All daters have fears. One reality of dating is that we make ourselves vulnerable. And yet that’s also part of what makes meeting someone and getting to know them so amazing. It’s a risk to put yourself out there, but when you open up and let people into your world it can be incredibly rewarding.
Online dating has made it easier than ever to connect with people but it can also lead you to feel unsure about where you stand with someone or what the next step forward is. So how do you work past your online dating fears? The first step is recognizing what your fears are.
Here are five common online dating fears and some tips to on how to address them:
1. Fear of the Unknown
For those who are new to online dating, sometimes the scariest part can be navigating this new world and its unique social norms. When do I message someone? How many messages are “normal” to send? When should I ask her out? When you don’t know all the ins and outs it can seem a bit daunting at first.
If you’re not sure how to get started, think about doing a little research. One of the best ways to get over feeling unsure about something is to learn about it. Talk to your friends, speak to people you know who have done it before, and get their thoughts. And (we hate to plug ourselves too much) but you can always read about online dating through articles and advice on The Date Mix too.
2. Fear of the Blank Page
We’ve all been there. You sign up for a dating site, you add your picture, and then the next step is an empty box and a prompt to describe yourself. Um… What do I say?! Writing is always hard when you’re starting with a blank page, so start with a few questions you want to answer instead.
When filling out your profile, it’s good to let a few key points guide what you say: Where are you right now in your life? What are the things you like to do with your time? What attracts you to people? What are you looking for by signing up? Think about when a friend asks you if you’re interested in a setup with someone—What are the first things you want to know about the other person? If it’s what his or her job is, put your job down. If it’s if the person is active, mention that you’re active and want someone you can do things with. By thinking about what you want in another person, you can give yourself ideas about how to write your profile to attract that person.
3. Fear of Rejection
All daters fear rejection and online daters are no different. Sometimes when you’re sending messages and saying yes to people and not getting any responses, it can feel like nobody is out there. Or maybe you have found someone and you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. This is natural, but like all dating, you’ll never know until you try. Remember other people are taking a chance and putting themselves out there as well. The good thing about online dating is you know you’re experiencing the same things as the people you’re connecting with.
Dating takes bravery. Chances are, you will be rejected and you’ll reject others. It’s OK to fear rejection but you should also realize that it’s part of the process. You’re discovering what you do and don’t like and what’s important to you in a romantic relationship. The other people you’ll interact with are doing the same. Some people will discover there are things they do and don’t like about you. Be ready to face rejection but be open to the idea that’s a step towards finding the right person.
4. Fear of Moving Offline
According to a PEW Research Study from 2013, 1/3 of people who use online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online. If you fear meeting people offline, you’re not alone. Making the transition can be tricky to navigate but, just like in real life, at some point you have to ask for the date.
Always move at the pace that feels right for you, but if you find yourself having long online relationships with people that last for months then never make it to a real-life date, it’s time to assess what you really want from online dating. If you’re happy with where you are, great. If you’re not having fun just chatting with someone and are feeling unfulfilled, maybe it’s time to think about moving the relationship forward.
5. Fear of Finding Something Real
So this one may seem a little odd but it’s a big one for any dater… Sometimes you think you know what you want—love, companionship, someone to share your life with—but when you’re faced with the reality of it, you realize it’s a big step. Meeting someone you really care about changes things. Making room for someone in your life means making changes in your life. And ya, this can be a little scary.
Just like with moving a relationship offline, moving a relationship to a higher level is something you do at your own pace too. You may start to to really like someone, your feelings may start to get really invested, and this may scare you. And here’s something else that may seem a little odd… Sometimes this fear can be good.
Uncertainty and uneasiness are ways we identify important decisions. When you’re fearful and you hesitate, it’s an opportunity to step back and evaluate why you feel that way. Similar to how you may fear an opportunity at work or a big change in your life, sometimes when you feel fearful it’s a sign that you’re onto something. Don’t ignore it!
While online dating, trust yourself and use your best judgement. Don’t let your fears hold you back but also don’t dismiss them. Instead, let your fears be catalysts for the decisions that will move you in the direction you want to go.