It was 1964 when The Marvelettes first melodiously belted out Too Many Fish in the Sea. The newly broken-hearted of the day took a break from reveling and writhing in despair and perked up just a bit.
Because it’s true, right? There are other people out there. And were it 2012, that sea that was sung about would be the Internet machine. Online dating is the new normal.
We know that 25% of Canadians have dipped their toe (or much more) into the pool of online dating. And that 40 million Americans have done so. Hey, that means that more Americans have tried online dating than there are Canadians.
And we know that online dating is a fairly low-risk proposition that generally brings prospective daters exactly what they want. Right? Not exactly. If you type “online dating” into your go-to search engine, an overwhelming number of matchmaking sites that are teeming with available men and women will flood your PC screen. And, as with any group of anything, some of these sites will do what they say, and others will not. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Here is a helpful exercise. Imagine that a woman walks on to a field in a sports stadium. There is no game being played, but the seats are full. Full of available men. (Yes, the woman in this example is straight.) This is an intense image. Isn’t it? This woman, standing out on an empty sports field, will no doubt see lots of men that she is physically attracted to. (She may need binoculars.) But that is all she knows about them. Some of them would be excellent people to spend time with. But how on earth does she discover which ones? It is a vulnerable situation. It is akin to putting yourself out there in the world of online dating. Here are some pointers that might make that world a little easier:
Dating sites are like portals to different neighborhoods. In some neighborhoods, people are looking for sexual encounters, but nothing beyond that. In other neighborhoods, people want to explore the possibility of a relationship. In still other neighborhoods, people want to find someone to marry. You want to make sure that you are in the right neighborhood. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the inhabitants of the I-am-looking-for-sex neighborhood might be open to marriage — if only they meet the right person. Your chances of being successful in finding what or whom you are looking for spike up considerably if you are both walking on the same streets.
Ditch your Polly-Anna world view. If you have one.
Dating sites do their best to present accurate representations of the clients listed on their sites. They do not purposely set out to hoodwink people. But some of their clients absolutely do. Hey, it is not difficult to imagine that someone might misrepresent himself or herself in order to get what they want. People have been doing this throughout the ages. And these sites make it ridiculously easy to do so. Go in with your eyes wide open: make up some rules that you will follow when in the world of online dating. BTW, if you are thinking that you need to meet people in real world like usually, be sure to check out Tao System of Badass by Joshua Pellicer.
Here are the kind of rules you might think about (these rules assume that you are looking for a relationship and not the online equivalent of a one-night stand):
- Go slowly: If you find yourself responding to a chat request and not looking up until two hours later, or checking your dating site email every five minutes … you are going too fast. Set up a time – maybe one hour every two days – to check out the communication you have received. If there are some prospective suitors that intrigue you, contact them. Think about this contact as if you were meeting the person briefly in real life. And see what happens. You shouldn’t leap to a real world meeting before having exchanged a series of introductory emails, chatted over a period of time, and built up some trust in the person.
- Keep it real: Take some time to reflect before you dive into the online dating pool. If you are the kind of person that spills about their personal life upon first meeting someone in the physical realm, then by all means do so online. If, like most people, you do not feel compelled tell someone you just met about how your best friend and you haven ‘t spoken in a year because she slept with your boyfriend, don’t do it online. Try to match up who you are with who you are online. Let’s put it this way, you will actually meet this person if things go well. The online stuff that goes on before that should be a precursor to that meeting. Preliminary stuff only. That way you won’t show up expecting your soul mate to be sitting at the table when you have your first coffee.
- Be polite: There is something about the online world that makes us feel as if normal social conventions do not apply. We do and say things that we would never do or say in our daily lives. Successful online daters act online as they do everyday. Be friendly and polite. If you say that you will get back to someone, do so. And, importantly, insist that others be polite to you. If they are not, the best remedy is to cut off all contact.
- Be safe: If your instinct is telling you that there is something odd or not right about a situation you encounter, trust yourself. As The Marvelettes sang it, there are too many fish in the sea. The anchoring idea behind dating sites is that give you the opportunity to sort through potential mates and avoid problems. Use the system as it was meant to be used. Avoid headaches that may lurk in the future.
