online dating

By Marwa Rakha

Since internet dating services came to be in the 1990s, more and more serious love connections have come out of them, and today Tinder alone is matching 26 million people a day. Some people have excellent experiences with online dating that end in satisfying relationships. Others have stories filled with confusion and frustration. Thus, much like any other way to date, meeting someone online has both benefits and drawbacks. So, how does someone date online successfully? Here is a tough question for the one who always has our back when it comes to relationship advice, Identity’s Relationship Expert, Marwa Rakha.

Is it possible to gauge through an online conversation if a person has chemistry with you or not?

There are two main indicators that point us towards, or away from a person; body language and vibes. Body language includes facial expressions, tone of voice, eye-contact, and how a person moves his head on his neck and shoulders, his hands and arms over his face and chest, and how he positions his legs. Vibes, on the other hand, are not as tangible. They are just signals a person sends and they are differently perceived by various people. One could describe vibes as good, cheerful, and pleasant, or dark, uneasy, and negative.

In an online conversation, especially one that does not involve using a live camera, it is impossible to “read” a person’s body language. Still, you can feel a person’s vibes. You can feel if they are funny, upbeat, serious, or dull. Sometimes you cannot find an adjective to describe a person’s vibes; you can just feel uneasy or at ease. Be warned! Do not let vibes fool you! Some people are way more pleasant and attractive online than in real life.

Other than vibes, there are little pointers that would either repel you away from the conversation or draw you in further. For example, a person’s written language. The way a person strings a sentence tells a lot about how he/she thinks, his/her education, and level of attention to detail. A sloppy writer is not my cup of tea – but other people would not find that a drawback.

The type of questions that person asks, the ease and flow of the conversation, the level of eagerness to get to know you, and the speed at which he/she responds to your messages – so many little pointers along the way.

It’s quite common on online dating applications such as Tinder to meet many people, is it smart to have many conversations going at once, or you should only pick a few people to talk to?

It is normal to start talking to several people at the same time, but as the number, and quality, of conversations increase, it would be hard to continue juggling – unless you are not serious about dating.

Just like in real life, some people enjoy being elusive and keep as many options open, in the online world; there are also people who just enjoy chatting and flirting with no serious end in mind.

There is no absolute right and wrong advice when it comes to the number of conversations you are having, but it is only ethical to avoid leading people on, and promising things you cannot deliver.

If the other person was nice and everything, but wasn’t giving you much to work with, you had to be the one leading the conversation all the time, and you started to get a bit bored, should you stop talking to them, or mention this and risk making them feel self-conscious?

Some people are shy, but with a little patience and some encouragement, a shy person would eventually warm up to you. Some people are lost; they literally do not know what they are doing or why they are even talking to you. In that case, back off and save your energy. There are also people who are “not that into you” – slowing down is highly advisable.

If you feel bored, take that feeling seriously. It is a sign that “the relationship” is not on track.

When is it okay to go on an actual date with someone you met online?

It does not matter if you go on a date right away, or after a few chats. There is no correct timing to take an online relationship to the real world.

Having said that; let me warn you that people online are not exactly the same as when you meet them in real life. A smooth online chat can be the exact opposite when you meet for a cup of tea. My advice is to meet a person you met online, as soon as possible to avoid disappointment and emotional traps.

The worst emotional trap is falling in love with the online version of a person and not being able to even like the person in real life. Turnoffs can be as silly as, the way that person eats, laughs, rubs his palms, keeps touching his earlobes, cares for his teeth, smells, walks, drives, etc.

The most important thing when you meet a person is safety! For the first few meetings, choose public places, an appropriate time of the day, eat together, see how the check is being handled, and make sure you go in separate cars. Needless to say, whether you are online or offline, do not provide anything that could be used later to blackmail you – pictures, voice notes, text message, videos, etc.

What are the red flags you should watch out for?

If you are online, watch out for lies, discrepancies, people who agree with everything you say, and relationships that are “too good to be true”! If it is too good to be true, it is either not good or not true.

Also, people who talk negatively about their exes, previous partners, other dates, and friends will eventually say similar things about you!

Beware of a person you have no common friends with. This is very likely a fake profile.

Remember that you are not a saviour; if someone is on drugs, addicted to porn, alcohol, or sex, has unprotected sex, does not have a job and a steady source of income, does not get up in the morning, RUN! That person needs professional help not a relationship.

If you start talking on the phone or meeting, watch out for signs that this person is married and hiding it, or dating and playing around. The clearest sign is: unavailability at certain times. For example, weekends, at night, after working hours, etc.

If a person is controlling, clingy, or too hasty to suggest sex, stop and think about how you feel and what you want.

Too many excuses and apologies are a red flag. Not talking about childhood memories and family is another red flag.

My most sincere advice is slow down and remember that trust is earned not given!