Before I married, twenty-plus years ago, there were only a few ways to meet a dating partner. The internet was still brand new, with only internet companies like AOL offering dating services. We resorted to the old-fashioned way of being set up on a blind date, meeting someone at work, or do you remember seeing ads in the local newspaper (that was interesting, LOL)? Until recently, I had only met people at school or work. Oh, how times have changed since my last first date in the 1990s.
I’ve been experimenting with different dating websites and apps to see how each one work. Lots of swiping left and thinking… EWW, NO WAY to learn a few things about dating in THIS century! 😉
One of the first dating apps I started on was Bumble. In my bio, I shared that I was researching dating and dating websites for an online article. To my surprise, I actually matched many more times sharing this and men were willing to share their experiences. I found guys kind and willing to open up when the stress of actual dating had been removed. Here are the things I learned from my own experience with dating in the 21st century and tips I’ve learned from others.
5 Tips You Need to Know About Online Dating.
1.) Skip the guys who don’t seem interested in you or your life.
Sadly, I found that many men, even Christian ones, like to talk about themselves or not at all. More times than not men would answer my questions but not ask anything about my life. I’d ask a question, they’d answer, and then not follow up with a question back or they’d only respond with… “and u?” (ugh, text-speak is a huge turn-off for a writer).
Even when I shared a specific piece of information about myself, that someone might want to know more, I got nothing. Like on Mother’s Day when I shared that it was a hard day for me. He either didn’t read what I wrote or he just didn’t care. One man told me that men don’t read much of what women type in sentences; they just want bullet points. Wow! To me, this is a red flag of selfishness, showing their lack of good communication (or reading) skills, or a lack of true interest. Who wants to date that?
This seems to be the norm with only A FEW (seriously, a few!) guys in the last several years showing a genuine interest in wanting to get to know me and my heart. Most just wanted to know what they were going to get out of the deal. These one-sided conversations didn’t make me want to meet these guys even though several hinted at the idea.
The few times I explained that I was only looking for two-sided conversations, to get to know each other, they’d stop talking completely. I’m not chasing anyone and what’s the point of continuing to put in effort with someone who can’t carry a conversation or expects me to? I wondered if I was meeting another narcissist but I don’t have the time or the energy to wait around to find out. Just keep moving on!
2.) Don’t be in a hurry to meet someone you just started talking to; even if they’re pushing for it.
I believe you should have a set time frame and clear boundaries in mind BEFORE you match with someone. And don’t let anyone push you faster than you’re willing to go. I usually talk via the app for at least a week just to get to know each other. When I feel comfortable, and they ask politely (not pushy), I will take their phone number to talk via the phone and text. Each time I’ve moved away from a dating site was only when the man said, “When you feel comfortable, here is my phone number.” This shows he recognizes that women have safety concerns when meeting an unknown male online. It’s unfortunate but this is the reality of the world we live in, women have more to fear than men do.
I saw red flags when one church-going, professing Christian man stated after only two days of light messaging, “It would be easier if you called, here is my number.” He didn’t say it but I could tell he didn’t want to put in the effort of typing. Only a few sentences had been exchanged, mainly him bragging about himself. He wanted to push things along without regard for how I might feel which seemed aggressive.
When I asked this same guy another question after this, about his emotional healing, he responded with a passive-aggressive remark. He was probably upset because I was still typing instead of calling but, of course, he didn’t say. Everything after that was red flags so I was done and not going to call him. I’ve learned to trust my intuition again. I don’t waste my own time. Just delete and move on. Thank you… Next!
Another red flag is when someone pushes to meet before you’re ready. I read often that men “don’t want a pen pal” and prefer to meet in person to see if there is a connection. My preference is to talk for a few weeks to a month before meeting in person. The few guys I have met have respected that and my other dating boundaries. But if someone is not willing to understand my need for safety and respect, then this showed me that I wasn’t going to be respected in other areas as well. You really have to see these types of things for what they are, signs of how this man behaves in all areas of his life, not just in dating. A pusher is usually a boundary pusher! Stay away!
3.) You don’t want to be the pusher or pull all the weight either.
On several dating apps, I saw men who had not healed from past relationships and many were still married (a dealbreaker for me). Men were angry with their ex-wives or dealing with lots of drama. Most just wanted someone to do the healing work for them. I even had a guy, who knew I was going to write about this topic, ask me to teach him how to navigate dating after divorce. And then got upset when I told him it wasn’t my job to heal him before he started dating; which seemed to come up a lot.
At times, I felt like they were expecting way more out of me than they were willing to give. There was no initiative to own up to leading or at least being a partner on the dating journey. I heard, “Tell me how this is supposed to go,” when I wasn’t even sure myself. They wanted me to be the leader and make all of the decisions while they merely participated when they felt like it. The reason men get away with these types of childish behaviors is because women enjoy being the caretaker in a relationship. We often feel it’s our job.
