Online dating

While single, I spent two years co-leading a group at my church that we called The Dating Christian Singles. We had great fun and fellowship, but we also learned a lot. We studied hard from many of the popular Christian-based dating and relationship books. We had spirited discussion. We also dated, and reported back to the group about our experiences.

From this experience, I will offer some snippets of hard-won intelligence for my single readers out there. I do hope that you can use these tidbits to grease the skids in your dating endeavors. I will call these pointers my “Online- Dating Truths.” Here we go:

It’s beneficial to re-frame online dating as “online meeting.” You must meet someone first, before you can decide if you want to have an actual date with them. Online profiles are not the actual person, therefore you cannot discern enough info from the profiles to make an informed dating decision.

Meet each possible mate in person as soon as possible, refraining from ongoing email relationships. They are a time-waster. Also, there are many peeps online who want only an email relationship. They are not ready or willing to actually have an encounter. Asking to meet as soon as possible after exchanging a few pleasantries will weed these people out.

Have a set limit of one hour to meet (in a safe place), and do not refer to this encounter as a “date.” Be firm at the outset about your departure time, and stick to it, even if you believe that your soul mate has arrived on the scene.

If you do not get a good strong first connection, thank the other person for meeting with you, but make no future plans during this first meeting. You will need time to process your feelings about the person and the interactions that you experienced with them. If pressed, let them know that you have a protocol that you are following with regard to your dating, and that you would like time to process your meeting. Hint: How the person responds to this statement will give you an idea if they are able to respect your boundaries.

Once feelings are processed, you can make a decision– either you will see them for an actual first date, or move on. If moving on, you will need to have a respectful way of communicating this. Be prepared with your plan for moving on in advance. Most often, after meeting someone, you will be opting out of a date.

Remember, it’s a numbers game, which can be an energy vampire in your life. Keep it short and keep it simple.

Good interpersonal boundaries are a must. Know your comfort level and remember, the physical aspects of a relationship should reflect the level of emotional connection and commitment. Even something as simple as hand-holding is important; do you really feel that connected to the other? If not, you are still friends, and it is unlikely, in our culture, that casual friends would walk together holding hands.

Which leads me to this tidbit: If you see this (or some variation of this) in a profile: “I am a very affectionate person,” it likely means that they are seeking a physical relationship. The operative word here is “affectionate.” It’s a euphemism, people!

Be prepared for emotional challenge. If you are approaching this endeavor correctly, you will be learning a lot about YOURSELF, not anyone you are dating. This is good. It will show you who you are and what you want. We cannot see ourselves clearly if not for the mirror of personal relationships and interactions.

Keep a journal of your experiences! You will be able to chart your surprising personal growth throughout the challenging process of dating.

One last dating tidbit: Be discerning, always remembering your value to God:

Matthew 7:6

Good luck, my single friends.

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