How to Earn Your Diploma in Online Dating
Online dating is unlike almost any other experience.
Typically paying our dues, earning our stripes, throwing ourselves into something is rewarded with increased knowledge. And the sense of, well, winning. Or at least some sense of achievement.
If anything, the more online dating experience I acquire, the more I feel like a failure.
The simple truth is that having more online dating encounters, gaining more knowledge, even becoming a dating expert…none of these things are indicative of whether one will succeed at finding love.
If your goal is casual sex, to relieve boredom, and/or to explore the nebulous “what’s out there,” then a foray into online dating may prove worthwhile.
But if your goal is a full-fledged relationship, time and experience aren’t always rewarded.
It’s a bizarre, unique, and frequently frustrating reality.
Having said that, I’m blessed to have learned a ton of lessons about myself over the past (almost) six years.
I’ve laughed. Cried. Tackled fears. Grown.
Though I have met some amazing guys (really), I have yet to meet my special person. It hasn’t been in the cards for me.
I keep searching with my unofficial online dating degree and credentials in hand (and heart).
So, my fellow online dating peeps, which degree have YOU earned?
The 5 Degrees of Online Dating
Maybe you reluctantly, hastily, and/or lazily throw up a photo or two so that you can, in theory, participate via an app or two. You lurk behind the scenes, perusing various profiles out of some combination of boredom and curiosity.
You don’t actually interact with anyone. You’re not ready yet.
Depending on what your next move is, you might graduate to higher levels.
Or decide to avoid the online dating big leagues forevermore.
Create a minimal profile
Ability to review profiles
The typical owner of an associate degree has encountered someone who lied about his/her appearance, number of children, or marital status OR has been stood up/canceled on at least once.
For the lucky few, you might find your person out of the gate. You might avoid the disasters that unite most of the online dating community.
If you find your person within meeting 5 people in real life, I’m putting you in this category.
Posting a semblance of a profile — photo(s) and a few words
Sifting through profiles
Working knowledge of ghosting, blocking, dick pics, and catfishing
At least one actual meeting in real life
Familiarity with the hallmarks of a scammer
There are multiple ways to earn this degree.
If you got fully, straight up scammed, you jump to this degree regardless of your other credentials.
Thinking you’ve found someone amazing, having faith in them and giving them money in an effort to be helpful, and then realizing that you fell victim to such a humiliating, painful scam.
This happened to a friend of mine. This person lived in a smaller town and didn’t know what he/she was doing. Additionally, this person was too embarrassed to admit that he/she was doing online dating — he/she didn’t have anyone to bounce the experiences off of. This person is very smart but at that time was not savvy about the pitfalls of online dating.
The more traditional way to earn a Bachelors is through LOTS of sifting through profiles. Initiating message after message. Making the occasional (or even frequent) match only to have it go nowhere.
Or having success with making plans, only to have lots of first dates fail to materialize into second dates.
To have a deep appreciation of ghosting. And to acknowledge that you’ve done it, too.
You’ve received and/or sent dick pics (or not quite a dick pic).
You’ve made the occasional solid match, resulting in a brief, long-term, or a somewhere-in-between relationship.
Posting a proper mixture of profile pics
Experience with exchanging messages, texting, and following through with meeting someone in real life
Ability to ignore hot, scantily clad nurses living in Ghana who enjoy foodstuffs
Resiliency over someone blowing you off for a planned date
The holders of this degree are savvy, experienced, and, yes, possibly jaded and bitter.
To have this distinction, you have dated for YEARS.
You have experienced it all.
Requests for anal sex, sex tapes, threesomes.
I’ve lost count of how many guys have asked me if I’m looking for a dom. They have loved me over the years. The feeling isn’t mutual. (Though I respect most of them. They are typically upfront about their intentions. I can appreciate the transparency.)
Being absolutely blasted by angry, belligerent dudes. My offense? Respectfully telling them that I don’t want to go out with them.
The confused, the confusing, the users, the manipulators, the liars, the flakes.
The near misses. The guys with a heart of gold. The guys who would become good friends.
The regular schlubs. They might not be right for you, but they are sincerely looking for love. And you can’t help but hope they find it. Just not with you.
Over a year of online dating experience
Interactions with over 500 people (To clarify: interactions include messages, texts, and phone calls, too — not just dates)
A mixture of failures and successes
The owner of a PhD has years and years and years of online dating experience.
NOTHING surprises a PhD.
I think there are two tracks for the holder of a PhD.
The first is to throw in the towel. I don’t blame that person at all!
Once you’ve acquired this much experience, I can totally understand reaching the point where you decide that you are done. All the time, effort, lessons, and open-mindedness (at least a shred of it) doesn’t matter anymore. The sane option is to take your PhD and walk off of the digital campus into the real world forevermore.
The other option is the one I’ve taken. To hang in there.
People will question that decision. Rightfully so.
But this second type of PhD holder, armed with a sense of humor, a speck of hope, and a hefty amount of accepting the process, is willing to keep trying.
Some PhD holders, like myself, want to help others navigate the confusing, tricky, murky online dating waters.
It doesn’t come from a place of ego or self-importance, but being in the trenches for so long. For seeing the pitfalls. For seeing the highs and the multitude of lows.
We would love to give you confidence and clarity. As much as one can, anyway.
Even a PhD doesn’t have it all figured out! It’s a neverending quest for knowledge about relationships, love, and self-love.
At least 5 years of online dating experience
Interactions with over 1000 people
A quest for self-exploration
The knowledge that being zen is critical to online dating
Those who read me regularly might have noticed that I graduated recently. I used to include language at the end of my P.S. I Love You stories that I had my Masters in Online Dating.
I realized a few weeks ago that I’ve earned my PhD!
It’s depressing more than anything.
But I’ve earned it. Undoubtedly.
When I say that I’ve got a PhD in Online Dating this is in NO way an attempt to brag!
If anything, it proves that I have been an abject failure by almost every measure.
But it does, in fact, make me an expert on the matter.
Unfortunately, that was never my intended purpose, but it’s the silver lining, I suppose.
The best thing about having my Masters and recently acquired PhD is helping others! I didn’t go into online dating with the expectation of writing about my experiences.
In fact, it NEVER occurred to me those years ago that I would end up here. But sharing my stories and connecting with others in the online dating trenches has been a wonderful byproduct of the past nearly 6 years.
Forgive me, though, if I don’t toast to another 6!
Bonnie was off the dating market from 1998 (when she met her now ex-husband) till early 2014. She has been online dating on-and-off for almost 6 years. She has gone out on at least 100 first dates, interacted with over 1000 guys, and reviewed at least 10000 profiles. Bonnie recently earned her PhD in Online Dating. This means: (1) That Bonnie is a failure at dating AND (2) She’s accumulated a lot of experiences and knowledge about the dating landscape for middle-aged chicks.
If you liked this story, you might also like:
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!