Years ago, online dating had a reputation that was less than desirable. But today, that stigma is quickly passing. Thousands of single Christians are currently finding friends and establishing relationships through online dating. Major websites like Eharmony are running huge advertising campaigns with great success. Online dating is becoming more and more mainstream, and the Christian singles community is jumping on board with both feet.
So you've been thinking about it too? Great! But before putting your "feet to the fire", here's some tips that will help make your online dating experience a pleasant and fulfilling one.
Your Secret Identity
Unfortunately, there are those who lurk in online dating sites (yes, even Christian ones) to prey upon unsuspecting victims. That's why it's so important to remain anonymous. Personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, should be kept under wraps until after you meet the person and feel you could trust them. Set up a free account through Juno, Hotmail or Yahoo specifically to communicate with online dating prospects. Never offer any info that could be traced online, such as last names, employers, addresses, etc. You'd be amazed at what someone can find out about you with a tiny piece of info. And if someone tries to pressure you into revealing something, RUN! Many cases of identity theft (as well as stalking) have been born through an online dating experience.
The Father Knows Best
So you're chatting with someone online and things seem to be going well. But there's a creepy feeling in your gut that just won't go away. Chances are it's not the leftover Chinese food you had for dinner. It may be the Holy Spirit ringing a warning bell.
The Lord knows what's best for us, and He wants us to obtain it. That's why the Holy Spirit is here. To guide us into situations that are good and lead us away from situations that are bad. It's the still small voice, your conscience, the gut feeling that either says, "Oh yeah, that's great" or "Ick, I don't want it". And in the Christian online dating game, it's your most important tool.
So in the first stages online dating, be skeptical. Don't buy into a message, profile, or something you've been told (the old saying still holds water--if it's too good to be true, it probably is!). The anonymity of the internet lets people be anything they want and often it's a completely false persona. So take your time and get to know someone. Don't rush things. Don't get into intimate conversations. And most importantly, if you get that yucky feeling, don't argue with it! Just quickly retreat from the situation and thank the Lord for His guidance.
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
Looks may not be everything, but in the online dating game, a picture can save you a big headache down the line. If there's not a photo on the website already, always ask for one before setting up a meeting. It confirms what the profile tells you and gives you an idea of what they look like (important to some, not so much to others). If the person balks at this for any reason, don't get involved any further. They're obviously trying to keep something hidden from you, possibly a spouse. How would you feel if you showed a picture of your new beau to someone and they said, "Oh, that's so-and-so's husband." Talk about embarrassing! Caution is key here. Use it in abundance and again, listen for the voice of the Lord.
In part 2 of this series, we'll look at the dos and don'ts of meeting face-to-face.
Jason Whitney is an author and copywriter whose new book "The Christian Singles Guide to Online Dating and Matchmaking" offers an easy-to-follow roadmap to help you find God's perfect partner. To learn more, go to http://www.ChristianDatingMadeEasy.com