28 Jan A Match Made in Heaven
In November I married the love of my life. I met the one woman in the world chosen for me from all eternity, handpicked by God for her perfect combination of beauty, wit, charm, intelligence, and the very rare quality of being able to put up with my weaknesses and somehow love me even more for them. I am constantly humbled by her, because many times a week I realize yet another one of those imperfections. That is not to say she points them out to me, because she rarely does. Instead, her ability to patiently bear with me gives me the freedom to see them myself. However, that’s not what this post is about. I will definitely write more for married couples as I gain more wisdom from the mistakes I make (don’t worry, I’ll have enough for a blog- or maybe a book- soon enough.) Right now though, I want to give a nod towards the very large population of single men and women using the same means to find their vocation that Barbra and I did – online dating.
Let me first say that I am not claiming to have an objective or exhaustive list of principles to live by in the online dating world. I am simply sharing with you some of the observations I made during the year I was on and off dating websites. Disclaimer: In my case study of one, these worked. Your experience may be different.
Online Dating is Normal. This goes without saying for anyone already on a website, but online dating is not weird or awkward. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you want to join a dating website. Also, if you know someone who is dating online, or met their significant other online, you don’t need to give your social approval by saying, “ohhhh, that’s ok, that’s becoming so normal now. You shouldn’t feel weird at all. I know someone that met someone online.” We know it’s normal. Learning a few facts about someone before committing to a conversation attached to a drink at a bar is far more reasonable than hoping that a random encounter is going to work out.
It’s OK to Want To Date. I think a lot of people in their 20’s don’t want to admit they are looking for a relationship. It’s cool to be self-sufficient. If a date happens to come your way, great; if not, so what? So many well-intentioned articles encourage strength in singlehood. While it is true that we need to ultimately trust in God’s Providential guidance and timing in our life, we are fundamentally made for relationship. “Man and woman he created them…” Signing up for online dating is the most official way of proclaiming your desire for an “other.” It also opens you up to the vulnerable reality that you aren’t satisfied in your singleness. Our culture can use a good dose of humility; it’s ok to admit that we aren’t enough in ourselves. As John Beckwith stated in Wedding Crashers, “True love is your soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.” We are all looking for our counterpoints.
Know Your Surroundings. When you get on the site, you should know that there are generally three types of profiles. At one end of the spectrum are people who are socially awkward and can’t meet others in real life, at the other end are people looking for an easy hookup, and in the middle are somewhat normal people “tired of the bar scene,” who just want to expand their social reach. Describing how to spot which category a person falls into would take a whole other post, but it should be helpful simply knowing these 3 categories exist. This goes for the Christian and Catholic sites as well. On that note, I think Match.com is actually the best. I guess eHarmony is good too, but I’ve heard you can be rejected from the site by their personality test (but don’t bring that up around Barbra).
Don’t Get Stuck In Emails. There might be some temptation to correspond through email for an inordinate amount of time with someone. Here’s the definition of inordinate – anything over 4 emails each. There is absolutely no reason to carry on lengthy email correspondence before meeting for the first time. You can’t replace the experience of meeting a person face-to-face. Someone might look amazing “on paper,” but then after only 5 minutes of meeting in person it might be painfully obvious that there is no chance of chemistry. Some people write much more eloquently, humorously, intelligently, etc, than they actually are in person. (And the opposite is also true.) You need to know what you are getting yourself into before your heart starts to form an attachment to a person. Figure out what you need to say in those 4 emails and then set up the first date. For this reason its also good not to use online dating for long distance. Some people might disagree with this, but since a personal encounter is crucial relatively early in the process, long distance doesn’t really work. Keep your search radius to a distance you could travel consistently on weekends.
First Date; coffee or a drink. Keep it simple, keep it short. You want to be able to get out quick if the date’s a dud. You also want to keep some intrigue and interest for the second date if you are into it.
Of course, Barbra and my first date started as a simple drink, but then took an unexpected turn into appetizers, then dinner, and eventually dessert. I guess when it’s right, it’s just right.