One of the challenges of online dating is knowing when to proceed or cut something short. Spend enough time using dating apps and sites and we’re likely to notice a pattern to the interactions that don’t work or that set off an icky feeling. What I see time and again, though, is people wrestling with the ‘data’ of what they’ve learned. They notice, for instance, that they don’t have any positive experiences of engaging with people with minimal info on their profiles. But then they fear that if they rule out all people with little or no profile info that they’re potentially going to let The One slip through their fingers. So, what should we do then?

In all dating situations, ‘rules’ that appear to work in some instances, don’t work in others. For example, some people wait until three months to have sex and go on to have a relationship. Some people also wait that long and no relationship happens. The waiting three months is not what determines the success of the relationship. It’s why I discourage relying on arbitrary dating rules that are really about avoiding vulnerability and trying to control outcomes or the relationship itself.

What noticing patterns to our interactions does is allow us to be more discerning. In doing so, we can make better choices.

So, let’s go back to the example of dating profiles with little or no information. If experience has shown us that chatting with these people doesn’t work, we need to go with the data. We need to listen to the messages, not just from our body (discomfort) but also from the situation.

It’s our job to be discerning and operate from our boundaries and standards. If we’ll second-guess the crap out of ourselves over a veritable stranger, there’s only room for desperation, not discernment. The former has no place in healthy dating.

When it comes to dating, start as you mean to go on. A healthy stage 0-1 interaction makes it more likely for a happy, healthy stage 2+ relationship. It’s why I encourage people to have a recruiter mindset. A recruiter wouldn’t keep talking to job applicants where they seemed to fulfil a typical pattern. They wouldn’t! If we’re fairly clear on who we are and the type of relationship we’re looking for, we don’t need to lose our mind over whether we were “too hasty” with some rando who sent us an unsolicited sext or where it was super awkward/creepy in the chat.

We must acknowledge what we’re learning and follow through. It’s a commitment to listening to and trusting ourselves. That only leads to good places.

It’s not worth the effort of trying to prove that the ‘data’ is ‘incorrect’ by finding an example of someone who has, for example, little info and is a decent potential partner. We have to let that go and not overanalyse it. If we don’t, we will lose sight of our intentions and the relationship we say that we want to be in.

What we mustn’t do, however, is assume that because someone puts a lot of information in their profile, or certainly more than the people we rule out, that ipso facto, they’re a “good”, potential partner. What we are doing by not dealing with all profiles, though, is whittling down our headache. Not everyone can be The One. When we’re willing to be discerning, we stop settling for crumbs.

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