The Real Life that is Online Dating

In a world where swiping is the norm, I have begun to wonder what is the actual success rate of online dating? As a Family Science major in FMSC260 (shout out to my Terps!), I learned the majority of couples meet through mutual friends; a statistic that is now being challenged by online dating. Evidence can be shown for the success of online dating, but as a twenty-something I continuously hear about the frustrations faced with online dating. The largest complaints being, “I have conversations that never go anywhere” and “He never ended up confirming the date.” So, let’s tackle these!

  1.  I have conversations that never go anywhere.
    • As much as we want to believe everyone is out there looking for his/her special person, the reality is that everybody is using the app for a different purpose. Some people are looking for actual relationships while others are looking for something only physical, and some are just looking to fill their free time. For those of you who are stuck in the endless text conversation, it is likely you have encountered someone who is looking to fill his/her free time, but not actually invest time in another person. The other possibility may be you have encountered someone who does not have much dating experience and may not know exactly how to ask you out in person.
    • So, how do you combat this? Keep conversations going for a suitable amount of time, but get to the point. After exchanging messages for whatever length of time you feel comfortable with and think you would like to meet this person, shift the conversation to making plans. If you do not feel comfortable outright asking, then lead with something like, “Do you have fun plans for the upcoming weekend?” and gauge how to move forward from his/her response. It will either cue that person to ask you about plans or if you get a positive response, will open the door for you to ask about getting together!
    • Remember: Just because you have a great conversation over messages, does not necessarily mean you will connect in person. If you feel like it is better to talk with the person a bit more before meeting, ask to give him/her a call! Oh my gosh, I know – actually pick up the phone?! Say what?! Trust me, it works. If you can hold a real-time conversation with the person while on the phone, it will gauge your potential for an in-person meet-up!
  2. I have plans tomorrow! Wait, I think I do… do I?
    • Real life example (names changed to protect the innocent!): During the week, Grant asked Cary to meet up for tacos on Sunday. Cary happily agreed! Saturday night got here and Cary had not heard anything from Grant, she started to wonder about her Sunday plans. Sunday morning passed, lunch time arrived, and still nothing from Grant… Cary figures this date is not happening and now she is left frustrated for having set her schedule to be able to meet Grant for tacos, and for wasting time she could have spent with others.
    • Not cool taco man! This happens far too often in the online dating scene… Here are my suggestions:
      • So, your conversation has been going well and he/she finally(!) asks you about getting together! You enthusiastically agree and then the talk about free dates/times begins. In the initial conversation, the date and time (or at least time frame) for the date should be set. If the two of you are looking into options for what to do, that is OK, just make sure you have a set date and time frame!
      • The evening before the date, the initiator of the date should send a text to confirm the plans for the next day. At the absolute latest, the confirmation should be made early on the day of the date (this is really only if your date is in the evening). If you do not hear from the person confirming the date, you are NOT obligated to go on the date.
        • For example, say Grant had sent a message at 5:00pm on Sunday for “dinner time” plans – it is perfectly acceptable to reply, “I had not heard from you so I did not think we still had plans. How about we set another date/time that will work for both of us?”
        • Say Grant texts you the next day striking up a casual conversation, you are allowed to express your dissatisfaction, just make sure you do it in an honest, respectful way. For example, “Thanks for reaching out, but I have to say I am a bit surprised. We had plans to get tacos last night, but I never heard anything from you.”
        • If you do not hear from Grant, that is just plain rude on his part and short of him having an actual emergency, move on. Stay tuned for a new post, “Ghosting: Why is this a thing?
      • I realize some people will 100% disagree with me on these ideas and that is OK. Ultimately, this is all up to personal preference and how flexible you are; however, in being courteous to others and respectful of someone’s time, a confirmation (or cancellation for that matter) should be made within a reasonable time frame (typically 24 hours). Think of it as setting a precedence from the beginning for what type of common courtesies you expect!

With all that in mind, keep swiping my friends, but do so mindfully, honestly, and respectfully!

Special thanks to my own friends for allowing me take our real life examples and share how we deal with them!

Cheers y’all!



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