“Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.”
I’m pretty sure when our late President Thomas S. Monson gave this council back in 1987 he wasn’t talking about online dating.
Yet no truer words could be spoken when facing down our own personal Goliaths of being single and Mormon. So as I take this quote, cut and paste it into my own lifestyle necessity, I can’t help but think of all the rocks I had slung into the dating pool never hitting my mark.
OK, maybe my dating life shouldn’t be rolled into a David vs Goliath metaphor. I can, however, take this opportunity to learn from past attempts and offer some guidelines for how to navigate through the battle that is dating—specifically the online variety.
The Goliath of them all.
Before you question the validity of my advice (lack of college credentials aside) I come armed with a conglomerate of experiences from men, women, old, young, some named David, none skilled in the art of rock slinging.
That being said,
1. Read all instructions before you begin.
Like your IKEA shelving unit, make sure you understand and adhere to that dating site’s particular parameters and suggestions. Unlike your IKEA shelving unit, you will need other tools to help you in this journey: keep Gospel-centered standards, continue to spiritually progress, and don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from your divinity.
2. Assume you aren’t the only item in their shopping cart.
This is more of a safety warning to keep you from getting burned. If a potential is talking to you, even going out on dates with you, there should be an automatic assumption that he/she is talking and dating with other people as well. Whether they admit to this or not (a respectable person will tell you in advance that they are), it still plays true. So unless you have that exclusivity talk please see it for what it really is: a cesspool of dating complications.
3. Online profiles = marketing strategies
Let’s be honest: when the product you are advertising is yourself, you’ll automatically create a profile to show your best qualities. Which means everyone else is doing the same exact thing. Always be honest with who you are and what you stand for.
4. Never go off first impressions alone.
It’s OK to get excited from the “butterflies and sparks” emissions, but just be sure you slow it down and don’t let these new feelings drive your approach. It takes time to see who people really are once they let their guard down. Seeing them in their own environment helps you see one side of them, but until you take them out of their comfort zone you’ll never know how they react to everyday frustrations. (ie: how they handle confrontations, bad drivers, Whovians).
Bill Murray said it best, “If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all over the world, to places that are hard to reach and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.”
Realistically and morally you can’t travel the globe with every candidate but the advice still stands: to be open to experiences that take you both out of your comfort zone, leaving you vulnerable and raw.
5. Listen to your instincts.
If something seems off then it probably is. Don’t get so wrapped up in the flirting and attention that you lose focus on any underlying issues. If you get past the “trying to impress” phase, you’ll find that some quirks and flaws you’re OK with, but you need to see the red flags for what they really are. You should always be mindful and prayerful about a person you are dating.
6. The same rules of dating still apply.
Don’t rely on text-only conversations. Give respect and expect it in return and don’t break up on Valentine’s day. February 15th is a perfectly acceptable date to start anew.
7. K.I.M. — keep it moving
With online dating as soon as one person loses interest there will be another one around the bend. It’s one of online dating’s better aspects. Take a moment to learn from the experience with the attitude that you didn’t fail, you didn’t get rejected, and it will not define who you are.
Take this advice for what you will; dating isn’t rocket science but once you sludge through the litany of questions, profile set-ups, and strategies to get you the best possible algorithms, you can’t help but wonder if launching chimps into space would be an easier endeavor.
Best of luck.