Online Dating Disasters! Recovery and Moving on…

The world is changing rapidly…and technology has changed the face of society.  Freedom and accessibility is changing the dating scene, with at times some negative consequences.

We now live in an age where it is easier to find a lover than it is a green grocer.  An age where online you can be put in touch with a person for 'fun and frolics'  at the click of a mouse. This is no longer the territory of the 'Playboy or girl', and no longer the risk taking activity of hanging around street corners or reading ads in phone boxes.  It is a 'Boom time' for hooking up for casual fun/pleasure.  And this boom has effected the dating scene. It is almost as if people have lost self respect and devalued themselves.  Sex should be fun and rewarding, however, I am seeing it become a hobby for some and  an addictive pastime for others.  Where does the  online dating scene sit with regard to this new freedom.

I am seeing more and more people becoming hurt, disappointed and resentful after experiencing internet dating disasters.  Some people have been made unwell by their experience.

So it is time to look at the other side of this dating game and look at what you can do when it goes wrong?
 So you took the plunge…  

Now  you are confused, hurt, disappointed…and more. 

Let's take a look at online dating from a new perspective.

The adverts look wonderful… love, fun, romance and  the chance of future happiness just a mouse click away. So how about the other side of the story regarding this fast growing dating medium.

More sex and less love

Sex quite often takes place these days on the first date.  There has been numerous articles written that have made it clear that both men and women are thinking nothing of having sex  on a first date knowing very little if anything about their date. If this sounds like you?... then be sure it is what you want, and for the right reasons. It is not risk free. For those of you that did not have this in mind…you need to beware that it is happening, and be sure whoever you chat with holds the same views as you do.

The downside of  the dating site boom

  • Sex has been able to become a recreation activity
  • There is now through dating sites a vast hyper-market for love/sex
  • Minimum commitment and maximum pleasure
  • There appears to be a degree of deceit going on, sadly
  • Some people are getting hurt, and becoming cynical
  • Members are becoming cold and detached after bad experiences, and this impacts on their behaviour going forward when relating to others

Trying again

So you have had a dating disaster but you wish to go back to this way of meeting people. here are a few key points worth considering before choosing to find love via a dating site. Unfortunately, these points are  often discovered the hard way. So do not take chances…be savvy!

  • It is not for the faint hearted
  • You need to be 'emotionally healthy'
  • You need to choose a site that suits your expectations and personality *
  • It helps to be realistic about the process
  • It will only be  as safe as you allow it to be
  • People are not always what they seem 
  • They do not always want what they allude to wanting
  • Although it can appear flattering to have a lot of interest in your profile, it can also be disheartening to have little interest
  • People can be emotionally damaged or in turmoil due to past (or present relationship difficulties) and find relating difficult
  • Physical attraction and compliments in abundance, do not mean you are a long term prospect for the other person
  • Some people use this medium for multiple flings, as  stop gap for lonely moments, to make an ex- jealous, to find financial support, or to conduct a relationship away from home
  • Not every relationship or dating experience leads to love 
  • Some people are very genuine, and some are not…so try to learn how to have chance of spotting the not so OK people

It is so important to hold these points in you mind and do not trust in everything you are told or are shown  immediately. At the same time, do not mistrust everything from the very start. As you can see, it is not always easy to find the balance.

"Handsome is as handsome does"

My grandmother gave me a piece of advice that has turned out to be one of the most useful things I have learnt in life.

She pointed out that it is the actions of a person where the value lies. "How do they treat you, and treat others, she would say.  Do not be fooled by words alone."

Because of the nature of meeting and the speed of information gathering, it is possible to feel  that you have become closer to someone than you actually are.  Do not let your guard down yet. Do you really know them? 

Check out these links
Tips for making the process as safe and healthy as possible

Move slowly:  Follow the guidelines on this site and explain to your  date why you intend to move slowly and why you want to meet in a public place etc.  Do not be made to feel freaky, or accept that you are an odd man/woman if you don't want to sleep with them on a first date, no matter how stunning she/he is. Just remind yourself that you do not know how many dates they have had, and if they are leaping into bed on each first date, ask yourself how much you would enjoy a trip to the sexual health clinic a few weeks or months down the road? I am guessing not much.  Stay safe! 

Do not hand out money. However sad or extreme the situation seams, do not be tempted to hand over cash…even as a loan. This is difficult when you have fallen in love and you think the other person feels the same. If you absolutely feel you must help out, then do make sure you thoroughly check out that all you believe about the person and situation is true.

A fling or looking for commitment? It is important to read the profile and not just look at the picture.  What are they looking for? Does it match with your ideal? Then check out what their hopes are:fun or commitment. Don't miss clues like 'I am a nightmare to date.  I get bored easily. It will take an amazing person to pin me down'.

We have all heard of 'love at first sight' but realistically how often does this happen that you meet that person that makes you go WOW!  The conversation flows, the interest and core beliefs are the same… the one that you can't stop from running around your head, days after the first date.  Well, that just does not happen often.  So why jump into bed with someone when none of the above exists? So be sure you are realistic about the outcome, if you rush into things.

