Singles in their twenty's aren't short of meeting people - through work, active lifestyles, university and large social groups. Social networking is also a way of life with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (and now Tinder!) helping online dating to effortlessly slot into normal life.
BUT if only it were that easy...!
Compared to our grandparents era, traditional dating rituals have become almost obsolete, having been edged out by hooking up, hanging out and casual sex. Sure, there are plenty of opportunities for the 20+ age group to meet people through online dating, however they should still be strategic in their approach - to make the most of their freewheeling days and pave the way for regret-free romance later in life.
If you're twenty-something and embarking on an online journey to potential love, here are some essential tips for improving your chances of success:
(1) Leave Room For A Love Life
With better education and job opportunities, more singles are living in cities and towns to enjoy the fruits of their success. But inadvertently they may be closing off dating possibilities, in preference for their career, travelling and a carefree lifestyle. In particular the woman who may decide to put off marriage and families until their late 30s, but then find themselves competing against younger females in the dating game - and at a time when there is more urgency and seriousness about the process.
- Be OPEN to possibilities.
- Like yourself and know you're worthy; when your self-esteem is high, people will be attracted to your positive energy.
- You can't simply 'be' on an online dating site - you need to actively 'use' it. Most importantly, post a well-crafted profile and put in the hard work when it comes to searching for matches, messaging them, responding to standouts and meeting in person.
- Remember that online dating is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
(2) Know Your Standards (and stick to them!)
If you want to take control of your dating life, make sure you create a set of standards of HOW you date and do this without exception. Before embarking on a lifelong commitment, we should take the time to learn more about ourselves and identify what our standards and values are. Many people go through their entire life without this clarity. Values are beliefs that guide us in the way we make decisions, live our lives and interact with others. It's about how someone treats you, your connection, common interests and life goals.
- Write down your values and 'deal-breakers' before embarking on online dating. Make sure you stay true to yourself and your beliefs.
- He or she may look good on paper, but the FANTASY can be very different from REALITY. Move to offline meeting early on as real relationships happen in person, not behind a computer screen.
(3) Expand Your Dating Horizons
Your twenties are the ideal time to find out what you do and do not like. You may even be surprised by what you find if you take the time to explore options, as opposed to shutting too many doors or getting stuck dating the same 'type'. At this point in your life, dating is more about you than it is about the other person. You’re figuring out how to love and how to be loved.
- Date as many DIFFERENT types as you can to get a good sense of what’s out there and to weed out the kind of people you don't like.
- Don't cling onto or waste too many years of your 20s on the wrong relationship.
- You have youth on your side; don't settle for less than you deserve!
(4) Have Realistic Expectations
The more barriers, requirements and rules you enforce, the smaller and smaller the dating pool will become. Good looks, outgoing personalities, money, sporty types, the kind of person who 'works' the room are often most desired, while the genuine 'nice guy' or 'nice girl' gets quietly ignored. Don't settle for something that doesn’t make you happy, but equally don’t continue to chase something you might never find. What we WANT versus what we NEED can be two very different things.
- Don't let your checklist keep you single by setting your online filter criteria too narrow (i.e. I MUST have an educated professional who is 6 ft. tall and has an athletic physique!)
- Don't try to date someone's POTENTIAL instead of their REALITY. You can't change people, so don't waste years of your life trying. Love isn't swimming upstream.
- Accept there will be the good, the bad (and the ugly) who will try to chat you up. Yes the riffraff are also on dating sites, use the DELETE button frequently and don't let it get you down.
(5) Show Restraint
The reality is there is a game to be played when online dating and it's called RESTRAINT. Always be calm, cool and collected. You should know your worth and always remember that if the person is for you, then it will be proven in a positive way.
- Don't freak people out with your neediness - crazy behaviour never equals 'cool'.
- Don’t get mad at your date if they don't answer your text, email or phone call right away. Being too demanding will only drive them away.
- Don't show the movie before the trailer - unless you're after a casual hook-up, invest time in actually getting to know someone before having sex (and I don't mean on the 2nd date!)
- Don't get caught in the Texting Trap. Too many people use texting as an easy and convenient way to communicate, but getting to know each other should not be convenient; it should be personal.