Friday, February 17, 2012

Searching for dates? Get away from technology sometimes!

In over 6 years of coaching singles for more dating success, one thing has become glaringly clear to me: fewer people are willing to venture out to singles events, Meetup groups, and hobby activities in search of dates. They'd much rather focus most of their attention on using technology--whether it be online dating sites, Facebook, or texting--to connect with new people. Don't get me wrong--these can be great tools to find dates and stay in touch with folks. But, I find it troubling that these seem to have replaced in-person interaction. Here's why:

There's no substitute for face-to-face contact when it comes to learning about a new person. You can discover FAR more about someone by observing their nonverbal communication (facial expressions, tone of voice, and other body language) than you can from the words they say. Even the way your "date" treats the server in the coffee shop or restaurant where you have your first meeting can tell you a LOT more about his/her character and personality than an online dating profile ever could. Let's face it: some people are good at saying nice things in an email/text or on the phone (what they think the opposite sex wants to hear) but can't back that up with actions (ie, they don't "walk their talk") or they aren't really who they pretend to be.

And then there's the fact that you'll never know if you have physical chemistry with someone until you meet him/her in person. I found this out the hard way after a whirlwind weekend of emails and 4-hour phone calls with an online prospect who lived 3 hours from me. The banter and conversation was so stimulating and entertaining, I just had to meet him...and drove a long way to do so...only to find out the minute I saw him that there was absolutely no chemistry. He looked exactly like his online photo, but I just didn't feel the "spark"--even after spending a couple hours with him that day. You're either attracted or you're not.

Getting out of the house and mingling has another advantage too: nobody will know your age, so they can't pigeon-hole you based on that. I can't tell you how many of my Baby Boomer female clients are afraid to list their real age on their online profile because they assume men always seek younger women, so their profile will never pop up in a search guys their age will do. Since this is a legitimate concern, I advise them to get "out there" and be their fun, friendly self (since most of them look younger than they are anyways). Once somebody gets a taste of your personality and sense of humor and is compatible with you in terms of interests/hobbies and physical attraction, they're far less likely to worry about your age.

Maybe that's why a new online dating venue called "How About We...?" launched recently. It allows people to post a fun date idea and see who responds...thus cutting through the time it would have taken to email and phone call and getting right to the in-person meeting, to see if you have fun together and a physical attraction. I'll be curious to see how new users like this site and how many couples result from it.

In my opinion, it's sad that technology and "cyberdating" have created walls that sometimes reduce the time we spend in actual human interaction and connection. Sure, they have their place, but in the world of dating, they seem to me a detriment to getting a sense of the actual person you're considering spending time with.

How about you? Are you willing to mix it up and go out at least 2 or 3 times a month to meet people in spend as much time experiencing face-to-face connections as you are "virtual" connections? If you are, you'll maximize your chances of meeting more people and of forming deeper relationships. What do you think?