There’s nothing wrong with wanting a life partner. It’s a part of our makeup, we are social creatures, and we feel loved by having people around us. Life can be challenging, and having someone in your corner to support you, or being there to help another, is something that most of us need at some point in our lives. You only ever hear the horror stories of people who’ve met online, but in context, the chances of meeting someone incompatible (or completely psycho) is no greater than being hooked up by a friend.
How do people usually meet?
How many friends have hooked up with someone spontaneously on a night out? Overindulgent on alcohol, inhibitions gone wild and then…What?
Maybe you’ve been introduced to friends of friends, or you’ve met someone at work. Perhaps you even met someone at church.
When you’ve realised that even your extended circle of friends and acquaintances doesn’t hold that special someone, how do you meet someone different?
There has to be a trick to breaking out of your existing social circle, but I’m not sure what it is.
Meeting At Work
Meeting a significant other at work can be problematic. While your company might not have explicit non-fraternisation rules, some unspoken ones persist, even if only from bad experiences.
Blind Dates, Friends Hooking you up, and trying to take a friendship further
All of these have been tried and tested methods of finding out that you’ve exhausted your social circle of attractive, compatible, potential partners.
Church, Gym, and Other Hangouts
I’ll admit, these are some of the better places to meet people, but most of the time, they are merely full of your existing social circle. Let’s not talk about your regular hangout at a bar or nightclub — that’s just entering the realm of beer-goggles and bad decisions. Plus, you’ve probably already made your way through the most likely candidates. In any of your usual haunts, you still have the same problem — you know them all.
Escaping Your Normal — When No One Fits
You might realise earlier rather than later, depending on how well you fit in with where you find yourself in life. Otherwise, you might spend years or even decades trying to find someone who fits as your life partner from a pool of people who just don’t fit the bill.
Unless you want to change your entire routine completely, change your job and your social circle, you need a way to find people and potential partners outside that sphere.
Online dating can seem like the last option you have. However, you don’t have to approach it as a last chance saloon for the terminally lonesome. You’re not lonely; you just haven’t found a great candidate in your immediate circle of acquaintances. Let’s be honest, when you’re looking for a life partner, or at least a long term one, you don’t want to settle for ‘good enough’.
Take Your Pick From the Online Pool
Online dating isn’t a magic solution that will offer up your perfect match within seconds of filling in your details. Much as it would be nice, there is so much more involved in human attraction than a list of preferences on either side.
One of the bonuses to online dating is that you can lurk for a while, with no pictures you’re unlikely to get much in the way of unsolicited harassment, and you can see profiles to get a feel for the environment. The key takeaway here is that you don’t have to do anything until you’re ready.
I’ll admit, my and other friends experiences are a few years old now. When I was online dating, Tinder wasn’t even a twinkle in a developers eye, but the “swipe left/right” is not something I can get on board with, it’s too instantaneous with no real thought.
You can chat with people online if you wish, and if they’re someone you can talk to, that’s a great start. You might find that you spend hours on a chat platform because you can’t stop talking. It doesn’t mean that you’ll have a physical attraction, but you might have found a new friend.
The Next Step — Meeting in Person
The next one is a scary step. How do you know if the person (or people) you’ve been talking to for the past few weeks are worth meeting in real life? It’s tricky, and you need to know that you have control over your entry and exit from the situation. If you’ve been talking for a few weeks, you might even have face-timed, or spoken on the phone. However you’ve been communicating, having an accurate image and description of the person is critical.
Safety is crucial for both men and women; both parties need an exit strategy. I can only work from my own experience, but friends have also echoed these safety tips, and they also met their significant partners online.
Meet somewhere new and neutral I would suggest not meeting at a place either of you frequent regularly. If things don’t go well, you don’t want to keep bumping into them every time you go there, or worse, avoiding somewhere you like to reduce the chances of meeting them again.
Meet in the day time (or at least daylight in the summer), there’s less pressure for a day time meeting. Day meetings don’t usually include alcohol, which can dull your senses and screw up your judgement.
Have friends handy. I knew I had friends available when my dates arrived, and also made sure I had somewhere other than home to run to if anything got out of hand. It might sound like I was overly cautious, but at this point, I was hiding my online dating from my friends and family — wholly misplaced shame. Yes, I took friends to a “date” so when I did meet them, it looked like a casual meeting. Okay, I’m a lousy friend AND a terrible date.
Take it Sloo-oowly. There’s one downside to dating outside your social reach, and that’s that there is no mutual acquaintance who can vouch for either one of you. There is every reason to take things at a much-reduced pace. That said, don’t shy away from introducing them to your circle of friends, and be wary if they want to keep you away from theirs. Your friends and family are there for a reason; they can spot things that someone in the first flush of attraction won’t. Moreover, your date’s reactions to your inner circle will be important too.
Both Sides of the Coin
I’ve been on both sides of the argument over the benefits of online dating. I’ve also been ambushed about the downsides too. I’ve had the stalker, who called and breathed heavily down the phone at me for six months. I’ve also had the guy who took time to know me but wanted nothing more once he’d sowed his oats. I’ve also had the weird one who tried to plan our future life together after a mere four weeks.
I also met my husband — yes, thirteen years, a child, and migration later, we are still together. I have a friend who met his wife on the same platform — they’re expecting their first baby this year. And a colleague who also met her husband online six years ago, they’re thinking about children now too.
Nothing wrong with the “old-fashioned” way
You might want to argue and ask what was wrong with the old way of doing things before the internet. And I’d answer ‘Nothing!’ but people are different. Going back only one generation, and comparing our coupling to that of our parents, they rarely strayed beyond their social circles. They had the lonely hearts ads in the newspaper, but the shame and ridicule attached to that were unbelievable. Fewer people went away to university and expanded their potential partner pool, and more people were willing to settle for what they could find in the immediate vicinity.
If your looking for an exceptional person to be your lifetime love, you can’t be willing to settle. You need to look further afield; the internet just made that easier.