Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Pursuit of Something Special

At some point, we all reach our fill of dating. Quickly followed by our fill of not dating.
Then maybe we get a subscription to an online dating site - again.

Hey, it just happened to me.

It sure seems like it should be simple, but there's so many opinions out there about online dating. Do this. Don't do that. They suggest women should let the man pursue, but is anyone telling men how to pursue?

Adding to the confusion and consternation, is that dating sites set up their rules of engagement for a single, expected experience, but it's likely each participant has a different strategy. Do you respond to everyone who contacts you? Is it kinder to email back a "Not Interested" or to simply not respond? Is one more hurtful than the other? When someone piques your interest, should you play hard to get? Can you type too much? Is aloof alluring?

For purposes of discussion, I'll use Catholic Match as the example. I mean, if you're going to search for a needle, you'll have better luck in a pin cushion than in a haystack, right?

Based on past experience, the most serious dating sites function in mostly the same way.
Here's the basic layout of features and ... uh... bugs:

  • There's a way to see who has viewed your profile and when.
    • Which means, if you return to a profile to learn more about someone, they can see it.
  • You get matches, and in CM's case, you can mark whether you're interested, not interested, or undecided.
    • From what I can tell, we don't get to see the rejection, or the acceptance. Only whether they've viewed our profile.
  • You can utilize email or chat functions for communication.
    • Email doesn't seem to reveal to the other participant whether or when you've read their email.
  • When you're logged onto the service, other users can see a green notice that you are indeed online.
    • Awkward.

So each dater has the same features, but may differ how they intend to use them.

Allow me to share an unfortunate example: The chat feature is not my preferred way to communicate, so I was pleased to learn that you can click "unavailable for chat". On the downside, the website doesn't seem to remember that preference from log in to log in. Already, this has caused a problem.

While I was logged on, and composing an email response to one suitor, I received a notification from another suitor I had been communicating with, requesting a chat. Of course, I didn't want to divide my attention, so I dismissed the chat and switched off my availability as not to be disturbed again.

When I checked my messages later, I learned the suitor was quite upset, accusatory and he dismissed me outright, quite rudely.

Clearly, different expectations, or simple online habits may interfere with the ability to connect. Just as the lack of vocal inflection, facial cues and context have plagued internet users for years.

It would be impossible to make universal guidelines for how to interact online. Perhaps that's part of finding the right mate, someone who shares or at least understands your approach is more likely to be a match.

Even so, with matching tactics and the best of intentions, negotiations may still stall. We need to know how to nudge gracefully, don't we?

That's when I turn to one of my favorite single's bloggers who offers advice on this very subject. Cindy from Veil of Chastity has been in my shoes. She met her husband, later in life, on a dating website. She has such a beautiful, calm demeanor, and advocates for women to be ever-gracious and sweetly demure. If that doesn't sound like you, don't run off just yet. Cindy wants you to be yourself, even if yourself is silly, blunt or jaded. Well, maybe not jaded. Just always add graciousness to your formula.

Suffice to say, I went searching for Cindy's specific online dating advice.  She has a real gift for ministering to singles, (I presume of any age, but I know she relates to my long-term, unintended single status).

Along with visiting the Veil, I asked a couple who is very dear to me, and who demonstrate wholesome, Godly values in their marriage, to look at my profile and offer suggestions.
Between Cindy and my friends, much of the advice was the same. They told me to take out some specifics about what I want in my ideal man. Not because it's irrelevant, but because perhaps the way I word something might leave a potential suitor wondering if he's that guy. Maybe he is, but based on my words, he might determine he is not, and I would lose out.

I also want to stress, that you know who you are. Remember that, when others give suggestions, and don't erase your personality. I think it's best to use such advice as a guideline, and perhaps reconsider how tightly you're clinging to certain ideas.

More on that in an upcoming post.
Just be sure to on-line date as thoughtfully as you would in real life. Everyone is in a different stage in their lives, so compassion is essential.

If you need a second opinion, there are people to help. Cindy, of course, and I'm willing too!

Good luck out there.

Check back next week for another post on this subject, looking deeper into dating later in life.

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