World Wide Search: The Savvy Christian's Guide to Online Dating
By Cheryl Green
Look Inside Before You Log On
Know Yourself before Making an Introduction
If you want to maximize your success in online dating, take time to prepare yourself before you log on. Be honest about what you're hoping to achieve, why you are drawn to meeting others online, and whether you have the emotional and spiritual foundations to be discerning and wise in the decisions you will need to make.
The best time to begin dating online is after you have examined your goals, motives, and expectations. You want to begin the process on the right foot so you won't end up learning lessons the hard way.
Why Are You Single?
Don't you just love this question? If you're tired of hearing it, then rest up. You'll have to answer it repeatedly online. Some of the most common questions asked in profiles at online dating sites are variations on these:
- Why are you still single?
- Have you ever been married or in a committed relationship?
- How did the relationship end and what did you learn?
You will regularly hear these questions asked by potential matches, and you need to have honest answers ready. Your answers also reflect how well you are coping with your broken relationships and where you are in the grieving process. Although you shouldn't reveal intimate details of your past relationships, most people want to know in general terms what happened to your most recent serious relationship. They are curious about whether you have accepted the breakup and have learned whatever lessons there are to learn. They want to know, as well, if you have healed from the depression, resentment, and anger. No one wants to date a person who is bitter, cynical, or still mourning the loss of an ex.
Think about your most recent dating relationship as you complete the following inventory.
1. How long ago was the breakup or loss?
2. How important were the person and the relationship to you? Explain.
3. If your relationship ended in a breakup, what would the other person say caused the breakup? How would you describe the cause of the breakup?
4. If the relationship ended in death, how would you describe how well you are coping with the loss? Do you honestly believe that you could trust your heart to loving another person as deeply again?
After answering the above questions, review your responses and ask yourself the following questions. As you think about these four questions, pay close attention to any red flags that indicate you might not have healed enough from your last relationship to begin searching for a new one. You might want to seek input and perspective from a close friend or trusted family member. Ask that person to read over your responses so you can get an outside appraisal.
1. What is the overall tone of my responses? Do words such as angry, bitter, resentful, or depressed come to mind?
2. Am I blaming my ex for everything that went wrong in the relationship or for most of the problems that led to the relationship's failure? Explain.
3. What positive things, if any, came out of the relationship?
4. Do I have lingering anger or resentment toward my ex, myself, or God? Explain.
When you include a physical description in your personal profile, it's important to be current and accurate without going into too much detail. I see many profiles where people describe their size or body proportions as "average." This may accurately reflect the person's self-perception, but it can put off matches who have a different understanding of what average means-or even what overweight means.
In part, this is a cultural issue. Some cultures have a standard of beauty that elevates women with curves. In addition, many of us may be accustomed to a body type based on family history and experience in which a full-figured female shape may seem normal rather than overweight. A person from this particular culture or family background might tend to shy away from a potential match who is considered too thin.
Aside from the influence of background, people tend to judge weight differently. Many women may correctly consider themselves average because the typical dress size for American women ranges from 12 to 18, not the tiny sizes that Hollywood portrays as the desirable norm. So to avoid confusion over whether someone's body proportions fit a match's preferences, many online daters simply request a recent picture.
If you have concerns about sending a photo too early in the process, it's best to get that part over with before you invest too much emotion in an online relationship. Sure, the person could fall in love with your heart without seeing a picture. But he or she may struggle later with the way you look. Why live in fear of rejection? No relationship can grow if you are constructing emotional walls to protect yourself from possible rejection.
All of us have preferences and turnoffs. One person seeks a match who is thin, while the next person wants curves, and yet another person seeks intelligence and a sense of humor without regard to weight issues. Most of the time people think their weight, height, or body type causes them to be unfairly rejected. But often that has nothing to do with it. A person's character and personality can be powerfully attractive or a major turnoff. In any event, if you have to reject a potential match, make sure you discuss your preferences in Christian love. And never give the person false hope after you have determined the match is just not right.