There are many people out there in the world who are smart, interesting, put-together, single and available for a relationship. They know what they want and need in a relationship and have confidence and self-awareness. And yet they are single. Maybe you are one of these people. Their friends can’t figure out why. Heck, they can’t figure out why. What’s getting in the way? All the lights are green but traffic is at a standstill. Often, they simply don’t know how to start. They are unsure of the options, or if they do know what their options are, they feel overwhelmed. Do you feel like that? Sometimes it seems like you need an advanced degree just to know where and how to start.
It can be overwhelming in our fast-paced society that teaches us that gratification should be instant and every move we make should be goal-oriented.
Dating doesn’t work that way, folks. So let’s take a step back and see what your options are, and what their advantages and drawbacks might be. Then you can make a plan to get you to the starting line. There is more than one starting line that will get you to the finish line you want—namely, Mr. or Ms. Right.
Option #1: Online Dating
Online dating takes advantage of internet based, service-oriented companies that list and highlight personal profiles of available singles in order to help them meet other singles seeking relationships. Everyone on these sites is presumably looking for the same kinds of things. A website is simply a tool to help get things started.
Choice: In a very real sense, the sky’s the limit. There is a huge variety of dating sites available, from general dating sites to niche dating sites, those you pay for and those that are free. There is a dating website out there to suit virtually every possible requirement, limitation or interest that you may have.
Selection: Online sites have a database guaranteed to be bigger than the address book of your best friend who wants to set you up. Instead of being limited to a geographic region, you can literally peruse the singles scene in any town across the globe, should you be so inclined. Selection also means you can limit your search by conveniently imposing parameters on your preferences. If you want to limit your search to people who share a religious affiliation, political viewpoint or profession, for instance, that is possible, saving you from finding out on the fourth date about an unsuspected deal-breaker.
Convenience: You don’t have to get dressed up, be seen, make small talk. You can sit in your fuzzy slippers at your kitchen table while browsing profiles, making thumbs up or down decisions, answering emails and fielding queries until you are ready for the next step.
Scammers and hackers: Of course many couples meet online with great success and no problems, but it is never a good idea to make assumptions or be complacent. Identity theft is the fastest rising crime in the United States, and online dating sites need to be carefully vetted before you put your trust in them.
Most of the people on dating sites are as sincere and honorable as you are. However, the anonymity of online dating venues makes them very appealing to people who may be less than savory. You do not know if what someone presents is real. Inaccurate information and pictures are all too common. Again—be savvy.
With literally countless options, it takes time to sort through them all. The time commitment is significant. In fact, the average person spends 11 hours on line before meeting someone for the first time.
For more information about online dating, see my blog entitled Which On-line Dating Service is Right for You?
Option #2: Professional Matchmaking
This service quite simply matches two people with one another for the purposes of dating, pursuing love, marriage—whatever both parties desire. A professional matchmaker, using information provided by you, his or her experienced insights and gut instincts, finds people for you to meet and get to know. As with anything else, the rest is up to you.
Personal Service: You will have your very own matchmaker who works for you, and better yet, does the work for you. Based on your own criteria, your matchmaker will match you with a compatible person, or choice of compatible people. The personal touch can be very comforting and reassuring. You know there is someone out there actively pursuing a positive outcome on your behalf.
Confidentiality: No hacking, no scamming, no danger. Matchmakers are certified professionals (be sure you select one who indeed is) who behave accordingly. Your personal information is safe with them.
Advice and support: Another benefit of the personal touch is that you have someone on your side, advising, suggesting and supporting you as you seek a good match. You will have face-to-face conversations with your matchmaker about the suitability and possible compatibility of your matches, as well as supportive suggestions regarding your continued search.
Cost: The services of a matchmaker can be rather expensive. You pay for that personal service. Rates vary according to the matchmaker’s experience, success rates, and what part of the country you live in.
Possibility of a disreputable provider: Though matchmaking is an ancient and respected tradition, there are unprofessional, un- or undertrained matchmakers out there. Be sure to do your homework before selecting a matchmaker. Check that he or she has been properly trained and certified, has references available and a policy of transparency regarding business practices.
Commitment: Whereas you can log off of an online dating site whenever you want, some matchmakers require long-term, contractual obligations. Their point of view is that it takes a commitment to see the positive results. From your point of view, you simply need to decide if you can and want to make that kind of commitment.
Option #3: Traditional Dating
Remember this? It’s when you meet someone and ask for a date! It’s still alive and well as a method for finding The One.
Personal selection: Think of the world as the sea, and all the people as fish. Oh, wait. That’s been done. But let’s go with it. You are a particular fish whose favorite book is Rebecca and who values healthy living. So, you join a gothic novel reading club and start shopping at Whole Foods. No need to attend the deer hunting or macramé committees or hang out at biker bars. Your choices of venues is self-limiting and self-selecting. You get to fine-tune your particular corner of the sea so that you meet fish with similar interests.
Personal “gut” feeling: There is no substitute for up close and personal when it comes to attraction. If you are face to face with someone, you will have no trouble figuring out in a few moments if there’s chemistry. If there is, you’ll find yourself saying: “I’d like to see you again.”
Personal style: The traditional method of meeting people allows for all kinds of individuality and a personal, “hands on” approach. The rules and guidelines are yours as is how you approach every step of the process. You get to decide where you go, when you go, and who you talk to. It’s familiar; it’s you.
Discouragement: Whether you live in a big city or a rural county, the lack of readily available compatible matches can be disheartening. It does not matter how many or how few people live per square mile, the trick is to meet them. And to have them be interesting to you. And single. And looking for a relationship.
Time consuming: Meeting people the old-fashioned way requires planning and execution. What functions, events and venues do you want to attend? How many? Then actually physically getting yourself there takes dedication.
Timing: If our lives were like a romantic feel-good movie, even if we missed getting on the bus with our future mate three times in a row, we’d be guaranteed to meet eventually. But life is not necessarily like that. Being at the right place at the right time is pure chance, and unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at once.
I’ve tried to lay out the pros and cons of each method here for you with all honesty. There is clearly no right or wrong answer, and no one method that is guaranteed to work or not work for any particular person. Any one of the options listed above— combined with your commitment and enthusiasm, and maybe the support of a dating coach along the way—could be right for you.
You are on a noble path to find someone to share love with, and there is more than one track that can get you there. Figure out at which starting line you want to put your feet, and then—go for it!