With a myriad of dating apps and online sites, it’s never been easier to find love in a digital world. At the same time, it has never been so difficult to meet ‘the right one’.
“The upside of dating apps is that they give you the chance to cast the net wider and find the person that suits your values and desires. It’s also an efficient way of dating, as most of us are time poor,” says relationship expert Melissa Ferrari.
However, the Sydney-based counsellor adds that she has noticed that many singles become addicted to dating apps and sites.
“It’s almost like online shopping – it’s so accessible you can’t stop yourself! Some become so addicted to swiping left and right that it replaces trying to truly bond with someone,” she explains.
So how can you maneuver the digital love landscape? Here, Melissa Ferrari shares her top five tips for finding love in a digital world.
Don’t stay online for too long
When we start chatting to someone online, we start developing feelings for them even before we meet them face to face. It is so easy to get carried away with an image of what that person might be, and the longer you stall meeting them in real life, the more of a fantasy image you will have developed. This can set you up for disappointment as once you meet them, they might not live up to your imagined expectations and you don’t give that person a real chance. Meeting someone in real life is the best way to see if your potential love interest is a good fit and if it feels right. So don’t let online chat or back and forward text exchanges go on for weeks before you meet.
Prepare for a reality check
We’ve all heard of the term ‘catfish’ or ‘kittenfish’, which means that many online daters portray themselves in a very positive – if not, downright deceptive – light in their online profiles. Although it is understandable that we all want to put our best foot forward, you just have to have your wits about you and be aware that while it may look like reality, sometimes it can be very unreal, and you have to go into a date very prepared for that.
Don’t get carried away
Online dating is emotionally a very powerful experience. The excitement and the downs can cause the nervous system to be in a state of flux at times, which means that there is a powerful rush of neuro-chemicals and a mix of hormones going through the body. You may think you are in “love” for it then to turn sour, because you have been strung along or – even worse – been catfished. I believe with all this going on, it is important to have support; a friend who has your back or a good therapist behind you that can help ground you in the experience because you need to be able to stay aware of any “red flags”.
Centre yourself before a date
When you go on a date, all our insecurities come up and our main focus tends to be ‘Does this person like me?’ That instantly creates anxiety. This can distract you from really seeing the person in front of you and limit your capacity to read the positive (or negative) cues and signals that tell you if he or she is the right fit for you.
So try to arrive for the first date in a state of calm centeredness. Use meditation (mindfulness phone apps are useful for this), positive self-talk or have an appointment with your therapist just before a date.
Get in touch with your feelings
When you’re dating or approaching the first date, you are using the more primitive part of your brain which is more geared towards basic survival. It’s pretty much function out of our awareness or consciousness.
However, when we are trying to find a mate for life, it requires higher thinking so we can find the best match. So, it is really important to be in touch with your own feelings.
Check in with what you are feeling – ask yourself often, does this feel safe and secure? Does this love interest or date ask questions about me? Do they look at me in a way that is pleasing? Are they curious about who I am? Do I feel trust? Does how they look or smell appeal to me? Do they look comfortable in their own skin? Does this person speak about their past positively and if it’s not, have they made sense of it and has it shaped them in the relationship today?
More about Melissa Ferrari
Melissa is one of Australia’s most sought-after relationship experts and is renowned for her warmth and engaging personality. Through her private counselling sessions, seminars and couples retreat, Melissa has helped thousands of individuals and couples gain insight into their relationship problems. She has given them the tools to help them resolve ongoing conflicts and move towards developing and maintaining a loving and connected relationship.