Surviving the Heartache of Online Dating

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by Angela Hedges

Internet dating seems simple enough. You create a profile showing off your best qualities, making yourself sound as attractive and interesting as possible. You check out other people’s profiles, trying to decide what’s true behind the hype and fluff. You chat with a few promising guys, go on a few dates, and receive heartbreaking rejections. You meet awesome men who seem interested but are never heard from again. You finally find someone special and things get serious, until you find out he’s still using the site to find other women. Suddenly it’s not so simple.

I’m not sure my self-esteem will ever recover from those early attempts at online dating. Luckily I noticed some patterns that helped me wade through the minefield of misleading profiles and dashed hopes. Here a few tips that saved me from serial heartache:

  • Blocking the Pass – Before I joined a dating site a friend warned me, “Be prepared to meet a lot of creepy losers.” No matter what you post about age range, drug habits or any other quality you are NOT looking for, old men and creepy perverts will contact you. I received some very passionate messages explaining why older gentlemen make the best lovers. There are also guys who clearly get a kick from being as sexually explicit as possible. Don’t feel you need to respond to every come-on you get. And if the service you’re using has a block feature, use it!
  • On the Down Low – No photo? He’s probably married. If he offers to send you a picture but won’t post it publicly he is hiding something, most likely that he is cheating. Forget the idea that you shouldn’t judge based on appearance. If he won’t post even a single picture on his profile, keep searching.
  • Disappearing Act– I can’t count the number of incredible first dates that were followed up by absolutely nothing. I was crushed, wondering why my dates never wanted to see me again. Eventually I learned that dating sites aren’t much different from bars: They are filled with guys looking to get laid. One group of guys I talked to admitted their goal was to have sex on the first date. It was a pure numbers game. If a girl didn’t put out, they moved on. Of course not all guys are that sleazy. The fact is most dates won’t lead to anything more, and it’s easier to blow someone off than to send a “Sorry, there wasn’t a connection” message. They just move on to the next date and leave you guessing. It’s hard to not take it personally, but a thick skin is required if you’re going to keep at it.
  • Make It All About Him – After six months of meeting the wrong kind of guy, I was ready to give up. I was tired of the rejections, tired of rejecting people. Clearly this wasn’t for me. I had written my profile to sound as attractive and exciting as possible so I didn’t scare anyone off, and while I got plenty of responses it wasn’t helping me find Mr. Right. Then it hit me. Maybe I should be scaring off everyone except the kind of guy I was looking for. I re-wrote my profile to be all about what I was looking for in a guy, someone smart and nerdy and kind who wanted a long-term relationship. I included only a little bit about myself. The very next guy I met was smart and nerdy and kind and became my husband.
  • Be Yourself, Love Yourself – Most women turn to online dating hoping for something serious, for love. Yet in an effort to get more responses they downplay romance and avoid any mention of commitment. What they find is men who are trying to pick up as many women as possible. I wasted so much time and energy being rejected before I learned be true to myself and be clear about what I was after. Not everyone will find true love online, but good men are out there. It’s not a numbers game. It’s the search for something just right. So be brave, be honest, ask for what you deserve and don’t settle for anything less.

Angela Hedges put aside a career in social media to pursue her passions: family and writing. As a mother she is inspired to explore the struggles and joys found in the ever-changing landscape of modern parenting. Her blog With Fail chronicles her journey as a writer. Angela also dead-blogs about the remarkable life of her grandmother on the aptly-named My Dead Grandmother.