Are You Hesitant to Try Online Dating?

Six common excuses for not doing it — and the real fears behind them.

Posted Mar 31, 2019

 Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Dating is often a challenge in our fast-paced culture. Work may take up the majority of our time and energy, leaving little time for socializing and much less for the trials and errors of random dating. Meeting strangers usually requires the art of small talk, which for many of us is neither a strong point nor something we particularly enjoy.  

I often have clients who tell me that they’re ready to get back out there and risk dating again, usually months or even years after a divorce or the loss of a loved spouse. Most have not been fortunate in meeting people in their daily lives who are available for dating. Many of these individuals are hesitant to try online dating, particularly my clients who are in the 40 and up age group. They have a variety of reasons for not taking the leap, although I usually sense that those explanations are not the true concerns at the heart of the issue.

Common Reasons/Excuses

“I need to lose weight and get in shape first.”

If your appearance or level of fitness is holding you back, you might use that concern as a motivation for action. It is not uncommon for individuals to get in a workout or some type of exercise prior to a date. Exercise builds confidence as well as energy levels, both of which are generally attractive qualities. Be realistic as well. Expecting perfection, either in yourself or your date, is frustrating and self-destructive, since it is an impossible goal.

“It seems unsafe to meet a stranger for a date.”

Is it less safe than meeting a complete stranger at a club? Standard first-date safety advice applies regardless of whether you met online or not: Meet at a public place, drive there in your own vehicle, let a friend know where you’ll be, don’t give out any more information than you feel safe with, etc.

“I don’t want to look or feel desperate.”

Many potential daters have limited choices in their workplace due to careers that are skewed toward one gender. There are still a number of workplaces that have either a majority male or female staff, such as the male majority in the tech field and the female majority in nursing and social work. Since most of us spend a large part of our days at work, such an environment presents some serious limitations in terms of meeting potential dates.

“Doesn’t everyone lie on those sites anyway?”

True, there is a lot of evidence of people lying about their age, weight, or wealth. It is not unusual for people to present misleading photos or bios. Maybe you fear being drawn in by a photoshopped image or a false narrative of a charming and successful person. With experience on dating sites, it does become easier to perceive the likely deceptions and to target profiles with the qualities that are important to you.

“Will s/he expect sexual intimacy before I’m ready for it?”

Often, the clues as to this expectation are evident from the online profile, or even from the dating platform itself, as some are known more for hook-ups, while others market themselves as leading to committed relationships. Also, if sex is the primary purpose, it is usually clear from comments made at the first meeting.

“Am I too old for that?”

No, never. There are a variety of dating platforms, ranging from those that offer an image, an age, and an objective to those that require lengthy questionnaires in order to find a personality match. Look for the platform that caters to the population that you’re seeking. Some sites offer more in-depth information than others, and that usually corresponds to a more mature/older population. Also, regardless of age, use good sense to keep yourself safe, such as the guidelines noted above.

The Real Fears

If you are still hesitant, ask yourself this: “What am I really afraid of?”

There are two most common actual fears which go beyond the level of excuses in my experience. First is the fear of rejection. It is real and unavoidable. Accepting this possibility is sometimes all we need do in order to cope with this fear. Even if you are one of the most likable and competent people on the planet, there are many reasons why you may not be compatible with your date. Try to see it as a mismatch rather than a sign of some flaw in yourself. For example, there might be a lack of common interests or an incompatible sense of humor. If you find yourself repeatedly rejected, then it’s time to ask, “What am I doing or not doing that is putting people off?” Think of your behavior as relevant to your dating experience rather than your character or your appearance. None of us is perfect, and maybe there are behavioral changes that are worth your efforts.

The second most common reason is the fear that “there just isn’t anyone out there who is a good match for me.” Perhaps online dating has been held off as your last resort, and you’re afraid that it will fail, leaving you feeling even more hopeless. This is a sad state of mind, and I think it is all too common. Part of the flaw in this thinking is the assumption that we all have a perfect match or a soul-mate in the world, and that we need to find that person. You might consider that there are many possible mates out there for you. Your task is to find the options among those possibilities that are worth the effort it will take to make it a joyful relationship. You may be surprised at how empowering it is to face the natural fears and take the risk anyway.