True story: We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a long time—the three of us—on my first date with Ray. He and his best friend forever, Jen, chain-smoked cigarettes and shared countless inside jokes while I watched reruns of “Ridiculousness” on MTV. It was supposed to be just us. He promised dinner, a movie…the whole shebang! But somehow I wound up at Jen’s aunt’s house, helping her babysit while (unintentionally) competing with her for my date’s time and attention. Eventually, her relatives returned and we got up to bring Jen home. Then Ray asked me to give Jen the front seat because he thought she’d be more comfortable. Generously, I sacrificed my position as the shotgun ambassador of the evening, hoping to earn some cool points that I never did gain. This was an action I regretted within minutes, because the next thing I knew, Ray and Jen gave each other two “platonic” pecks on the lips before parting ways. I twisted my face and sulked in the back seat. Maybe they’re just the bestest best friends ever! I really liked his profile on “Reallyniceguys.com” so I’m not gonna sweat it! The following events the ensued consisted of a gourmet bottle of Muscle Milk, a glass of lukewarm tap water, and a bootlegged movie via his Mac Book Pro. At this point my go-with-the-flow airiness is dissipating, and I can’t remember why I write for Page31. Even more sadly, this was unfortunately just the first of many more online dating disasters to come.
At one point there were a lot of objections to online dating. The inauthentic environment that the Internet provided made it easy for some to act like a person that they are not. Meeting someone through your computer screen was also much more dangerous just a few years ago. But dawning is a new era, where social networking sites are creating innovative ways for people to track each other down and communicate easily and consistently. Online dating seems to be embraced even by the twenty-somethings who shunned it not so long ago. Don’t be afraid to date online. Here are some tips that should help you meet good guys in a safe way. And may your cesspool of dating experiences broaden widely.
Your Profile: Put up 3-5 recent pictures of yourself. Make sure a couple of them are sexy (not slutty—know the difference) and include at least one full body photo. The biggest gripe I got from men that I went out with was that many of their previous dates showed up 50 pounds heavier then when they took their profile photo. “The deceit is the turn off, not the extra weight,” one guy explained.
His Display Picture: Generally, I noticed that the men who were searching for something more serious looked into the camera and smiled genuinely. The men who wanted something less permanent, or a FWB, put up shirtless pictures, pictures with other women “friends”, and they posses a suggestive twinkle in their eyes. Beware of men who put up pictures of their babies and young children. It’s usually wrapped up in good intentions, but I think that’s one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen during this experience. It’s admirable to be a proud parent, but a dating site is not the place to display your child’s photographs. That’s ditto for you girls.
Your Bio/About Me: Refrain from writing your autobiography. Keep it simple! In 3-5 interesting and articulate sentences write about what you like, what you are interested in and maybe one of your recent or most proud accomplishments. I think that should do it. And be positive! I couldn’t believe how many Negative Nancies there were out there writing about what they don’t like, don’t want, and don’t do. You’ll get a better quality of men to choose from if you focus on positive things in your profile.
Don’t Ignore Red Flags: Red flags include and are not limited to: “Just got out of a relationship.” “Ready to move on.” “Just looking for some fun.” “I’m a hopeless romantic!” “My last girlfriend didn’t appreciate me.” “I’m saving up to move out my mom’s house.” “I’ve never done this before…but here I am!” Oooh! This one’s my favorite, “I’m too busy to meet people in person.” Huh? If he were that busy, wouldn’t it be because he meets with many people throughout the day? Scrutinize every profile you read! The real reasons why these men are single are always written there.
Virtual Verification: If you’ve seen an episode of MTV’s Catfish, then you know that many people actually begin relationships with a person that they’ve never met in person. That’s why I’m convinced that voice verification simply isn’t good enough. The most efficient way to know that the person you are dealing with is real is to video chat with them before meeting in the flesh or making any commitments. Never begin a full-fledged relationship with someone you’ve never met!
Investigate: Women are born with the unmatched gift of intuition. Your intuition can be a useful tool if you let it guide you. That being said, Google the crap out of your guy! You’d be surprised what actually comes up. Add him to one or two of your social networking sites so you can get a better sense of who he his. This is also good if you personally don’t feel comfortable video chatting right away. You will both have access to each other’s pictures, lifestyle and other friendships. Investigate him but please, do not stalk him or Like, Retweet, Repost, or Reply to every picture or status update! “Stay thirsty, my friends!”
The first meeting: This should be a quick, casual encounter in a public location and not a full-blown date! I got stuck on a romantic dinner date with someone I met for the first time, and while he was deciding what features our hypothetical children would inherit, I was wondering if I could make it home in time to catch the repeat episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. A brief walk through the park at daytime would be ideal, coffee and ice cream would be good too. But don’t do too much too soon because realistically he could have pretended to be something that he wasn’t online.
Tell someone where you are: Whether it’s your mother, sister, best friend, or uncle, let someone know when and where you are meeting this person. I am so precocious that I will text his name and number, email his picture, share his Facebook account and dating account to someone I trust. I’ve also take pictures of license plates and texted them to my sister just because I can never be too safe. Hmp!
A woman of mystery: Don’t reveal too much about yourself right away. Don’t share your last name, your address, your mother’s maiden name, your specific job location, and when and where you are hanging out with your girlfriends tonight. Stalkers come in all forms and bottom line is, you don’t know who is who. And remember, there’s virtue in being mysterious.
-Written by Tahisha Chery