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8 Reasons Why Online Dating Is Not For You

Not everyone can - or should - fight fires, race cars, paint portraits, or sing karaoke publicly. It's fine; we're all different, and as Jane Austen said, "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasure of the other." Online dating is no different.

Maybe all the cool kids are doing it; maybe even I found my boyfriend online; maybe your friends are urging you to take cursor in hand and dip into the digital dating pool. But maybe online dating - like spelunking or macrame or the forestry service - just isn't for you.

In case you're on the fence, here is a little guide to help you decide.

Eight reasons why online dating may not be for you:

1. You don't believe in it.

Online dating is not like leprechauns or unicorns: it exists. On the other hand, online dating isn't like buildings or blenders or other quotidian objects either, for without your belief in it, it simply won't work. You can't dive into the virtual dating pool half- heartedly. You need, like a firewalker, to suspend all disbelief and let your faith carry you across those moments when it feels like you won't make it to the other side. Commit to online dating with the unshakable fervor of a zealot and miracles can happen.

2. You think online dating is only for losers.

Nothing is only for losers -- nothing, that is, except for not trying. Even winners sometimes stay at home, pop a frozen entree in the microwave and get weepy while watching a Lifetime movie on television. It's an adage worn bare with overuse, but it remains true: the only way to lose is never to try. There is a wide, wide world of people looking to date online. They come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, sexual orientations and hairstyles. At least one of them will be perfect for a winner like you.

3. You can't be bothered to actually search.

Thinking that if you just sit along the walls of the online dance someone will spot you and pick you out of the crowd is an unfair -- and short-sighted -- expectation to hold. Sure, it's nice to have your profile plucked like a happy puppy from the litter, but you can't rely on it to happen. You took it upon yourself to find your job; you looked when you rented your apartment or bought your home; you searched when you purchased your car; you need to ask why you're sitting back and waiting for your mate to come to you. Get out and look; the view can be spectacular.

4. You won't post a picture.

Profiles with pictures are more than twice as likely to receive attention than profiles without pictures. When you opt against showing your pretty face, you are effectively removing yourself from high visibility. Sure, putting your picture online can feel very naked. It can make you wonder who's looking at it and why. It can raise a host of insecurities. It can feel extraordinarily off-putting. It can also get you dates. If you want people to notice you, you have to be where they can see you. Hiding in the dark won't help. Put your chin up, find a flattering photo and hit "submit."

5. You can't find it in you to care about your profile.

Your profile, even more than your picture, is you in digitized form. You need to think of that profile like a little garden, and you need to tend it, which means not merely writing the itemgraph about yourself, but editing it, changing it, updating it, reconsidering it and revising it. Think of your profile as an advertisement for you, and make sure it's fresh, interesting and spellchecked.

6. You don't "do" email.

The email box attached to your dating profile is like your lottery ticket: you can win big, but if you don't check the numbers, you'll never know. You need to check your email every day, at least once a day. And then, you need to read those emails carefully, and you need to read the profiles of the prospective daters critically. Look for words and phrases that ring with you; look too for those that don't. Spend time considering the person who has reached out to you, and then spend time considering your response, whether it's positive or negative.

7. Your mind is closed.

Think of your mind as an oyster: open, it's a beautiful thing, full of possibility and exotic pleasures. Closed, it's just a stony shell. If you go into dating with the preconceived notion that you can only partner within a very limited pool of people, you are dooming yourself to a very hard time. While it's good to have some idea of who and what you like, screening out everyone who doesn't fit a narrow description of what you want precludes the possibility that you will find you like someone you never considered previously. Widen the vista. Consider people older and younger than your original ideal. Consider people taller, shorter, thinner, heavier, darker, lighter and balder than what you thought you might like. You never know. You probably didn't like oysters the first time you tasted them either.

8. You won't make actual contact.

The whole point of this endeavor is to eventually, when you're ready, meet this shiny new person in the flesh. One sure way to fail at online dating is to stop short of breathing the same air as this fresh new human. On the other hand, should you want to succeed, should you want all of your work and hope to come to fruition, take the risk and get a cup of coffee with that other hopeful, hardworking and risk-taking human. You never know what you will find until you meet face to face.


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