers.
Now imagine someone told you that you were going to meet a person who’ve been emailing for over a month, someone you’ve spoken to on the phone with several times and perhaps exchanged friendly or flirtatious text messages with. Someone you are already enamored with and feel like you already “know.”
Are you going to be as cautious? Probably not. But why? In both instances you are meeting a complete and total stranger for the first time. So what changed?
In the latter, your defenses are WAY down because you think you already know the person you are meeting. And that is dangerous. You are ten times more likely to put yourself at risk and make poor decisions in that situation. Because you already kinda like the person you are meeting and you don’t want them to not like you, you are less likely to be cautious and assertive if/when the situation gets uncomfortable. They’ve had a month of correspondences to groom you into trusting them. You think you are going to meet a person you “know” but in reality you are in fact still going to meet a complete and total stranger.
Because you’ve lowered your defenses you are no longer in stranger alert mood, looking for red flags and troublesome personality cues. You are more likely, after a month or so of interaction, to dismiss away any red flags that would normally send you running out of fear of offending the other person.
I understand that women want to take their time before meeting a perspective partner – they want to weed out the undesirables, save themselves time/money by meeting only a select few, or take it slow because they are getting over a previous bad relationship. Not that any of those are bad reason, but don’t let them turn into excuses to hide behind your online dating profile building relationships with strangers.
Trust me when I say you are going to learn more about a person in your first 15 minutes of meeting them then in a month of email exchanges and phone calls. This advice can go for guys and girls.
Guys, if the girl is drawing out your meeting citing safety as a reason, then politely tell her you completely understand and would not object to her bringing a friend along for a quick coffee at this very popular (crowded) cafe you know of. If she still objects but continues to email and seems interested in you, a couple of things can be going on.
1) She could be grooming you. Grooming you for what? Perhaps for the fact that the pictures she sent you are over a decade old or that she’s just super insecure and she’s hoping the longer you “talk” the more you’ll like her and be more forgiving with whatever flaws she thinks she has. Either way, prolonging the actual 1st meeting is a red flag.
2) She may actually have no intention of meeting you at all. She may be married or already have a boyfriend and that relationship is not doing so well so she’s “testing the waters” online to see if she’s still got it before actually getting back out there. Yes, women do this. She could also be trolling online because she needs an ego boost and having several men emailing her flirtatiously feeds that need. Or she could also be looking for a pen-pal, some one she can safely dump all her emotional baggage on. You can recognize the pen-pal type of women right away because she’ll be over-sharing her personal details way too soon. (Ladies never share personal, intimate emotional details with strangers)
Girls, recognize how your overly cautious attitude comes across to people (see above) and realize you may be self sabotaging your chances by investing too much time in the wrong people. Also, take the same examples above and apply them to any man that is putting you off.
So how much time is the right amount time between seeing that fantastic profile and the first meeting? Well you’re supposed to let your profile do the work for you. Why would you reply to message or wink from a man who says on his profile that he doesn’t want kids while you said you want a big family? Obviously he didn’t read your profile and just contacted based on your appearance. That or he doesn’t give a damn about how many kids you want. That’s inconsequential to him. For God’s sake woman, I don’t care how cute he is, delete that message right away. Stick to your convictions. If you answer him and end up agreeing to a date with him and the topic of family size comes up and you say you want a large family and he says he hates kids and you don’t call it a night right then and there he’ll know you are weak willed, lack conviction, and worse, can be easily charmed by him.
Save yourself time in the long run by truthfully completely your dating profile. When looking over his profile pay less attention to the common interest and more attention to the core values. Just because you both like the Death Cab For Cutie and foreign films doesn’t make you two a match. If you’re conservative, pro-life, and a practicing Catholic and he’s a liberal, pro-choice, agnostic what the hell you doing still hanging around his profile for? Run girl.
That’s how you let profiles do the work for you. Know what you are looking, be discerning, and stick to the script. If he doesn’t have what you are looking for, and you don’t have what he’s looking for you’re being selfish and wasting both parties time by chatting the other up.
Now that we’ve established you let profile details do the heavy lifting in your search, let’s move on to the message. You’re bound to get a lot of messages that say “‘Sup girl. You look fine. I saw you like (insert whatever) in your profile. So do I. Let’s chat.”
This is probably some dude sending the same message over and over to whomever in hopes of a bite or two. You don’t have to answer every message. Girls, I know we don’t want to be rude but I am telling you, these are complete and total strangers online and you are not in the least bit obligated to any of them. You can delete, ignore, and block away to your heart’s content. Guys, I encourage you to do the same thing.
Eventually you’ll come across someone who has sent you a message and who, from their profile, you might also share common core values… CORE VALUES, ladies, not the same thing as common interests. At most it should only take 2 or 3 emails to see if their is mutual interest. And because I like my men old fashioned and assertive, if I don’t have an invitation to meet in the first 3 emails I no longer invest any more of my time and energy.
Men are straightforward creatures, they know what they want pretty much right away. If he isn’t asking you out than he may never have plans to or is grooming you. He may have something to hide or is cat-fishing you and a meeting would expose him.
Ladies, it’s OK to walk away. If nothing concrete is developing from your online exchanges there’s no point investing more time in hopes of one day maybe meeting. Either meet or move on. The longer you postpone meeting and exchange emails, the more likely you are to become emotionally invested and share intimate details with them… a complete and total stranger.
Personally, I am against online dating. I think it’s silly and objectifying but I do recognize that it’s a common way couples meet now-a-days. So if you are going to meet that way, at least do it smarter and keep yourself safe from emotional manipulation.
File Under: tl;dr