Question: I have used CatholicMatch on and off for several years now, with no success. I think about the thousands of single lonely people using this website and wonder why are we not connecting with each other? If there are so many people searching, why are we all still single? If I were to say right now: “Any woman who would like to get to know me, please message me,” nothing would happen. Same if I sent a woman a friend request, nothing. A few might look at my profile and say, “no.” So if this is what happens in general, no wonder we are all still single.
Answer: You ask some fair questions. I think there are a number of reasons why online dating sites are not as helpful as they can be for people. I admit that I was a terrible dater before getting married. I made just about every mistake, but what I can offer is some general principles based upon what I observe and what our team observes in working with singles every single day. Here are some suggestions to make the best use of your online dating experience:
1. Right Expectations
This is a big one. I often compare online dating to a gym or a set of golf clubs because online dating is a tool to help your towards a solution—it is not a solution in it of itself. Many of the reasons singles have difficulty finding their spouse will still be an issue regardless of what “tool” they use—online dating or otherwise.
2. Finding Opportunities
Singles often make the mistake of thinking the tool is the problem or they don’t have enough opportunity. However it may be due to the fact that they are not making the most of what opportunities they have.
Let me illustrate using one of my two above analogies.
Online dating is similar to golf clubs in that the clubs are only going to perform as well as the golfer using them. Thus just because a person goes out and purchases the same exact clubs as Tiger Woods, does not mean he/she will play like him. Conversely, if Tiger Woods plays with an old rusty set from the 1950s he is still going to be able to beat 90% of the golfers in the world. His skill as a golfer is what makes him great. The clubs—while important—only make a small difference compared to his talent. You can follow this line of thinking with almost any sport, hobby or skill involving equipment. Thus no matter how good an online dating site is, the question is still: how well is the person using it? How well the person is using the site often correlates to how well they approach dating.
3. Know Yourself
Rather than wonder why someone chooses not to respond, you should be asking questions such as: How do you view yourself? How good are your interpersonal skills? How do you view the opposite sex? How much do you understand the purpose of marriage, discerning marriage, or purposefully dating for marriage?
All of these issues have little to do with how you meet a person—whether it is online, bumping in a person with your shopping cart or at a local bar. The question is how do you handle things after you actually meet them?
4. Be Persistent
Like a gym, online dating will only work as well as what you put into it. Most people treat online dating like a Ronco kitchen appliance “set it and forget it.” This is not the best way to utilize the online dating tool. Most people view it as a glorified “personals ad” when, in fact, it is actually a social activity, just online. When you create a profile of yourself, you are trying to present an accurate and engaging presentation of who you are. But many people make the mistake of putting little effort into their profile or if they do they rarely revisit it or do not update it. By regularly updating your profile it becomes less of a flat or frozen view of who you are and starts to present depth of the person over a period of time.
Let me make a real life analogy. Maybe you have you heard someone say: “When I first met him/her I was not initially interested, but after awhile I thought maybe he or she would be good to date.”
Not everyone has love at first site or even like at first site in the real world, so why would people have it online? If you saw a person at a regular gathering and he always wore the same outfit, or she always wore her hair exactly same way, or he always told the same stories, what would you think? An online profile should be utilized in the same way as you would present yourself at regular gatherings. You have to keep putting yourself out their in different and new ways. The initial profile you set up needs to be updated regularly because it only captures a small part of who you are as a person. I don’t think it is a stretch to say most people should change something about their profile at least once a month if not two or three times and new photos should be at the top of the list.
5. Communication Skills
Another important area of your online dating experience is taking advantage of the messaging system. We often see so many people get frustrated that make one or all of these mistakes:
- They copy and paste messages.
- They use a phrase similar to “Hey, I like your profile would you check out mine or would you like to chat?”
- They share way too much information up front about things that are not appropriate for talking to a complete stranger for the first time.
- They say something that expresses their level of frustration with being single
- They say something that identifies their insecurities or dower attitude about dating
Although you are typing messages, you have to think: how would I introduce myself to this person if I met her/him in real life rather than online? An even more important question is: Would I even introduce myself to this person if I had to do it offline, rather than on an online dating site?
Dating is hard, no question, but I also see so many singles set themselves up for disappointment. While each person is different—and each has different issues when it comes to dating—I do think it is important for singles to look inward more. I invite you to put into the practice the advice that I offer above. We see these five common mistakes almost everyday, but by making good use of the tools available, you will open the door to meeting other sincere people who love the Catholic faith.
If you have not done so already make sure to get a copy of our Dating Guide For Single Catholics. In this free e-book you will find additional resources to help you navigate the world of online dating.