OK girls, let’s get real. Online dating can be brutal. This year has been my initiation into all things online dating, and let’s just say that the tears factor has been exponential. I thought I was an emotionally stable human being before this — that theory has since been challenged.
And for those of you who have done it, know that online dating can challenge your mental and emotional sanity, and to do it in godliness can seem almost impossible. But through the endless messaging, countless phone conversations, text messages and date after date after date, I’ve learned a few lessons. And I’d like to pass these along to you: things I wish I knew when I started. Maybe they will save you a few tears as you navigate your own journey.
1. Realize that it will consume you (at first). When I signed up for online dating, I couldn’t believe how addicting it was. I forgot to sleep, eat and basically just took a break from it to do my job. Seriously, so many options. And for those of us who don’t get asked out often, it feels amazing to have so many guys messaging you and sending you questions. Just be prepared for its addictive, drug-like pull. I recommend strong doses of exercise, friend time and (honestly) time of humility before God so that it doesn’t become an idol in your heart and mind.
2. Don’t do the exclusive thing until you have the “exclusive” conversation. Yes, it seems so right and loyal and kind to only date one person at once, but let’s remember something: This person is a stranger. I don’t care how much info they have on their profile — they are a stranger. When you do the exclusive thing prematurely, you are devoting significant time to this person who is completely unknown to you. It’s like putting a non-refundable down payment on a used car without even checking under the hood. Unwise. Seriously, it’s OK to go out with multiple guys. Get to know their character. If one pursues you consistently, faithfully and asks to be exclusive, then be exclusive. But only then. And not after a first date. Believe me, it’s unwise.
3. Pray like the daylights for clear thinking. There’s a weird thing about online dating in which your mind wants to project a “perfect person” image onto your date. FIGHT THAT. Remember, we need to be filling our mind with truth and thinking of things that are true. We can’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. If he refuses to call you, ask why. There’s a reason. Don’t make excuses for the guy. Test him, ask him hard questions, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Remember, you are getting to know a stranger, so don’t say to yourself, I’m OK if all we do is email for four months. Look, you’re not online dating to find a pen pal. Guys are not clear sometimes when they are not interested, so you have to read their actions and not their words. Let’s be wise. If they don’t reach out, if they don’t call it a “date,” if they don’t call you, just let it go. They aren’t interested. Move on. There are so many people out there — yes, other people that love God and love others! Just move on.
Yes, this year I’ve cried more tears about this process than I could have ever imagined, but there is a bright side: In a culture of ever-growing isolation, this tool allows us to be available to guys who are also seeking marriage. I can “put myself out there” in a classy way and be faithful to the desire that God’s given me. But for goodness’ sake, girls, let’s be careful. Online dating is like walking in a minefield, and we are only a few wrong decisions away from destruction. So tread carefully. Pray desperately. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to have fun.
Praying for wisdom and grace for us all as we walk this out.
Leah is the oldest of four girls, works in the restaurant development world with a degree in Business Management, and enjoys exploring intentional living. This includes meaningful relationships, CrossFit, long-distance running, good books and maybe the occasional piece of dark chocolate.