What Not To Do: Online Dating

I’ve been trying my hand at online dating for quite a while now. Even after a couple of years (it’s obviously going REALLY well) I continue to be amazed by deal-breaking actions of potential mates. For a while, I thought I was being too picky or that my standards were too high, however my friends, family, and even a licensed family and marriage counselor have assured me that is not the case. So I offer up the following advice on online dating, to be considered for your entertainment, self-improvement, or otherwise.

  1. “Hi” is not a message. “Hi” is what you say to the cashier at the grocery store as you put your bananas down on the counter. In fact, it’s usually followed by “How are you?” One word messages don’t deserve responses. I spent a crapload of time writing interesting stuff about myself in this profile, and all you can come up with is “hi?” Try harder.
  2. Please spare me the microagressions (and not-so-micro-aggressions). I wrote a profile to provide information about myself, with the idea that you might comment on something other than my appearance. I wrote in my profile that I’m a feminist so that misogynistic, sexist pigs know better than to contact me. Don’t spend your time spewing hatred at me via message. I’m just going to report your profile. Maybe you should invest yourself in thinking about your irrational fear of strong women, instead (preferably through psychotherapy).
  3. Don’t talk about your other online dates. Obviously, everyone who is online dating is looking at plenty of fish, so to speak. Don’t bring it up, though! I’m sorry that someone else stood you up, bro. Oh, you have another online date tomorrow? Maybe you’ll like her more than you like me? Online dating is an experience that we share, but maybe we can find something else to talk about?
  4. Do not bring up your ex. Or exes. This is just a dating no-no in general. If a relationship progresses with someone, you are probably going to eventually get to talking about past relationships. But that is not first date (or pre-first date) conversation. What are you trying to tell me? That other people have actually dated you in the past? Okay…good for you? This doesn’t really come across as proof that you’re not a violent sociopath. It just makes it seem like you’ve got baggage and you’re not over your ex.
  5. No means no. Sometimes I don’t message people back. Don’t keep messaging me until I have to block you. That is stalkerish and absolutely guarantees that I’m never going to talk to you. And if I politely inform you that I’m not interested, I am not opening it up for bargaining or negotiation. Accept the rejection. Move on. I already decided the outcome, you don’t get to re-decide it for me.
  6. Don’t ever tell anyone that you are going to make a voodoo doll of them. This should go without saying, right?
  7. Don’t start by putting yourself down. Humility is a wonderful trait. Being self-deprecating is not. Do not start a message (or your profile) with “I’m not very good at this online dating thing” or “I’m not very good at writing messages” or “I hope I’m not too short, or too far away, or too [whatever].” I’m out here looking for the future father of my children, folks. If my first interaction with you suggests that you completely lack self-confidence, think you’re pathetic, or see yourself as a loser, you are not getting past square one.
  8. Don’t lie. Just don’t. I’m like an online dating ninja. I’ll discover the truth. Besides that, if you actually get to meet me/date me and I find out that you lied, I will unceremoniously excise you from my life.

The one upside of constantly dealing with these ridiculous online dating follies is that it provides endless entertainment for me and my friends. So, potential suitors, if you do commit any of these no-nos, know that I’m doing a dramatic reading of your messages over a glass of wine and sending screenshots to everyone. Thanks for the laughs. It’s not me; it’s you.

The Truth About the First Year as a New Professional

This time last year, I was at the height of job searching. I was focused on finishing my degree and getting a job, confident that I would then be headed for smooth sailing. The problem with my intense focus on the job/degree goal is that I didn’t understand that challenges that would await me on the other side. I would say that my first year has been pretty good so far, but there is no denying that it’s been a major shift in my life. Here are some things that I’ve learned so far in my transition/quarter-life crisis.

  1. There are some things that you just don’t know until you know. Hindsight is 20/20, so to speak. You could ask a thousand questions during the job interview process, but there are a lot of things that you will never realize are important until you’re in the thick of it. It’s really tough to understand how you feel about something until you’ve experienced it. The nature of a job on paper and in words is quite different from the day to day experience. Because of this, having an open and positive attitude is an absolute must. “Open and positive”, by the way, does not mean, “just accept everything without question”.
  2. You might really miss being a student. That’s right. I said it. Not being a student has made me truly understand how awesome being a student was. I’m not sure if this is because of the constant sense of purpose and motivation that I derived from working toward my degree, the environment of inquiry and dialogue that I was part of, the sense of connection I felt to my institution because I was enrolled there, or just knowing where the heck buildings on campus were. All of the above. I know for sure that I miss it.
  3. Building a social network is a lot easier when you’re in school.  You thought making friends in college was tough? Being a grown up is a lot tougher. In graduate school, I spent so much of my time with my peers. We had classes together, ate meals together in the dining hall, worked on projects together in the library  or at each others’ homes, we were in a student organization together, etc. There was forced social interaction all the time. Turns out, this is helpful for actually getting to know people and spending time with them voluntarily. Don’t get me wrong; I get along well with many of my colleagues now and consider them friends. But living without that circle of friends that I was used to is one of the biggest differences. When your life doesn’t force you to spend time with others, you spend a heck of a lot more time alone. You need to make more of an effort to get to know people and build a network of friends.
  4. Life is hardly ever what you expected it to be like. This lesson is partly a result of my professional transition, but mostly a result of my personal experiences and my growing understanding of this journey I’m on at this particular time in my life. Most of the time, our expectations of the future turn out to be pretty inaccurate. The real question is whether or not we can free ourselves from those previous definitions and embrace the possibilities that await us every day. When I was younger, I can assure you that I did not think that as I near 25, I would be living in an apartment on a college campus, single, and with no path in the near future to getting married or having children. In many ways, that was how I contemplated my successful adult life for a long time. Although I have been shifting away from the “house/husband/children before 30” preoccupation for a while now, I’m still getting the hang of how I define my non-career related success in my adult life.

What important lessons have others learned from transitioning into their first professional position?