“Online dating has ruined men,” sighed one of my clients. “The swiping culture has made us all treat each other like commodities and we don’t know how a normal relationship is supposed to develop any more.”
I’d been helping her to avoid guys that started off super-keen and got scared off too easily. She was a quick learner of the numerous unwritten rules of online dating: don’t act too keen, hold back, don’t talk about your past relationships, keep it interesting, don’t go to bed too soon, have deep and meaningful conversations, go on a variety of interesting dates. Dating is like a work of art, and I love the creativity of helping my clients build the perfect trajectory. But did it used to be like that, when we met people naturally — what I call organic dating? And is there a way we can improve the norms of online dating to make it more organic?
In the good old days, we met people through friends, at work or in bars. We treated them like fellow human beings, especially if we thought our behaviour could get back to our friends or colleagues. What if we signed up to an agreement where we promised to try our best to treat online dates like we treat our friends?
With organic dating, you often met their friends at the same time or soon after. Many people today date people who don’t have any friends or never get to meet them. We could change that. Tinder shows us Facebook connections. I matched with someone with five second connections recently — and none of those connections were friends of each other. That should be a good sign. Let’s check out their friends sooner rather than later. Seeing them interacting with their peers is a good test. And ask to check out their Facebook page.
If you met someone in real life, would you just walk away in the middle of a conversation? No: you’d at least make an excuse that you were going to get another drink or catch up with a friend you’d seen on the other side of the bar. So say goodbye when an online conversation isn’t going anywhere. And don’t “ghost”. If you don’t want another date, say so politely. If we all start doing it, we can change the unwritten norms of online dating and start a new etiquette.
Online dating makes it easy to build up a fantasy person that is just a projection of our ideals. Stop that happening early on by talking on the phone or videochat, and meeting soon without endless messaging. Then you’ll be dating a REAL person — that’s organic dating!
When people start dating, they don’t know what the rules are. They look to others to see what to do. So let’s not set the online dating virgins a bad example. They are uncorrupted and can make the best dates — as long as they’ve moved on from their last relationship.
So if you’re sick of the norms of online dating and want to date more naturally, read and up sign up to my Dating Nicely Code and look for others doing the same. Don’t be a dating sheep and copy bad dating behaviour just because you can get away with it!