Are they 'still active' on a dating site when they have declared they wish to be in a relationship with you?  It used to be easy to see this on some sites, and it would tell you when they were last active and some would tell you if a person had viewed your profile.  Nowadays if you wish to pay more, you can go onto peoples profiles and view it without it showing up as activity. All sites are different, and it is not so cut and dry as to who is doing what.   My advice is to ask them at an appropriate time/stage.  If they are evasive or defensive, then stay cautious for a while. 

Sex talk is a natural progression in a relationship for some, but is it in keeping with the stage of the relationship.  It is dominating?  Are you encouraged to get onto sexual talk when most would be asking how your day has been?  Ask yourself…does this feel comfortable? If not, say so and do not be worried about losing the date.  If they are that shallow, then best they depart early on.

Flings, fun but not relationship material. I have known clients to be asked to take part in online  explicit sex talk/webcam or sexting that amounts to not much more than being a free sex chat line.  Some folk are now expecting ( and wanting at times) to be seen to be sexually liberated and 'hot'.  Be selective, you will gain respect and you are less likely to have regrets.

Take time to 'Process information and see if it stand up to being true'. You must not assume every dating site user tells fibs, but just because they have given you a lot of info, do not assume you have a green light to love. They may tell you what they want you to hear, they wished for themselves ( projected positive ideal) or tell you what they knew would be required. The thing is…you cannot always tell,no matter how smart and savvy or worldly wise you are. Stay aware and move at the appropriate speed.

Look out for 'sticking plaster daters'. ( temporary solution for a deep unhealed wound) You might not get the truth straight away but lookout for timelines on past relationship.1, when did the last one end?  2, Who ended it?  3,How long was the relationship?  So  if the person  tells you it was a 25 year marriage and it ended a couple of months ago but they are well over it.    I would hold a big question mark over that statement in my experience

Do they let you into their world? If you have been in contact for months and you are dating and sleeping together but they do not want you to meet their friends, attend their parties or gatherings. If you cannot phone them at home or at work. Then DO get suspicious and ask what this is about.

Tips continued…
Never seen where they live? If you always go to your home and you have never been invited you their home…start to ask yourself why.    For example: the woman that said she had been single for a year, that turned out to have been still living with her husband. The reason given for not taking her new partner home, was that the heating had broken and it was cosier at her dates house. Clearly it would have had to end by summer, or the excuse would be lame!

Do their reasons stack up and make sense? If they start to tell you reasons for not doing things that are normal for most couples, then start to question if the reasons are valid. 

Ensure you are 'emotionally healthy' before you start to consider dating. In my opinion and based about client experiences, a lot of users are not in a great place when they start looking for 'love' via the internet. Now,… you would not try and run a marathon when you have just had your plaster cast  taken off your broken leg would you?  So why look for love when your heart or head is in recovery from a bad experience? Can you see where I am coming from? It is not going to go well; and if  (like many do) you sustain a second injury before the first one has healed. Well, it gets very distressing.

Some site will be aimed at hooking up for fun / sex. Some are aimed at  putting people together for a relationship.  Be sure you know the difference and  be sure of what you want.

Try to remember that people use dating site for different reasons
  • To meet as many people as possible
  • To find someone away from where they live/work
  • In search of  love or companionship
  • For sexual encounters
  • It is fast track to date and Maximises the  opportunity to meet others
  • It can be virtually be anonymous
  • For devious intent

Endings:   Should I have seen it coming?

To be truthful. Sometimes it jumps out at you, but as humans we see what we want to see. Sometimes it ends for the strangest of reasons.  We need to remember that we cannot know what is in the other person head or heart. Some people fall in and out of love/passion easily.

However, if your relationship was based on sex, was on and off, you had your suspicions, you got let down without good reason or notice, their mood was  changeable towards you…then yes, you might have been more aware of it not lasting.

Be extra cautious if:
  • If they want to know all about you but they avoid answering questions about themself or become evasive
  • If you never meet their friends
  • They are reluctant for you to meet their family
  • Your never get to see where they live

So you jumped in… and they jumped out!

''She said I was amazing and that she had waited all her life for someone like me'. She was found to be engaged to someone else, and on a break.

'He said, he wanted to share his life with someone again'. Despite being divorced, he was emotionally unavailable, and his life revolved around his ex-wife and his role as her rescuer.

How to manage an ending?
This might well depend on the stage and duration of your contact and how it ended.

  • Some people cause endings as a way opting out
  • Some cut off abruptly as a way of avoiding difficult emotions/discussions 
  • Some try to let others down slowly (so it tends to drag on)
  • Some don't give a hoot 
  • Some are blaming and excuse making
 There will always be difficult endings when one person wants out and the other does not. Most decent people will at least be happy to have a good ending and are wanting to end on a friendly note.

If they are being, unreasonable, underhand or controlling and you challenged this (even if kindly) they may well bolt.  It is easier than trying to reason the unreasonable. If it is not going to go their way, they won't waste their time…off to the next.

