The minefield of online dating

I’ve commented before on how I think online dating isn’t that great of a strategy for men who aren’t conventionally handsome. I want to discuss this more from both sex’s perspective due to Donal’s recent post on Clarity is Charity.

A female reader of my blog reached out to me recently about an experience she had with online dating. She had met a Christian guy online, and they had gotten to talking about marriage back and forth for a while- a number of months. It had been going well and was getting serious- they were all set to meet, an important step since they lived far apart. Then the guy went silent. She didn’t hear from him for a month. None of her responses were answered. There had been no warning that he was going silent either.

Eventually she finally heard back from him. His message was very short, amounting to basically three lines:

  • I’m not sure my future includes marriage
  • Besides, I’m really busy right now and can’t give you any time
  • But lets try and be friends anyways

I suppose that it goes without saying that she was somewhat upset by this response. To put it mildly. Not only had he rejected her, and not only had he refused to give any real reason, he also pulled a LJBF on her. She contacted me to try and understand what was going on. She genuinely didn’t understand. To be honest, neither did I.

From my experience it has been the case that women are hard to get invested initially, but once they are interested they tend to get too invested much too quickly even without having met the man yet.

For the most part long distance is inadvisable. However, long distance relationships initiated through an online dating medium are simply not good for women due to the above qualities. I would never recommend women going for a long distance online dating relationship due to these tendencies.

Given that most men aren’t going to be reading these blogs, I think it’s best to educate men and women on things to do and avoid in online dating if you are going to use online dating as a potential medium for a relationship.

  1. I’d suggest that both men and women do whatever they want to filter a man for the first week or two on an online site. Chat. Discuss whatever topics.
  2. Then meet up after the first few weeks for a casual date so you actually get a better idea of who the man is in person. “An initial date” off of online dating should not be taken super seriously. It’s more of a get to know you.
  3. You can then take such a thing to e-mail or other electronic communication, but continue to meet up for a few more dates to see if you want to get to know each other better. If you need ideas for dates see here. If close enough attend each other’s churches or other social activities.
  4. In general, it wold behoove you to continue reaching out to other women or men during this time in case said relationship doesn’t work out. It takes two to tango after all, and it’s a waste of time (and money if it’s a paid site) to think that if you like the other person that you met that they will also like you. Your chances will increase if you can read body language though.
  5. Only after it has become explicitly exclusive would I say that you should put aside other prospects in favor of getting to know someone deeper. However, as I already mentioned to some extent there is the false notion of a “boyfriend and girlfriend committed relationship” that you should be aware of that may cause issues.

This is in general a good outline to not taking dating seriously until it actually becomes serious. If you haven’t gotten to know the person in real life to a decent-good extent then it’s useless to think you know them that well. This is where I tend to see women and some men investing too much too soon. Then after the other person doesn’t think they want a relationship someone is left confused, hurt, and a bit angry.

If, on the off chance you decide to ignore my warning about engaging in an online dating relationship, it’s important to realize that you may get to know a person decently well through online communication. However, once you meet them you may find that their suitability isn’t good for you. This is where it’s important to guard yourself from becoming invested before you actually meet the other person a couple of times. What is “perfect” on paper may not be so perfect in real life.

The most successful long distance relationships I’ve seen (and I’ve seen some.. not a huge amount but some) are when:

  • They were already an item before life, school, or a job kept them apart for a bit.
  • People met each other when one was visiting a particular place and they kept in touch.
  • They met through friends or family and not online dating. They were able to meet fairly early.

However, for every success story I’ve seen much more heartache. In two of the above cases they had already met each other before growing the relationship through Skype or online means. The other ones are from meeting through online communication but not online dating. Online dating is just a minefield.

If y’all have any experiences with online dating that they want to share or their thoughts on sequencing of events and the amount of investment that goes into it then feel free to comment.

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19 Responses to The minefield of online dating

  1. Pingback: The minefield of online dating |

  2. stickdude90 says:

    This is an area where, for better or worse, I do have some experience, having gone on many dates where we met online.

    My thoughts:

    1. This may sound cynical, but online dating is a numbers game, pure and simple. The advantage is that you can connect with a large number of people for very low investment – the time it takes to send a “Hi, my name is such-and-such. What’s yours?” message.

    2. It’s likely that a large number of people you contact will never respond (or maybe I’m just not handsome enough), and that’s ok – just move on.

    3. Distance matters – know how far you’re willing to travel for a first date, and don’t communicate with anyone beyond that boundary. DS is absolutely correct that LDRs started online are a bad idea. I personally agree with Rollo that LDRs are a bad idea in general, but that’s another topic.

    4. Don’t spend months or even weeks “getting to know” the other person before you meet them face-to-face. I view the pre-date communication as a basic “Are they crazy?” filter – which has in fact filtered out a fair number of people. Assuming they seem normal enough, ask them out sooner rather than later. I believe that for all the dates I went on I had asked them out within a day or two of starting to communicate through the site (except eHarmony, which makes you jump through ridiculous hoops before you can actually communicate with anyone)

    5. Choose something low-key for the first date. Just meeting for coffee is enough to know if there’s a basic level of attraction between the two of you (which is really all you’re trying to find out in the first date), and if there isn’t, you haven’t invested too much.

