Common Sense Online Dating Tips
Recently, my friend, a divorced woman in her late 30s, came to visit. My children love her, so they hung all over her, even when we wanted to discuss "grown-up" topics, like my friend's love life (or lack thereof). My daughter, an eight-year-old with VERY good hearing, offered some unsolicited advice when she "accidentally overheard" (translation: eavesdropped) on a conversation we had about online dating. It turns out that she has very strong opinions about the matter, and rather surprisingly, her take on it was quite insightful. Here's what she had to say.
There's More to Someone than Their Photo
As we were discussing the photos of the available men my friend had searched for, my daughter asked, "Why would anyone decide who to go out with based on a photo?" After we stopped laughing, several hours later, we realized it was a good question. Why should she immediately discount the guy with curly red hair or the one with the bulbous nose? Once we stopped only looking at super-hot guys, tons more availability opened up, and the guys seemed to be better matches for her.
My daughter's attitude is extremely healthy, and while probably unrealistic for most of us to put into practice, we could all use a reminder that a photo only shows the surface of a person, and that the person's true worth is inside. If you're rejecting someone with a great profile just because he's bald or has funny facial hair, you could be missing out on the love of your life! Sure, appearance is a factor, but don't let it be the ONLY factor.
Be Open to New Things . . . to a Point
When we mentioned that a standard first date involves meeting for coffee, my daughter vehemently declared that she would NEVER go on a coffee date. Intrigued, we asked why. Well, because she doesn't LIKE coffee, of course! After we had a giggle at that, we informed her that there are other drinking options at coffee shops, and she loosened her stance to say that maybe she would do it if she could get hot chocolate. We agreed that would be an acceptable compromise.
Her compromise position was very smart—she agreed that if she were dating, she would try something new (a coffee shop), but stay within her comfort zone (hot chocolate) so she could be relaxed and happy. A win for all!
The lesson we can take from this? Be open to new things when you're starting to date someone new, but if you know that you don't like one thing, ask for something else. Be open, but still be true to yourself.
Dates Suggested by an Eight-Year-Old
- Rollerblading in the park
- Paint your own pottery
Choose an Activity that You're Comfortable With
My friend had been conversing with a guy who suggested doing something active together like ice skating or Rollerblading. Immediately my daughter spoke up: "You should definitely go Rollerblading and not ice skating, because with ice skating it is really cold when you fall down, and then you feel like you have an icy puddle in your pants. And I bet that would be uncomfortable when you're trying to get to know someone!"
Two good rules when you start dating someone new: try to keep the opportunities to embarrass yourself to a minimum, and if you're trying to avoid ending up with bruises or wet pants, it'll be hard to focus on communicating with your date.
Don't Blow All Your Money on a Fancy First Date
After we discussed the coffee shop option for a first date, my daughter wanted to know where people go if they really hit it off and want to extend the date. We told her that it is customary to go to a nice restaurant for dinner in that case. Of course, she was aghast at the wasteful habits of adults: "What happens if you pay for dinner at a fancy restaurant and then break up a month later? All your money is gone! You should just go to Taco Bell."
Once again, my friend and I struggled to keep our laughter under control. However, she had made another good point: dating can be expensive. If you don't have deep pockets, don't pretend that you do just to impress your date, because one of three things will ultimately happen:
- You continue to go out with this person, but cut back on extras after the first few dates, making her think you're cheap and take her for granted;
- You continue splurging on fancy meals and expensive dates, and get yourself into financial trouble; or
- You stop dating the person you spent so much money on, and decide that dating is a bad investment because you lay out too much money for no positive emotional return.
Solution? Think creative, inexpensive dates, if your budget is tight. (If not, more power to you! Enjoy your Michelin-starred restaurants and opera, while the rest of us catch a movie and go to the Cheesecake Factory afterwards for a treat.)