First, know that you are not alone.
Online dating only masquerades as the simpler way to date – but that’s not always the case. The good news is that you’re not in a bar with the potential to meet 20 girls; online there are millions of girls. You can search for and meet the girl you’re always looking for in the bar – but you have to find her online first.
And you have to be willing to wade through some shit. Sometimes it’s shit like seeing “the moon” too many times as the answer to “What’s bigger, the sun or the moon?” Sometimes it’s dark, psychological, “what is the point of this” shit.
Every so often, a guy in a dark place will be feeling shitty and will email me. It goes something like this:
“I have tried several dating websites but never get anything. No dates, what few responses I get lead nowhere, or I have to do all the work and they contribute little to the conversation. I’m just so @#$$#% frustrated that I want to chuck my tablet out the window.”
“Women are only attracted to good looking men just like men are attracted to good looking women. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that personality matters to people, but it is secondary to physical appearance.”
“In real life, I get few opportunities to meet someone and my anxiety makes me socially awkward.”
“Seems women are only interested in looks and money.”
What I say to these guys, and what I want to say to you, is:
Yes. This sucks. I hear your frustration. And I agree with you: online dating IS a predominantly superficial place. Dating in general is wrought with high emotion and low logic.
That’s why it’s so critical that we:
1) Don’t let online dating be the end-all-be-all in our love lives,
2) Work on being self-confident, self-aware people who like ourselves and don’t need others to validate us, and
3) Live our lives in the real world, where we can choose to spend our time and energy with people who lift us up, doing work and enjoying hobbies that build our confidence and increase the joy in our lives, while being open to meeting the right person for us.
Attraction is emotional and primal. We can’t control how others react to us. But we can control our ability to enjoy our lives and find people we want to enjoy it with – and those are the people who do not think we are only "ugly" or only "attractive." Attractiveness is a continuum and it trends positive when WE like who we are, try to improve the stuff we don't like, and surround ourselves with people who appreciate us for having those qualities.
Sure, online dating is centered on the superficial, but it can also be a tool to help us find more of the good people we want in our lives – who want to be in our lives. It can be a fun way to meet new people.
If online dating is not fun for you, or if it makes you feel “less than” in any way, please do not spend your time there!
If you are frustrated that you are spending time on something that's not "paying off" – take a break! You’ll feel better when you invest your time and energy back into the areas of your life that make you feel good! Don't spend time online if it feels like hitting your head against a brick wall.
Sometimes the best way forward is to back off.
Give yourself permission to focus on building a life that you enjoy in the mean time.
If you are already making an effort to live your life offline and get yourself out there – joining MeetUps, making new friends, caring for old friends, pursuing your hobbies and interests, being involved in your church or local associations and community groups – keep doing these things. These are all the things that make you who you are, that make you happy even when you don't have a relationship, or when things get tough in other areas of life.
Remember that you and online dating are not monogamous.
There are other ways to meet women. Tell your friends and family that you’re interested in getting set up (according to a few key guidelines, established by you). Go to happy hours, mixers, bars, and meet-ups. Practice talking to strangers in the checkout line at the grocery store. Smile at a cute girl at a conference. You’ll find that when you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, you’re less pissed off at Match and Tinder.
If you feel anxiety or extremely uncomfortable in social situations, take a look at this. You can develop skills to cope with and improve your social experiences. Find someone you trust to talk to about this – a mentor, your pastor, a therapist, a friend – anyone who will be supportive, who will help you look at ways you can practice, grow, and overcome these challenges.
The work you do now to feel good about yourself and create a life you enjoy is what sets you up to build strong relationships with the right people that will last a lifetime.
Patience is a pain in the ass, and hard work is difficult – but I think that's the prescription.
That, and get offline when you need to!
You are an intelligent, funny, considerate person with a lot to offer. There are many people who are so thankful that you have those qualities (myself being one of them). I have no doubt you will meet someone wonderful, whether it's online or off.