Like many people in my generation, I met my husband through online dating. However, unlike many of my friends, I preferred online dating to meeting dates in person. The men I met online were carefully selected and vetted, unlike the ones I met in bars or at parties. I felt like I worked out the perfect system for dating—but then I met M and that knowledge has been useless to me ever since.
I always felt that a significant part of dating well was being a contented single. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy to be single or that you want to be, but it means that you know how to live a fulfilling life without a partner and won’t settle for someone who doesn’t add to your happiness. Being a contented single means that you walk away from potential bad relationships to keep yourself open to the good things that are yet to come.
I spent many years single while dating around and trying to meet the right person. I don’t regret any of the dates or relationships I walked away from, because I knew that each one of them felt “off.” Something about them made me feel timid, or judged, or objectified, or put on a pedestal. Something about the conversation was too pushy, too hesitant, or just didn’t click. I trusted my gut to tell me when something was wrong or right, and things always turned out well when I listened. (Of course, I didn’t always, but that’s another story!)
Being single late into my twenties made me sometimes question myself. This was sometimes a helpful self-reflection, but more often just unproductive panic about not having a life that matched the timeline I’d mapped out for myself. To keep calm and carry on dating, here’s the philosophy I used to live by:
The Online-Dating Philosophy
If you’re an amazing, single person who just hasn’t met their “someone” yet, it stands to reason that there are others out there just like you. It’s just a matter of finding them. Online dating is a tool to help you in that search.
There are also a lot of non-amazing single people out there (or, people who are just not right for you.) You are in no way obligated to go out with any of them. The purpose of online profiles is to help you find someone who is a good fit, not just anyone. Don’t waste your time and energy.
Successful online dating is not only about meeting the right people, but also about avoiding the wrong people. (I only had two dates with online suitors that I would categorize as “bad,” and both were with men who had big red flags that I ignored.) Make sure you’re seeing what’s in front of you, and not just what you want to see.
Quality is better than quantity. It’s better to go on one good date every year than twenty bad dates every month. Every bad date you skip is another night you get to spend out with friends or enjoying your own hobbies.
Listen to your gut. If something feels off, even if you can’t identify it, trust your instincts. You want to spend the rest of your life with someone who makes you feel amazing, loved and appreciated, not with someone who leaves you feeling vaguely icky. Don’t sell yourself short!
Happily single is better than unhappily paired. Keep your life vibrant, and your standards high. A good relationship worth waiting for!