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Online dating: Let’s first take about what dating means to you…How you define the term? Is it partnered monogamy? Is it casual dates and getting to know people? The answer to this is what will guide how you focus on new interactions. Whether we like it or not, a large majority of this answer is shaped by our immediate community. Our friends and family and this is something to take into account. It’s hard to be present when instinctually swiping on babes. We see what we want right away but are we also ready to engage in that? How do you date and have fun? How do you avoid empty interactions? How do create memories and avoid traumas? Have fun sex safely? Fall in love? I don’t have answers for everyone, there are a multitudes of attitudes and ideas around dating but I know what works for me. I know what had made me feel the best in dating and what has left me like…damn, will I ever meet anyone good? So In this post I want to give what works for me… I hope it can resonate with you in some way and allow you to enjoy online dating in a new way. 1. Willingness to be open with the other person. We can all have a surface level conversation about the weather or how our day went but are you/they asking questions that dig a bit deeper? For me, doing this digging is WAY easier to do in person. So I often purpose a meetup fairly soon. Some people can be averse to the idea but online interactions aren’t a part of my dating vision. When I imagine new relationships, I see the person in front of me, talking with me and looking at me while we figure out our next move. Getting to know someone is an essential part of any interaction whether the goal is one date or many. 2. Communicate needs! If you aren’t looking for anything serious, be comfortable just having fun and understand that might not mean casual sex for the other person. Allowing the vulnerability of talking about what you want and what you’re looking for right away. Autonomy is such an important element of most relationships, friends and interactions. 3. GO OUT ON A DATE! Not going over to someone’s home as soon as you meet them, being taken on a date isn’t a thing that a man needs to ask for or extend. As a female identity, I put the ask out when it feels right and really don’t settle for less, meaning I won’t get someone’s snapchat and NEVER meet them unless it’s something we talked about prior( snapchat for me is a black hole of interaction). Understanding a person’s financial situation is important but if you’re on a dating site you should be ready to well…date! This is a time you get to explore being with a new person. The date may not go well or it could be magical but sitting inside watching Netflix isn’t a bond building activity. Go outdoors, go to dinner, cook together, and try an activity that you’ve always wanted to but never had time for. 4. Make yourself the priority! You should be able to live your life and then make dedicated time for that new person, this includes texting or online back and forth. When you meet it makes the interactions more special. Becoming too intertwined too early is a slippery slope. Playing the who will text first game also doesn’t work. Ask for what you want, when you want and allow the other person to do the same! 5. Give it time, good relationships whether they are casual or not take a bit to form. We are learning a new person. We might not match them but we can decide when we want to compromise. 6. DO NOT IGNORE RED FLAGS! If you feel uncomfortable, friends are telling you about worrying signs, the person seems like they are hiding something, and the person says things that are worrisome or raise concern, etc. walk away. You will save yourself time and energy. You are not obligated to fix someone when you are first meeting them or in general. You can choose to tell them it’s not a good fit or that you don’t want to see them again. This can be hard but believe me, settling is way worse. Dating can never truly be a perfect dance, but we can do things to help make is a more enjoyable experience. Don’t box yourself into ideas about dating that haven’t worked for you. If monogamy sucks, try something new! If you have only dated one type of person, allow new types in and question your ideas about what is attractive to you. So go ahead and get to dating. XOXO Bigbodymami