So many people are meeting through online dating these days. It is a great, sometimes easier way to find each other with less intimidating first introductions and more opportunity to get comfortable as you take steps toward creating a bond. But there is a lot of navigation that needs to go on in order to progress from that immediate (but not yet very personal) connection to taking the relationship into the real world. In my experience working with couples, there are three common, essential “dos” to pay attention to if you want your online relationship to make it offline, too.
Jump back online so you can carry on your search in picking a partner with potential!
Keep it real.
It is easy to feel close to someone when you communicate with them regularly through texts or emails, offering tidbits of your lives, censoring what you’re sharing. It is important, however, to not fall into what I call “Creature Comfort Contact,” where you feel like you are already in a relationship with that person because you’re touching base at the end of each day or week. The real connection comes in making plans to actually meet and spend time together. I have seen a lot of patients keep the relationship online for months, lingering with messages and texts but never taking it into real time. If you meet someone this way, it is fine to give yourself a little while to get to know each other and become comfortable. But unless there are circumstances you can’t control, such as travel or an illness in the family, a two to three week block should be all you allow before taking the next step.
Keep the flirty at bay.
Along the same lines, make sure your focus is not simply on making each other feel good with lots of flirting and sexy repartee. Lots of times online connections feel so powerful because they are driven by desire, loaded with a strong dose of sexual energy, and about making one another feel hot and excited. It also feels safer to flirt behind the mask of a purely digital interaction. The risk, though, is if this defines your interaction, it can perpetuate itself and continue to be all you share. So instead of letting that happen, think of flirting as a beginning point of attraction from which to grow, not as a destination where all you are looking to do is maintain a feel-good, sexy relationship.
If you have been dating someone you met online but have decided it is not working with each other, get on with it. Given how easy it is to look in and see what people are up to, curiosity can pull you backward and keep you hanging on. If you said good-bye to someone, whether you wanted to or not, now is the time to look forward to a new person whom you would like to get to know instead of spending your time checking out your almost-ex on POF or Twitter. If you continue to track who you were pining over before, you are going to use energy that can be better invested in checking out someone new who might end up being the real deal.
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