Don’t stop trying to meet people outside of dating sites
The old adage that warns against putting all of your eggs in one basket applies here. Dating sites are a tool; nothing more. Not a way of life. Getting out and about, trying new hobbies, still applies. Most of us still meet our mates at work or through a class or some such place. Balance is the way forward.
Once you have decided on a set of rules that will work for you, consider the benefits and drawbacks of dating online. Get your two feet firmly planted on the earth before moving forward.
The Up Side – Benefits and Pros
It is tough for some of us to meet someone in what is a busy world. An understatement, yes? Lots of us find it difficult just to get the dishes done in a timely fashion. Taking a class or heading out to a single’s club may be tricky. Dating sites are a tool that can be used at any time of day, working with your schedule.
Dating sites can work very well for the shy among us. Whatever it is, environment or genetics, some people can waltz into any social situation and feel comfortable, while others feel awkward and wait for an excuse to flee. A dating site is usually flexible enough to accommodate a shy person, letting them move at their own pace, and build a situation of comfort for any initial meetings.
When you sign up at a dating site, you have gained access to more potential daters than you ever could in the physical world. And not only are the numbers huge, but there is a common purpose. The cute guy who works at the rep theatre may be the stuff of your dreams; he may also be headed home to the stuff of his dreams when the film is over. On at dating site, you know that everyone, at least everyone who is being honest, is there because they want to find someone to date.
Sometimes we don’t want to tell the whole world what we are up to. (The whole world being our family and friends and work mates.) You can move quietly into the world of online dating and reveal what you want, when you want.
The Down Side or The Negatives
- Unwanted attention
One of the least savory aspects of online matchmaking is that people without manners or boundaries may proposition you in ways that revolt you. This kind of attention can wear you down over time, making you wonder just how many weirdos there are out there. The best remedy is to delete and block the senders of inappropriate messages and forget them.
- A disconnect between online connection and reality
It is possible to develop a real connection with someone online. To care about the person and want to be with them. And it is also possible that when you meet that same person for dinner, it falls apart. There are limits to what we can perceive in the online realm. Real limits. It can hurt when expectations come crashing down.
There are those who become addicted to the world of online dating, spending hours at a time in front of a glowing screen, compulsively searching for that elusive other. You need to live your life and relegate the online world to one compartment of it. Remember, if the idea is to find a mate, a person who spends their nights sitting alone in front of a computer screen is unlikely to continuing growing as an alluring, dynamic person. As referenced earlier, there are countless dating sites to choose from: here are 5 online dating sites worth a gander, in random order
- Lavalife As they put it, “Where Singles Click”. This well-known site has an aggressive approach, describing itself as having “thousands of hot, local, online singles”. (The “online” part is meant to convey immediacy.) There are three different areas provided by Lavalife, one for intimate encounters, one for dating, and one for more serious relationships.
- match.com The good folks at match.com promote themselves as successful in bringing people together in solid relationships; they write that more people meet partners there than at comparable sites. It’s ads are everywhere, online, TV, and in print.
- Guardian Soulmates. A dating site that is out of the mainstream of more aggressive sites. Readers of The Guardian,who tend to be into left-leaning news and explorations of culture, are likely to sign up at this site. If you are such a person, you may find that the odds of you finding someone are higher here than at a mainstream site.
- Plenty of Fish. A variation on the The Marvelettes’ title. This site offers millions of singles who have undergone a “chemistry test” so that they have a better chance of making connections with suitable partners. It has a reputation of having extensive lists of local singles for most areas.
- Love for Wits. Are you a little bit brainy? Or into intellectual stuff? If so, this may be the site for you. They focus on providing privacy, and on screening members before welcoming them into their community.
So, there are lots of choices out there; competition is a healthy state of affairs. An excessive number of options can be overwhelming, at least until you get your dating sea legs. But like most things in life, if you take things one step at a time, and you will be just fine. And you might even find what you are looking for. Remember that, when you date online, you are doing something that millions of others are.
You can make it work for yourself, especially if you take a sensible approach. Online dating sites cannot magically solve all of your problems in life. They are a tool that can allow you to meet some prospective partners, be they for a sensual encounter, a few fun dates, or a committed relationship. Too many fish in the sea. The Marvelettes said it first, but you might be singing their tune in no time at all.