The trend of virtual dating is on the rise.
It’s everywhere and it seems like everyone is doing it. And while there are some legitimate concerns about dating apps, such as people misrepresenting themselves, using the apps to cheat on partners, or sometimes even misusing the platform entirely, there are also some very big upsides to virtual dating.
For instance, people who have social anxiety or related conditions can find dating to be the most difficult of all social situations.
After all, when do any of us feel more personally vulnerable than when what we are presenting for another’s approval is nothing less than ourselves?
Anxiety is often activated by feeling a lack of control. In real life social situations that involve other people, it is hard for an anxious person to feel in control when there are so many variables at work. In the online dating world, the ability to rehearse, rewrite, and even run a particular message by a trusted friend before hitting send can help an anxious person to feel they have some measure of control. Also interacting with someone online where you can choose to pause before responding, or even stop responding all together at any point, allows for a better sense control than meeting a stranger in a common space where rejection might be not just personal, but public.
In the controlled environment of an online dating app, you can even broach the subject of anxiety and let the potential date gently know that you have a hard time in busy, noisy restaurants and loud bars or clubs and would rather meet in a quiet, coffee shop to continue an online conversation. If the potential date has a problem with this, they probably aren’t the right match and it’s better to find something like that out sooner than later. However, it is also possible to learn that your potential match shares some of your fears and will be only too happy to take things at the pace, and in the place, you choose.
If you think virtual dating might be right for you, start by getting yourself in a happy mood.
Put on your favorite music, a favorite outfit too, and think about the things that bring you joy. Then sit down and write out a list of what are looking for in a potential partner. You can start with the obvious things like an age range, career, and physical attributes, but then think about the subtler things too. Maybe you’d really like to meet someone who shares your love of gardening or musical theater. The point isn’t to get too tied to your list. Stay open to the happy surprises that come along with meeting new people. But having the list as a starting point helps.
Then think about yourself. Make another list of the things your best friends and loved ones appreciate most about you. Now you’re ready to create your profile and start filtering for the kinds of people you want to meet. Think of it as an adventure and don’t be too tied to the outcome at first. Enjoy the process. Give yourself room to explore and learn.
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