Dating in the Digital Age

by | May 20, 2014

I have a friend who protested she didn’t like the “small talk” required in early dating, and wanted to go straight to a relationship. You can go online, research your prospective date and learn everything you need to know about him, right? Wrong. This is one process that you can’t cut short. Period. It takes time to get to know someone, and while texting, “friending” and “liking” online may give you insight, there is no substitute for face-to-face.

Be Authentic

So first, understand that to date successfully your self-esteem must be intact. If you don’t like yourself, how do you expect someone else to like you? If you are so insecure that you alter yourself to please your date, then your date will not find out who the real you is until it’s too late. Back in ancient days, teen magazines used to dish endless advice about changing your own interests to match his. Learn the rules of football. Try to like beer. It was all about pushing yourself into a pretzel to please him. This is simply not good for your own sense of self-worth, and not good for an authentic relationship.

This doesn’t mean you should abandon any sense of compromise or interest in another’s pursuits. But it does mean you need to be your genuine self and not be worried about what your date will think. After all, if he doesn’t like your genuine self, then it’s time to move on. You will not have wasted a lot of time presenting a faux image of yourself only to find, when your real self comes forward, that you were not made for each other.

Don’t Accept Less

Yes, the old standard of men asking women out is passé, but don’t let this devolve into hanging out or hooking up. You deserve better. It doesn’t mean he has to spend a fortune on a fancy meal. But it does mean you should plan to do something together that you both enjoy. Share an experience. Go to the art museum. Hike in the mountains. Just don’t accept less than an actual date. If he can’t live up to your standards while dating, it will only deteriorate later on in your relationship.

Or maybe there won’t be a relationship. Dating is an exploration to see if there’s a possibility of a relationship. If, on your first date, you’ve already imagined the wedding and how he’ll look in a tux, you’ve just torpedoed the dating process. It doesn’t matter how loud your biological clock is ticking. Put it away for now. You can’t depend on having good judgment when you’re driven to get married.

Show Restraint

Maybe this is not your strong suit, but now is the time to slow down. Calm down. Take it easy. Getting to know someone takes time and effort. Do not rush the relationship. If it continues, you will meet his friends, see his apartment, get to know his family. All in due time.

Likewise with sex. Make it an event to look forward to, not something that’s automatic and inevitable. Back in the heyday of hippies and the advent of the Pill, women sometimes felt they were obligated to have sex without much preamble. But it wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. Sex should be a joyous occasion for both of you. Get to know each other physically, but only when the time is right.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here:




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