    6. Until both of you agree to date each other exclusively, you’re both free to date other people. I never advertised the fact that I was dating other people, but the one time I was asked about it I was completely honest (and to my surprise, it felt like she took my “No, I’m still dating other people” as a personal challenge to become my one-and-only).

  3. stickdude90 says:

    7. Don’t become Facebook friends too soon. If things don’t work out for whatever reason, you have to either unfriend them, or not – both of which can be awkward.

  4. hearthie says:

    I was in a LDR with DH for a couple of years when I went away to college, and it sucked. Damaged the relationship (obviously not beyond repair) and was miserable for both of us.

    You’re not going to next someone you’ve been dating for five or six years because you need to relocate, obviously… but don’t take it casually.

  5. Maea says:

    Lots of people who used online dating has had horror stories (or entertaining ones), but the fact is most of them did not end in marriage. There are plenty of blogs or comments regarding online dating sites, such as, eharmony, etc. where people discuss at length how these sites seem to attract questionable people for their marriage pool.

    Online “dating” can be a farce.

  6. av says:

    I have to agree that long distance relationships are far from ideal, but I’m currently trying to find one because it seems to be my best option.

    Where I’m at I’m not meeting any eligible women in person. The biggest limiter for me is theological compatibility. There aren’t that many conservative Presbyterians where I live and not any eligible women in my church.

    I’d like to be messaging someone close enough to meet for coffee, and I’d even drive a couple hours to do so if I had to, but basic searches on sites like christian mingle turn up nothing in the area.

  7. Maea says:

    @ av

    It’s possible a lot of eligible women aren’t utilizing online dating sites for the aforementioned reasons. It’s unfortunate because traditional Christians like yourself are going to pass through a desert before the minefield.

    (I’m assuming you are a Presbyterian who strongly disagrees with the recent “votes” on openly gay pastors, allowing “gay marriage,” etc.?)

    The same thing can probably be said for men, too.

  8. av says:


    I’m actually a member of a congregation in a different denomination — the PCA which actually believes the Bible is inerrant, doesn’t ordain women, and officially holds to male headship in marriage, albeit commonly expressed with squishy evangelical qualifications.

    I’m also using a site set up specifically for reformed singles, although with the same difficulties common to online dating, coupled with a smaller number to meet and longer distances to deal with.

  9. donalgraeme says:

    I agree with you DS that online dating is a crapshoot. At least, when doing it through an online dating site. If you have someone you know in the loop, then things get better. But even then it is only *so* much better.

  10. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    I think, that for a lot of men, online dating is the last stop before giving up. I was drawn to this corner of the internet because online dating wasn’t working. On paper, it should. I wouldn’t recommend it to men but, it can work for women.

  11. Maea says:

    I’ve read lots of commentary and articles on why online dating is even less effective than the typical secularized version of dating. Women do make it difficult for men, because it gives them an avenue to throw down with the infamous “checklist,” which 99% of men cannot fulfill. When had forums back in the day, I read a lot of people complaining about how after meeting people from eharmony, they were disappointed to discover there was no attraction. A picture can speak a thousand words, but nonverbal communication with a person says more.

  12. Maea says:

    @ av

    That sucks. Your pool appears to be even smaller. Does the PCA ever have “networking” types of events? Or connections between individual PCA churches?

  13. CHero says:

    The delightful irony about online dating: if you’re good-looking enough to be successful at online dating, you don’t even NEED online dating to begin with.

  14. @ CHero

    Yup, it already has that stigma where if you’re using it in the first place you’re probably not going to be successful.

  15. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    The delightful irony about online dating: if you’re good-looking enough to be successful at online dating, you don’t even NEED online dating to begin with.

    Unless you’re wanting to expand your range to include more women/men in your search, which can potentially increase your odds of locating the type of person you’re looking for.

  16. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Oops, I didn’t mean to italicize my whole comment- only the part that I was quoting… :-/

  17. Looking Glass says:


    I feel half of the utility of the WordPress comments system is to screw up the formatting of comments. That’s why I mostly gave up on using any formatting. Haha.

  18. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    @ Looking Glass

    I feel half of the utility of the WordPress comments system is to screw up the formatting of comments. That’s why I mostly gave up on using any formatting. Haha.

    I’m kinda what I call “technologically challenged” so I can screw it up even without the help of WordPress! LOL

  19. Looking Glass says:


    I have a great trick for fixing other people’s computers (since I’ve been doing that for years). I stand next to them and ask them to talk me through what they’re doing & what isn’t working.

    50% of the time that solves the problem. It’s always fun to fix computer problems via magic. 🙂 (Or just forcing the user to think through their process so they don’t misclick.)

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