As members of the technologically advanced 21st century, we are all familiar with the concept of “online dating”: typically, I associate the idea with those stupid jingles on commercials with paid actors claiming to be happily in love forever and ever and ever. However, there’s definitely more to it than that, and some companies have become more accessible and in-tune with the millennial dating circuit via apps. A big question with this rise in accessibility is, “Is it safe?”

 

Well, yes and no. Certain apps and sites require specific information such as age and location, but many of them have options in the settings so that information won’t be displayed on your profile. Basically, your location is used to keep users you come in contact with within a certain range of where you live, for convenience. But explore the settings, view your profile, make sure you know what information is given out and if you’re comfortable with that information being public. As far as the rendezvous goes if you choose to meet someone, please please please do it in public. Somewhere busy and lit, like a restaurant. If you feel uncomfortable, end the date early and alert one of the staff members. I’m sure there’s a tall, bulky man on duty somewhere that would be more than willing to walk you to your car to ensure your safety. Also, text your exact location to a friend or family member before you go, let them know periodically that you’re okay and what time you expect to leave.

Aside from me being a total Mom and harping about safety and stranger danger, it’s also incredibly important to have fun. That’s why you’re doing it, right? To explore others, explore yourself, get a feel for the other fish that are out there. If you’re not having fun, you’re probably doing it wrong. I can’t speak for men, but as a lady on a dating site, I enjoyed seeing the “pick-up” lines men could come up with. Some of them were more entertaining than others, but some were downright hilarious. And even if my relationship with each other these people didn’t go anywhere, there are some that I’ll remember for a long time simply because they made me laugh instantly. On some apps, like Coffee Meets Bagel and Plenty of Fish, you can create a list of preferences in the other sex: explore what you actually prefer in a person. Change your preferences and see how it changes your results. Go for the guy you think you’d never go for in a million years. The worst that could happen is you have a really awkward date and then never have to speak again. Or, stay within your boundaries if you’re more comfortable. As long as YOU are having fun.

Another important aspect of this dating realm is expectation. Before entering this world, you should be completely aware of why you are doing it and what you expect to get out of it. That way you can feel for others’ expectations before you pursue a relationship. And here’s a few tips, just to put it bluntly:

  • Not everyone is going to want to marry you and think you’re the greatest thing to walk on earth.
  • Not everyone is going to meet your standards.
  • No everyone is going to even be nice or tolerable.
  • Really just don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed.

Knowing your expectations can also gauge how healthy this is for you personally. If you’re experiencing some raw emotions, perhaps a recent breakup, I suggest you don’t do it. Being angry and hurt won’t help your other prospects. (Please, trust me.) And since we’re talking about health: PLEASE TAKE A CONDOM WITH YOU. Yes, I’m talking to you too, ladies. Don’t ever expect the other person to come prepared.

Now that we’ve all prepared ourselves for how and why we’re dating online, let’s talk about what you’re going to do when you get there. Profiles are pretty important, but on apps like Tinder the pictures speak louder. Still, don’t overdo it with your profile. I’ve found less is more. I literally just had “I like beer and my dog” as my bio, and the swipes came pouring in. However, when I rambled a little about my major and favorite poets, crickets. Okay, not really, but it was significantly less. However, this ties back into your expectations. If you’re on there for a real relationship not something casual, adding personal information can help weed out the less interested. I’ve also heard that some people use the “just keep swiping” method and don’t even look at pictures or bios, they simply sift through them when they can see all their options. Please don’t do this. This will cause yourself more headache later. Just take your time.

And also, let’s remember, there is absolutely no shame in this. In the beginning, I felt almost embarrassed when people I knew popped up in my likes or on my feed. But let’s face it, no one cares. It’s become pretty common to get on these sites at least once.

So just enjoy the ride.

P.S. I once had a guy tell me he liked my name because it reminded him of his favorite species of giant salamander.

 

Giant. Salamander.