By Kimberly Dawn Neumann
You sit down at your computer, open up your online dating profile, get ready to dive in and suddenly you find yourself yawning…apathy alert! You realize you don’t care, close the computer, grab a snack and flip on some quality reality TV, like The Bachelor Pad. While it’s true that curling up with a bag of Cheetos and watching other people make out can actually sound quite appealing, in the reality dating show starring you, this behavior is not going to put you any closer to real-life romance. You’ve come down with a case of the Internet dating doldrums (IDD)!
Whether it stems from the fact that you’ve been online dating for months and haven’t found the right match yet, or that you’re possibly overworked and the thought of adding one more scheduled e-chat session or happy hour date to your busy schedule feels overwhelming, online dating boredom can happen to even the most diligent of daters. So, what can you do when cyber-ennui hits? Keep reading to reinvigorate your waning romantic resolve.
IDD Fix #1: Go on an “online dating diet”
Okay, this may sound counterintuitive to advocate taking a break from looking for potential dates, but if you’ve got a bad case of IDD, it might be time to shed some cyber-weight. We’re not suggesting that you “unsubscribe” — we’re just saying you should step away from your profile for a bit and give your shoulders a break from the weighty pressure you’re associating with the whole experience. “Go out, have fun, read a book, get a massage… do anything but think about online dating,” suggests Cherie Burbach, an expert at defeating online dating boredom (Burbach went on over 60 coffee dates in six months before meeting her husband) and the author of Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza.
“When you go back to it, your attitude and approach will be renewed and you’ll have much more success…a happy and content person attracts more dates.” By sticking to an online dating diet for a week or two — i.e., no searching, no replying to emails, and if you can stand it, not even logging into your account — when you finally do log back on, you’ll be super-excited to see who has winked at you, all the new members who have signed up and you may even realize you’ve missed the thrill of it all.
IDD Fix #2: Rethink your dating objectives
If you’re putting too much stress on yourself by thinking that you have to find Mr. or Ms. Right-This-Second and then feeling despair when you don’t, well, your cyber-dating experience is probably starting to feel like cyber-torture. It’s time to mentally reframe the whole process! “The object of putting up an online dating profile is simply to try and meet someone you might want to date,” says Burbach. “Don’t think, ‘I want to find a lifelong mate.’ Instead, try thinking: ‘I want to find someone to meet for coffee.’” By relieving the self-imposed pressure of finding a spouse (and nothing less), you’ll free yourself up to meet all kinds of interesting people just for coffee and conversation rather than “happily ever after” (though that could be a nice payoff in the end…you never know!).
IDD Fix #3: Email your second-string matches
You know those profiles that you added to your “Favorites” list just so you could find them again because you think you could maybe, possibly be interested — but you just aren’t sure? Stop hemming and hawing about those “maybes” and shoot those people an email already! “You might have a great profile that conveys your personality, but not everyone else in the system will,” says Burbach. “Your online matches might not be putting their best foot forward, but if you email them and meet someone for coffee, your opinion could change.”
In other words, if you’re only communicating with the few people online that you think look like your perfect match in theory, you could be missing out on meeting your “real” match (someone who doesn’t know how to write a great profile, but is actually fantastic in person). Stepping outside your comfort zone is a great way to squash your IDD, because even if this “maybe” really isn’t a match, at least you’ve been more proactive!
IDD Fix #4: Mix up where you choose to meet up
It’s easy to get in a dating rut, right? Of course it’s convenient for you to meet your online dating prospect du jour at the same coffee house you ALWAYS go to (the staff may even know your usual order and be following along in your dating progress). But where is the excitement in that? It’s little wonder you have IDD if your routine has fallen into “same venue, different online date and day/meeting time.” Take this opportunity to branch out into unknown venues.
If you make your online dating experience not only about meeting new people, but also about trying out places that you’ve never been before…well, hello fun! Even if the guy or gal doesn’t share a spark with you, it won’t be a total waste of time because you’ll also have explored a new date locale. “Changing your regular meeting place adds interest and decreases boredom while you’re waiting for your date to arrive,” explains Burbach.
IDD Fix #5: Search outside your comfort zone
Okay, so you’ve reached a point in your life where you know exactly what you want in a partner... we get it. But what happens if you change that criteria just a wee little bit when you’re setting up your next search? We’re not suggesting you make an extreme switch — you don’t have to go from searching for quiet, bookish types to Harley fanatics. Review your list of “must-haves” again: couldn’t you loosen up a parameter or two? For example, try increasing or decreasing the height range you’re seeking by an inch, add a couple of years to the age range you’ve selected, or perhaps expand your search area from a five-mile radius to 100 miles. You never know who might pop up with the slightest “I’m seeking” tweaking to your saved searches.
If the same matches keep coming up over and over again because you’re not thinking outside the box at all, it’s a sure recipe for IDD. With a little creative searching outside your typical comfort zone, you may open up a whole new world of prospects you didn’t previously have on your radar. “Dating means being brave and allowing yourself to experience new things,” says Burbach. “It takes courage to meet new people, so for every person who doesn’t work out, think of it in terms of climbing one large mountain…each date who’s not a good match means you’re one step closer to finding the one that’s definitely right for you.”
And when you finally find The One — well, there is nothing boring about that!
Kimberly Dawn Neumann (www.KDNeumann.com) is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Maxim and more. A frequent online contributor for Match.com’s Happen magazine, she’s also the author of The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First as well as the founder of www.DatingDivaDaily.com.