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Digital Dating

Esther Kane,


O
kay - I'll admit it. I am one of those rare women who is very happily married and been with the same guy for over ten years and who is still blissfully in love. I also admit that my heart still flutters when I see my hubby at the end of a workday. I would even go as far as to say I still have a 'crush' on this sweet man o' mine. Sorry if that makes some of you want to be sick- but alas, it is true.

However, I'm not going to apologize, for my dear readers, I have certainly kissed my share of frogs and had been in countless miserable love affairs before meeting my beloved. In fact, I have come up with an entire self-help book on the subject: "Dump That Chump": A Ten-Step Plan for Ending Bad Relationships and Finding the Partner You Deserve" (www.dumpthatchump.com). I have received numerous "thank you" calls, e-mails, and in-person testimonials on the effectiveness of the tools I share in this book and it warms my heart.

In this short article, I want to share some thoughts I've been having about a topic that appears in nearly every conversation I have with women, whether it's a client or a girlfriend - dating via the internet. I cannot promise any sage advice or brilliant conclusions on this topic as I'm just learning about the concept myself, but I will do my best to share what thoughts I have gathered thus far.

It seems to me that a lot of women are a bit wary of internet dating and for good reason- there are some really strange people out there whom you may regret meeting after a first date. However, I also hear from many women that it's getting harder and harder to meet a decent 'potential mate' in our fast-paced and busy lives; especially once you're over the age of forty or so. It seems that the selection begins to narrow substantially in our thirties when most people are busy shacking up and having families. This is often the time when single women who want to be in a long-term relationship and possibly also have children start to panic. They say things like:

"My biological clock is ticking- I need to hurry up and find someone so I can have a family".

"I need to find someone now while I'm in my prime, looking and feeling my best".

"I'm tired of doing it all on my own- I'd really like to have someone to share both the burdens and the joys of life with."

And so on.

These are all very understandable reasons to get serious about dating and many women will often give into the idea of internet dating to get what they are looking for. I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with internet dating, but for obvious reasons, I think one should do it very cautiously and slowly. I've seen so many women meet some guy on one of these sites, leap into bed with him, and then be absolutely crushed when he doesn't want to continue seeing her after that. I realize that this phenomenon also happens when we meet someone through other means, but I think there are a few things about meeting someone over the internet that promote this a bit more:

a. When we're with a computer screen, and not a live breathing person in front of us, we can easily get caught up in fantasies about whom that person is and jump in too quickly.
b. Since roughly 55% of communication takes place through body language, we can miss an awful lot of "red flags" by only looking at a photo and reading a profile and e-mails.
c. It's easy for people to manipulate the information they are giving on a website to trick you into thinking they are someone they are not, either through words or photos.

Let me guess, you've known of someone who saw a photo on a website which turned out to not resemble that person in the flesh.

Saying this, it is my opinion that getting to know someone over the internet is not the ideal way to start a romance. However, it may sometimes be a necessity. Keeping this in mind, I'll end with some general tips on dating safely in cyberspace.


ESTHER'S TOP FIVE TIPS FOR DIGITAL DATING

1. Make sure you protect your anonymity if you post yourself on a dating website- don't give out your real name right away and definitely not your address, place of
employment, or phone number. There are a lot of wacky people out there and you don't want to give them easy access.

2. If there is an option to screen potential dates without them knowing you're doing so, go that route just in case you decide you don't want to correspond with them.

3. If you decide to meet someone in person, do it in a busy public place with lots of other people around you in case they turn out to be a bit sketchy.

4. When meeting someone for the first time, keep the meeting short and light (no more than two hours). Watch for 'red flags' during this meeting (i.e., signs that tell you on a gut level that this person could be not-so-nice). My clients tell me all the time that they KNEW on the first date that this person was bad news, but they chose to ignore the red flags- don't make the same mistake!

5. Make the first date short and sweet. Meet for coffee or tea in between meals. Don't waste a lot of time and energy the first time out with someone. And make sure you have either real or imagined plans for right after the meeting. A good one many women use is, "I'm meeting a friend at such and such time, so I have to leave now".

Good luck!




Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is the author of the
soon-to-be-released book and audio program, "It's Not About the Food: A Woman's Guide To Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies" (www.endyoureatingdisorder.com) and "Dump That Chump"(www.dumpthatchump.com), and "What Your Mama Can't or Won't Teach You"(www.guidebooktowomanhood.com). Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women's Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: http://www.estherkane.com

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