Thinking with You
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Less is more


Have you tried online dating, only to find you end up in some drawn out, complicated and emotional conversation with a man that just drags on and on, without it eventuating into an actual date, let alone a relationship?  This is very common, but if it’s happening to you, it’s your fault and you can stop it!

I’ve heard stories of girls who have been in online pseudo-relationships for years…with men they have never ever met!  Can I just say – ladies, you don’t have time to muck around.  There are a LOT of lonely, isolated men online, just looking for a kind and caring woman to hear their sob stories, tell them ‘aw, poor baby’ and be there for them whenever they happen to log on.  These are not the men you want to connect with online.  

When it comes to conversing with men on online dating (or in any context at all), less is more.  To bring it down to brass tacks, really you want a relationship in which a man pursues you and locks you down, then goes out to work to bring home the bacon, and lets you cuddle up to him and talk his ear off for the rest of your life.  That’s marriage 101 right there. 

I seriously doubt you want a relationship in which the man spends 90% of the time talking to you about himself, and then when you start to tell him anything about you he suddenly vaporises.  Or when you suggest meeting in person, he either offers you a booty call, or again, vaporises.  Don’t waste your time with these time-wasters.  And don’t blame the ‘system’ of online dating.  No one is forcing you to talk to these men.  So don’t!

Before I was married, I gave online dating a red hot go, and learnt a few valuable lessons.  Once I started making it work for me, over the course of about 6 months I ended up going on maybe 5-10 actual first dates with different men who I thought might be ok (I got offered a LOT more dates but turned them down).  I also ended up with two legitimate boyfriends (not at the same time!), but neither of them turned out to be compatible with me and both relationships ended in a mutual parting.  

So having experienced the whole thing, here are my 3 golden rules for successful online dating:

1.     Let the man initiate contact. 

The man is the hunter.  You are the prey.  This is biological and nothing can ever change that (not even feminism).  Besides, do you want a man who is a feminine little wimp who just follows you around like a puppy, looking for pats?  Ew.  Do not hunt a man!

I repeat, let the man initiate contact. 

This is crucial.  He has to be attracted to you enough to want to reach out.  If he is interested, he will reach out.   Some sites require one person to pay money in order to begin a conversation.  This should be him.  Do NOT feel bad that he has to shell out $5 to chat to you.  Don’t you realise that you’re after a man who will one day shell out a few thousand for an engagement ring? He better be able to lay down $5!

If you initiate contact, you might get a date, heck you might even get a relationship and even get the guy to marry you – but he won’t be that into you.  And you will feel it.  Forever.  And it will ruin your life.  You will end up nagging him 24/7 to spend time with you, take you out, buy you flowers, help with the laundry…it’ll be lonely and hard.  And he will most likely end up having an affair or a porn addiction – because you are not the one.  OUCH.  

2.    Limit your online presence. 

What increases your value is your level of (un)availability.  You want to be available, but not too available.  When you are online 24/7 and you respond to messages within minutes, a man will very quickly get bored with you and move on to someone else.  Even if he was attracted to you initially, as soon as there is no need to chase, he will lose interest.  Men are hunters.  Give them something to hunt! 

I suggest you log on once a day at the most.  Think of online dating like a community noticeboard or post office.  You go there to check things out and to do your transactions, then you leave.  You don’t stay there for hours chatting to all and sundry.  Get online, answer your messages, and get off.  Do not initiate contact.  Do not send a second message to a guy who hasn’t yet responded.  Do not answer any message within the first 24 hours of it being sent.  And try not to have your messages sent and therefore tagged at awkward times, like 1am.  It’s not healthy to be online at 1am. 

If he is online at the same time as you, at a reasonable hour, you can engage in some chat, but follow the rule below.  (Tricky!)  Best to leave the chatting to a face-to-face situation.  And if you’re in a rush, you will end up saying things you haven’t thought through.  Eek!

Online dating is more like sending notes back and forth in class.  They don’t include much info – they’re more like, ‘Bike sheds, 1pm!  Be there!’  This is what you want your online dating messages to be like – moving towards a face-to-face. 

3.    Engage in a maximum of 3 interactions with a man, then bail. 

Did I really just say that?  Yes.  ‘But I haven’t had time to tell him about my life-changing moment in Grade 9 and how my parents’ divorce changed my view of God and how I was thinking of becoming a chef but then I decided to be a PT…’ Yes.  3 CHATS THEN BAIL. 

Why do I say such harsh and surely unrealistic things like this?  Let me tell you.  As soon as a man sees your picture, he decides whether or not he’s keen.  Then he contacts you to see if you are crazy or normal.  (That’s all he really cares about.  He’s not really that interested in your job, your dreams, your family, your hobbies, or even where you live.) 

In a face-to-face chat, it takes less than one second for someone to make an assessment of you.  Data here.  And when it comes to communicating online, it doesn’t take much longer.  And while he is assessing you, you are of course assessing him. You have to realise that it’s not really content that is the main point of interest – it’s tone.  It should be fairly irrelevant to you whether he is an accountant or a teacher.  What matters is his character, his availability, and his level of interest in you. 

After exchanging a few sentences, you can tell whether the man is respectful, kind, competent, mature, experienced, egocentric, fearful, cynical, lazy, still married (!) or just a downright tosser.  You can also tell from his writing style whether he is sophisticated and educated, chivalrous or rude, blue or white collar, rough and bogan, and/or ESL.  Some of these things will make a difference to your feelings about him, I’m sure.  (And that’s ok.) 

Don’t worry about what he is thinking about you.  This is his chance to engage you. So just be yourself – but only show him about 5% of yourself!  Keep it simple – LESS IS MORE.  Maintain a bit of mystery.  Definitely say less than him.  Answer his questions (not in detail), but don’t pepper him with questions. 

When to bail:  after you’ve had three solid interactions (not including his ‘Hi, I’d love to chat with you’ etc.), and you can sense that the conversation is going to keep going indefinitely with no date in sight, say something breezy like: ‘I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you, Marcus.  I might log off for awhile now and get back to my pottery/studies/yoga/etc. :-)’  This is an age-old dating rule called ‘end the conversation first.’  It also applies to real conversations at church, work, in bars, or at the gym.  (And it actually works.)

Then, if he is into you, he will freak out a bit and quickly ask you on a date, which is your goal.  Eg. ‘Hey Kristy, I don’t want to stop chatting. :-(  Maybe we can meet in person sometime soon?’   To which you can respond (after 24 hours) ‘Sure Marcus, that could be fun. :-)’  Then he should respond and set up a time and date.  (Don’t give him a list of every single availability you have, and a Google doc link to a variety of your favourite restaurants, with vouchers. Please, just don’t.) If he is not into you, he will either not respond at all, or be really mean about it, or give you another long sob story. You don’t have to respond to these.

The point is, you have to let him do the work.  Guys these days have become super lazy and have certainly lost some of their dating skills, because girls are throwing themselves at them and metaphorically letting them sit on the couch and eat pizza while they are running around doing their work for them.  This has to change! 

Eventually a guy’s inner biological drive will rise up, he will dust off his skills, and ask you out properly.  All guys know that this is what is supposed to happen.  But guys are lazy – they’ll only do what needs to be done.  So don’t do it for them.  If he is keen, he will do it for you.  See what super famous quirky psychologist Dr Laura has to say about it: Dating roles haven't changed

 Try these tips and see if you get more success in weeding out the duds and getting real dates with decent guys, more often and more quickly!  You can do it! Xo