By Sarah Fader
Updated December 12, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Sometimes it's difficult to meet that special someone if you don't belong to a social group or hang out at a bar. If you didn't meet anyone while you were in school at your job, what are the other options? In this day and age of social media, online dating is an option that is literally at your fingertips.
Different Types of Online Dating
Online Dating Websites
Numerous websites have a database of people who want to get into the dating life. You can peruse different profiles, or you can opt to fill out a quiz, test or refer to a guide, then you can then contact them, or they may contact you. These sites are for more casual daters who may or may not want a partner to marry.
Many times, there is a free trial period before you must sign up for a membership; that way you can give it a try before you decide if it's the right fit for you. Privacy is protected, and you may or may not want to contact someone who contacts you, all initial communications are through the site.
There are numerous websites where you fill out a lengthy questionnaire about what you like and don't like, what you are looking for in a partner, where you live if you are willing to relocate…among many other questions. The site then compares your responses to the responses of others who match you best,and then you contact them, or they may contact you. Relationship websites are for those who are looking for a long-term, forever partner.
This is a great option if you want to have some privacy while you get to know another person online. You can protect your identity and let them know things about yourself, as you feel comfortable sharing information since privacy is protected through the website. Many times, there is a free trial period before you must sign up for a membership. On most sites you only have access to the profiles of the people that you match up with; you can't peruse other profiles.
Specific Niche Dating Sites
There have been a plethora of niche specific dating sites popping up online. Whether is a site for animal lovers, a specific religion, a certain passion, a particular age range; there is probably a site out there for you. One of the best things about these sites is that you automatically know that you have at least one thing in common when you sign up on a niche-specific site.
There are online groups that allow you to sign up depending upon your interests. Once you sign up for these groups, you will receive messages when the groups have meet-ups. You can then comment on whether you will be attending the meet-up or not. Groups include social outings, sports, spirituality/religion, day trips, etc. This is a good place to meet others in a relaxed atmosphere while being involved with an activity you love. Conversations may be easier because you know you have something in common just by being in the group.
These groups are usually free to join, but there may be a fee for the activity, so you only pay for the activities you take part in. If your social circle is small or you are new to a community, this may be the perfect fit for you.
There is a multitude of apps for dating; some are free, and some have a minimal cost. These may be a little more intrusive than some of the online websites because personal information and photos may be used upfront to attract others. This may have a bigger draw for a younger population. If you want a more immediate response, apps would probably be best for you.
Social Media Groups
Many social media platforms have private groups that you can join, and it is a great place to meet like-minded people. You usually have to answer some questions before you are approved to be in the group, so there is a bit of policing that goes on. The administrator for the group usually watches over the online interactions and has the last say about what can and cannot be posted. If any posts are inappropriate, they can delete them or may contact authorities if they feel the need. This is a group that you should join at your own risk, and if you find it makes you uncomfortable, you can always opt out of the group.
What To Expect with Online Dating
It is important that when you decide to meet someone by one of these methods, you do so in a public area. You want to trust others who are going through the same method of dating as you, but you still need to be cautious and safe. If the person insists on a more private location, you may want to move on to someone else. If someone is genuinely interested and wants to get to know you, they should be accommodating to your suggestions.
You can decide on a mutually convenient location and, if you are nervous, you can always tell a friend to call you at a certain time. If things are going well, move on to the date. If you aren't feeling a connection, tell the other person that the phone call was about an emergency that you must deal with. Cover all your bases.
What If This Happens?
*Your Date Doesn't Show Up: You can try reaching out to them since it may have just been a case of nerves or they may have a legitimate reason for the no-show. If you contact them and they don't respond, just move on. They obviously weren't meant to be the ONE.
*You Like Them/They Aren't Into You: This can happen and if it does, just move on. You don't want to start a relationship with someone who just isn't that into you. It will make for a messy break up in the future. Move on to someone who loves you for you.
*They Like You/You Aren't Into Them: Respectfully and pleasantly let them know that it isn't a match. Don't tell them, "We can still be friends." Make a clean break so they can move on to finding their soul mate and you can keep looking for yours.
*You Have An Emergency And Truly Cannot Make A Date: Let them know that you can't make it to the date because of an emergency, but you would like to reschedule. You know how it would feel if the roles were reversed.
*They Make You Feel Extremely Uncomfortable On Your Date: Text a friend and tell them to call you. You can then say you have an emergency to attend to. If they persist in bothering you, you may want to contact the site where you met the person to see if they have any protocol to follow when this happens. In cases of extreme discomfort, you can always contact the authorities yourself.
Do You Have Doubts About Online Dating?
Online dating is not for everyone. Some may feel that it is embarrassing to have to go through this method or may feel uncomfortable with letting personal information flow freely over the Internet. However, many people have found true love and marriage through these methods. When you find someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you should never be embarrassed about how you met. The fact that you met is the most important part.
You would be surprised how many people just like yourself give these methods a try. Many people who join online groups don't have a lot of free time to meet others or have tried many other ways that haven't worked. Most people who utilize these methods have many similarities and commonalities, which is why so many people meet their other half.
If you have anxiety and stress about finding that special someone and trying any of the above methods seems overwhelming, you could contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need. It is private, convenient and will be one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your wellness. Do the thing today that your future self will thank you for.