So the other day someone asked me to write a post about the rules and general information about online dating. I am not a pro at this ( apparently there are sites that make you pros at dating) but what I have come to realize is that dating games change considerably after a certain age. When you’re young, frisky and 20, life is a bed of roses and you’re still exploring or even trying to understand who you are. But by the time you’ve hit the 35 mark, life changes drastically in all aspects. So like all other things in your life, including the jeans you still want to fit into, the rules are different!
So here it goes:
- Do not be fake: The first and foremost golden rule of any kind of dating. When you are having conversations with someone online, it is very easy to say things and pretend to like/dislike things in order to impress the other person. But this facade cannot continue for long and before you know it, you would have dropped your guard. And if the other person has some basic semblance of a brain, they will pick up on those signs and there goes your little bubble in the air. Of course it doesn’t mean that you have to pour out your life story to every right swipe, but it might be a good idea to also not tell them you have a horse you ride on early mornings on weekends just to feel the wind in your hair
- Set your expectations right: It’s fair to say that a large majority of the people online are NOT looking for long-term relationships. For most it is a past time out of sheer boredom- just to find a companion, to have a conversation or even just to have a physical relationship. All moralities and judgements aside, it is very important to know what you want and what you expect from the other person before venturing into this arena. Mismatched expectations often end in heartbreak or STDs, either option not really being desirable
- Have a sense of humour: Most people online after a certain age have had their share fair of breakups, bad relationships, bruised egos…you know the drill. So they are out here looking for someone to make them feel better about themselves and the world in general. And therefore when you top up that line when you express interest, with just a wee bit of humour, it is very attractive. But I would suggest staying away from Santa-Banta jokes. That just means you need to get off that phone screen and go back to school
- Not advisable to share pictures right away: In the more serious sense of the problem, sharing pictures of physical anatomy a few days into the chat might be a bit dangerous. You dont know the person at the other end and therefore you never know where those pictures will land up and you definitely dont want it ending up in your cousin’s whatsapp one day through a viral chain. Also men sending pictures of their “package” is gross! It’s not attractive when it’s like an appendage and not in action. Rarely do women get turned on by such images. I would also think that if you are having good conversation, enjoy that. Dont ask for faces, close-ups and profiles. If they turn out to be butt-ugly thats the end of your good conversation because all you’ll think of is “that face”
- Always offer to split bills on your dates: You might be drinking wine and he might be drinking beer. Or he might be drinking chivas and you might be sipping something simple. Whatever it is, always offer to split the bill. If all goes well and you move beyond a first date, there will be enough opportunities for you to take each other out. But little do you want either party going back and telling friends what a sleazeball the other person was for not paying. Might never happen but always better to be safe than sorry! On the other hand, as someone said, men are like peacocks, they like to preen and like to display their feathers and apparently paying a bill is one of these displays! (dont ask me, ask the men!) So I guess the lesson is to play by ear. See how it goes. But also always keep that third eye open. If the other person is only ordering expensive stuff, knowing they arent paying or splitting the bill, that’s a sure shot sign to know that either he is trying to impress you by what he drinks and how much he appreciates fine scotch or that he is a just a weasel! Either way, bad news!
- Do your own thing: He might be the most amazing person you’ve ever met and you might be chatting continuously the first two days. But that momentum dies out. And when it does, it’s fine to catch up every few hours than sit in office and instead of looking at your laptop screen, look at the phone and wait for a text to pop up or send texts every 5 minutes just to make sure the other person is alive. He did survive before you arrived on the scene and will continue to do after you’re not there. So let them be. Do what you did normally and chances are he will think you’re normal and your office colleagues and friends will not have to send you a text on whatsapp to get your attention because you don’t look up from the phone anyway!
- Treat the other person as a friend first: You’ve got similar interests. You like each other. It’s the same with your friends. You like them too and you most probably don’t gush at everything they say. If you are anything like me, all your endearments for friends are lined with sarcasm and nasty jokes. Do the same here. Don’t start gushing over someone you met online after two conversations just because you have things in common. Either they’ll run because of this sudden gush of attention ( men CANNOT handle attention!) or they will just think you’re a creep. Not desirable either way.
- Don’t disappear on someone: This is just a basic lesson in courtesy. You are talking to someone and it’s going well. But you get bored suddenly. That’s possible. Unless the other person is rude and basically a jerk, always let them know if you are planning to discontinue this conversation. Helps the other person get clarity and like Rachael says “closure” and move on with dignity. Men also have a dire need for space and something they apparently call “internal processing time”. Yes, most women cant figure that out but it exists. So it’s ok if you or them need time away. Just inform the other person. If you cant or don’t, well there should be an option on these platforms where you could be marked out as a dolt.
- Your date is not your therapist: There are therapists available in every city and every country. Sign up with one if you need your emotional problems, childhood issues, or whatever is plaguing you, solved. Don’t treat your date as your therapist. The poor thing is not even getting paid! Have fun, talk about stuff, share problems whatever. But they arent here to solve your issues about how a childhood breakup is not letting you trust anyone anymore. Figure out your problems. This is a dating site, not online psychic therapy
- Play it simple: Lastly, play it simple. It’s a date. Not an emergency c-section in a war fraught zone. It’s not the be-all and end-all of life. Treat it as that. Enjoy it as it is and while it lasts. If it goes onto becoming something else, good for you. If it doesnt, it’s fine. Not the end of the world. Kahani toh abhi baaki hai mere dost!