In my last post about my personal experience with online dating, I talked about not posting my photo—not making it available upfront—for all 150 of my eHarmony matches. This was not a particularly popular decision, but think about it. I was supposed to feel comfortable with posting my picture for 150 strangers from all over the world? My account settings were open, extending far and wide beyond the confines of my travels from home to gym to work to store or an occasional restaurant, to movie or star gazing, to dance or art walking, to book or music or writing, to fellowship at church with friends or occasional lovers, but ultimately, back home to self. Still, I activated my eHarmony account with the goal of meeting a man. No, scratch that. I was planning to meet several men, but I would have been happy with gaining just one male friend.
Tip #1: Know your goal before you begin the journey.
There I was with 150 matches in a virtual world with virtually endless possibilities, but not posting a photo meant instant rejection for the first few days. After I got over the sting of receiving “close” notifications from men who wanted to see my face (and no doubt my body too) before having any kind of conversation, the experience was wonderfully freeing for me. Don’t you just love feeling free to express yourself? I sure did.
I’ve often heard that eHarmony’s guided communication process takes too long and is just too involved. I didn’t see it that way. I liked the step-by-step process, which helped me shed my layers in a controlled environment. Stated this way, I could easily be talking about a laboratory experiment. Having the option to initiate conversations within the secured environment that eHarmony created was comforting to me. Their environment was my laboratory. I was conducting an experiment in the virtual world to try to get the result I wanted in my very real one. I added ingredients such as information about my goals, interests, and dreams. I left out ingredients I could do without such as my photo and references to previous relationships. It was easy to turn up the heat with probing questions and just as easy to cool things down with sharp, no nonsense answers to inappropriate or offensive responses, questions or suggestions from men. I was open, but I knew exactly where the line was when it came to my personal boundaries. I chatted with any man who wanted to talk about something of interest in the beginning. But I closed just as fast on men who displayed disrespect, immaturity, shallowness, carelessness, or rudeness. Sometimes men wrote things that were just plain dumb. I felt no obligation to entertain foolishness from men.
Tip #2: Know your standards and make your actions consistent with them.
I had a three-month subscription with eHarmony. That was all, and I had no intentions of extending it. I had to make my three months count. Very quickly, 150 matches were reduced to only about 20 or so active conversations. This was still all within the secured environment that eHarmony had created. Now here’s the funny part: less than 10 matches actually made it all the way though the guided communication phase into open communication, where they saw my photo. This all happened within the first month. I typically spent anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour communicating with the 10 in the evenings after work. I still carried on my normal daily activities. My online activities never took the place of my daily life. Instead, my online activities had an enhancing effect. I loved the experience of learning about men in different countries with backgrounds vastly different from my own. I appreciated their different perspectives.
Tip #3: Be lighthearted and enjoy the process.
Then, the 10 became two…two out of 150. What’s that? 1.33%. What’s that saying about how it only takes one? I think it’s important to keep in mind that it only takes one person to impact your life in a significant and lasting way. Are you looking for many or just one?
I’ll tell you how two became one in an upcoming post.