I already raised three children! I’m not willing to do that again with someone else. I want an equal partner, not a project. They say, don’t date potential! Put in the effort and pull equal weight or be gone.
Men need to know where they’re going and what they need to do to better themselves before dating. (As I stated in my last blog post, women need to know when they’re ready to date or not as well.) They need to have their life in order and can take care of themselves, first! Then, they need to know how to take care of someone else. Mark Ballenger, on YouTube, does a wonderful job talking about how to know when someone is good for your heart. This is so important! If someone is not a good match as they are right now, they’re not a good match period!
4.) Liars, lie!
I’m amazed at the number of adults who lie without remorse. Men on dating apps lie about their current situation (their job or the pay, where they live, or with whom) trying to impress forgetting that the truth ALWAYS comes out. Personally, I’m not impressed with lying. I had a fifty-year-old guy tell me he rented his home when really, he lived with his mother. I should have seen the lying as a red flag but I let it slide until I saw a pattern of not telling the truth. People who lie about small things, lie about big things. It’s just what they do. And we only hurt ourselves when we look past lies and give them an excuse at the beginning of the relationship.
Telling the truth at all times should be the norm. It shows a person’s character, integrity, and willingness to be authentic from day one. Someone who has nothing to hide hides nothing; someone who doesn’t need to impress others is authentic. And when someone doesn’t want to share something personal, especially in the getting to know you phase, they need to state that boundary instead of being dishonest.
I had another guy lie about his vaping habit. When asked if he smoked he said he did not. But when he revealed he vaped pretty regularly, he became quite defensive that I felt he had lied to me. This was not only a red flag for lying but the way he tried to gaslight me to believe that vaping was not smoking and that I just hadn’t asked the right question in the first place. Yeah, I’m not interested in playing these guessing games to figure out your secrets and your lies! Avoid liars, period!
5.) Really watch how they communicate with you and others.
This is the most important thing when getting to know someone! Not only should you watch for lying and gaslighting, see how they push you and your boundaries, see if they really are interested in getting to know you, have empathy, etc, but also watch how they communicate in conversations, especially in times of conflict. Are they aggressive with service people or those who are beneath them? Do they have unresolved anger issues? Are they passive-aggressive and make snarky comments when they are upset? Or are they just passive without an ability to be assertive in stressful situations? These are important things to know about a person you are dating.
I met a guy on one dating app who seemed to enjoy putting people down. I saw it after the first date on his Facebook page. He posted condescending memes, mostly towards women. He thought it was funny and even told me it was just a joke. Soon, I was also the brunt of his jabs, including my driving and smoothie addiction. After a few short months, I knew he was clearly passive-aggressive. He just thought he was better and more knowledgeable than everyone else. And when we disagreed about something, he would tell me my perception was off which is gaslighting.
Several guys I’ve talked to over the years seem to fall in this category. And I’m not interested in trying to teach another adult how to be assertive instead of passive or passive-aggressive. Learning boundaries and how to speak assertively was my focus for many years after my toxic and dysfunctional upbringing and marriage (read about the journey to get emotionally healthy). I will not go backward in my healing. I need a healthy partner or I’d rather be alone.
Finally, the last pieces of advice that I wish I had learned sooner!
Keep first dates to a maximum of one hour long. Seriously!
Don’t get dinner and go see a movie; which has been my normal first date routine. Instead, meet for coffee, ice cream (or froyo if you’re lactose intolerant like me), or a short nature walk in a highly populated area. Tell him where you’ll meet, not somewhere new to you, so you are aware of your surroundings. And have your friends or family close by (or tracking you) for your safety. Just another way to check if he can respect your boundaries. And this won’t waste your (or his) if you don’t want to continue to see each other.
Furthermore, a mistake I’ve made is, if he doesn’t confirm your date the day before or the morning of, do not go. It may seem rude to you but it is a respectful thing to confirm. Without that confirmation, you have no idea if they will show up anyway. If he texts or calls to ask what happened, clearly state that you didn’t hear from him so you made other plans. Let him know when you are free again but don’t wait around for him. He should have his act together or he’s not the right person.
We as women need to show men from the beginning that we won’t put up with poor communication, boundary-pushing, disrespect, lack of concern for our safety, misogyny, or dysfunction. We have high standards and we won’t accept anything less than we deserve. When we all ban together to expect more than the bare minimum or even breadcrumbs, they’ll have no choice but pull the same weight and be a partner in dating instead of a bench-warmer. Right?
What have you learned about dating in the 21st century, especially after divorce? Feel free to share your tips and experiences, good or bad, so we can all learn these important lessons; there is no judgment here. And you do not need to use your real name (and no last names or emails will be posted).
God bless your healing and dating journey after divorce.