Sometimes people are not in a good place, and despite wanting a relationship, they cannot cope with one at that time… Hope fully they will get help to overcome there issues.

If someone is really nasty, avoid further contact.

Response to…THE END

'It happens sometimes that a person dates, and  then decides that the  other person is not right for them. It can happen at any point, for various reasons'.

  • Initial email or text/phone contact. Before a date
As disappointing as it might be, the chances are that there is more than just you in the running here.  Most users are involved in speaking to several people at once. As a date emerges they may choose to end other communication (or you hope they would, as who wants to date someone still active on a dating site). Be polite, be decent and be realistic.

  • First date or under a month of contact
I think no matter what has been said or suggested, until you actually meet it is impossible to say whether you are suited.  We tend to fashion an idea in our heads of who we want the other person to be…and this is easy to hang onto until we see the real Mccoy. Again, despite disappointment  try to be a decent person, gracious and respectful.

  • Over three months of regular contact and dates, sexual relationship
Hopefully when this degree of intimacy and sharing has taken place, you would be able to have an open honest conversation about where you find yourselves. Try to allow the other person to explain their feeling as difficult as they might be to hear, and hopefully they will respect you enough to be prepared to hear your feelings too. Remember that when using a dating site, users will have 'new blood' arriving in their inbox on a regular basis. If they have no willpower and no respect for the other person, they might end a good relationship for someone that 'appears' to be better.  This is the real down side of online dating…saturation with opportunity and lack of impulse control.

In the rare situations where both parties do want to be together but other things are influencing the future: Long distance, children, dependant parents or family, ex=partners, exes threats of harm or suicide, illness.  Then try and give each other time and understanding  to discuss the possible ways forwards or  take the issues to a relevant professional together. Counsellor, lawyer, medical professional, support agency. Good communication is essential if you are going to be able to hold down a relationship long term, so it important to be prepared to discuss your thoughts and feelings.

What lies behind the mask?

If you were hurt really really badly and the whole experience made you unwell, you lost your sense of self and you have never  before felt  high points and crushing lows in a  relationship. Then there is a  slim chance that you may have been dating someone who  does not care about others at all (1% of the population are sociopaths ) and they make a good job of making you believe they did care ALOT at the start.  

Sociopaths  can diminish a previously happy outgoing confident person into a shadow of their former self.

  • Were you once confident…now you have no confidence at all?
  • Did they isolated you from friends and family?
  • Were they amazingly attentive to start with, romantic/charismatic …then slowly  started to pull your character apart?
  • Did they criticise your looks.weight, dress sense?
  • Were they always right in their opinion about most things?
  • Were they like Jekyll and Hyde… always charming in public?
  • Did they try to control you,  your choices, the way you dress etc etc…
If you recognise any of the above, you may well have been dating one.  If so they will not care at all as to the suffering they cause. They are the only ones that matter in their world and they will shape their life to ensure this is the case. They have no empathy and do not feel guilt or remorse.

It would be advisable to seek help from a therapist to help you understand what  has happened to you, and how a sociopath operates, so that you can understand, heal and move on.

Recovery and moving on

Now there is something to be said for falling off the horse and getting straight back on.  But in this case don't do it!  Yes, it is a distraction and your ego might get a stroke from a new face in your inbox,  with new compliments, but you have forgotten one thing.  You need to be 'emotionally healthy' to date successfully.  This is one of the reasons it goes wrong so often… Sticking plaster dating. Do not take the hurt or baggage from the past experience into the next date.
  • Take time out
  • It takes time to heal, so give yourself time
  • Surround yourself with friends you trust 
  • Don't date if you are still, tearful, angry or anxious
  • Develop good self-care. Good diet, exercise, sleep are very important
  • Seek help from your G.P or a therapist if you feel  depressed in mood for longer than a month 
  • Engage in a new hobby or something for fun
  • If your confidence is shattered, work with a therapist to regain it

So why is it that some people cannot restrict themself to one person at a time to date?

There is a simple self control (temptation) explanation.
Walter Mischel at Stanford University, conducted a study with children and marshmallows. A marshmallow was put in front of a child and they were told they could eat it if they wanted too, but if they waited for a while until the adult came back, then they could have two!  The result was that the majority could not resist the immediate gratification and were tempted into eating the one infront of them. 
So is this happening at the start of internet dating? People are rushing in for immediate gratification?  

Then, when you put this along side another piece of research that was conducted by Ryan Schactt an anthropologist from Utah University called  'commitment in a relationship influenced by availability of partners'. Researched showed that men were less likely to have one night stands when the pool of women available for relationships were reduced.  it appears they did not want lose a partner when women were in short supply.   The question I have to ask is…does the fact that the internet makes available a constant supply of partners, influence our ability to invest in a committed relationship?  I think I know the answer!

If you are going to internet date again,  have awareness, stay safe and be realistic.  It is what it is… a way to meet people.  keep safe.

Please note:  the dating site providers are not at fault. It is a business and you can choose to use this facility or not.  It is not the technology that is the problem here, it is  also sadly  some of the users