"I've been dating over the internet for a while. I would like to meet someone who suits me, and therefore want to give a good idea of who I am. But how should I approach someone for a first date, or for a cup of coffee? Because it seems people expect something in that."
This question goes a little deeper than just discussing the practicalities of an online profile. Here's someone looking for a way not to hurt the other, to do it right. That in itself is beautiful, but also a bit complex. Because you are never responsible for other people's expectations.
Not hurting is staying home
If you date, and you do it sincerely and with the intention of meeting others, you may still be hurting someone else. Simply because you open up to a match and that match sometimes does not come from both sides. So you have to put an end to the dating. That can be hurtful to someone else, without your meaning. In fact, it would be more hurtful to continue dating when you are no longer interested. If you don't want to hurt another at all costs, stay home, it's that simple. If you don't want to turn anyone down, don't accept a date or ask anyone out.
The great thing is: someone else can also grow from rejection. If you reject in the right way, and with the right reasons, it should not cause permanent damage. If you do not reject the person, but from your own feelings or lack thereof, you keep it to yourself. Then the other may find that difficult, but it is not harmful.
There is a way to reject well. And in the long run, the rejected one will find someone else he or she is happier with than you - believe it or not.
No emergency phone
How do you do that online? Not so. You can only really get to know someone in real life. And only then can you reject someone or ask you to continue on an adventure in life. Online dating sites are just meeting places to meet up for real life. Don't use someone you've never met as an emergency phone. Do not email, chat or call for months, but arrange to meet someone. That you can shake someone's hand and look someone in the eye. Real contact can never be replaced by online contact. That goes for friendships and it goes for relationships.
Means of transport from A to B
A meeting says more than a hundred e-mails and means that the whole process does not have to take you much time. If it clicks, you meet again. If it does not click immediately, but nothing went wrong, then you also meet again. Do you not feel comfortable or safe? Then you cut off the contact. That's why you should always meet someone in public first to ensure your safety. And that is why it is important that you have a number of people around you who think, watch, pray and empathise with you when it comes to dating. People who know where you are when you meet someone you don't know yet. People who can encourage and support you where necessary. Online dating is therefore not an end in itself, but a way to achieve a goal. A means of transport from A (no dates) to B (interesting dates and possibly a partner). Getting from A to B is much less important than getting there, right?
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.