5 Stages of Online Dating


In my opinion, the sign up procedure for online dating sites should come with a warning. Warning: may cause irrational behavior and the odd white lie…

I think there are 5 district phases most online daters will travel through before reaching the nirvana of online dating. It’s a bumpy ride, full of highs and lows, but eventually we all get through it.

1 – I’ll just sign up for a laugh.

No one wants to admit that they’re seriously contemplating meeting their prince charming through a computer screen, and potentially paying for the privilege! It’s a safety net to refer to your online dating profile as a bit of a joke. I did it, I was like ‘oh yeah, I downloaded PoF, it should be a right laugh looking at profiles!’ You’re not fooling anyone except yourself!

Using this ‘as a joke’ excuse doesn’t work because you might be in stage one, but other online daters may have already experienced stage one.  They know you’re not really doing it as a laugh because they’ve used that same excuse on their friends and family at one time or another.

Its such an easy excuse to go to when you accidently view a profile of someone you know! I’ve been there. Fortunately he was (and still is) one of my very good friends. So instead of praying he wouldn’t see the BRIGHT RED notification that someone had viewed his profile, and subsequently finding out it was me, I sent him a message on there. It was like half 11 at night – on a week night, so I messaged him ‘Pofing at this time of night, on a school night? Shame on you.’ He laughed and said ‘Alright mum, I’m going to bed now anyway!’ neither of us bothered with the thinly veiled attempt at light heartedly justifying our presence on PoF.

2 – Searching for Perfection.

Do you really think if the perfect man was out there, he’d be sitting on OK Cupid, waiting for you to pop up? No. He’s out there riding unicorns over rainbows, dancing on moonbeams and turning clouds in to cotton candy.  No matter how many times you check your search for Mr Perfect, he will not be there. Again, I was guilty of this. I wanted a tall, athletic guy with brown hair and brown eyes, who had a good job, had a car and had a sense of humor, along with a huge …….. list of other positive attributes. That just wasn’t going to happen, but I convinced myself he would  see my profile, fall madly in love with me and we’d ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after. Oh how stupid I was.

Once people get over the fact that they are using the internet to find their perfect partner, I think they get into the mentality of ‘well, if I’m using Dating Sites, I might as well look for the perfect man.’

It’s a complete turnaround from the embarrassment of using the dating aid, to actively seeking a 100% match. It almost becomes a full time job, searching for locals, reviewing profiles, analysing likes and dislikes to see if you think you’ll be as compatible as the computer does. Then comes the difficult part, deciding whether to take the plunge and send the first message, but what would you say? This could be the man of your dreams, the message needs to be cute and funny, but not overly forward, but still bold enough to make an impact, after all he could be the one.

3 – Panic Buying AKA Desperation

That thought, or panic, ‘I’m never going to meet someone’  so you reply to any and every message you get. Trying to convince yourself you can look past the missing teeth, or hairy mole, or any other less stereotypical negative traits these men may have.

I’ve done this, oh boy, have I done this. I allowed myself to become obsessed with receiving new messages. 9 times out of 10, I wouldn’t find the men attractive or the conversation stimulating, but it was another man who was interested in me.  Every day, a new set of matches would appear, and with that brought new messages, like a little gift wrapped confirmation of beauty. I never went further than messages, because ultimately, I wasn’t attracted to them, their appearance or personality, but it didn’t stop me messaging back, I didn’t feel guilty letting them tell me how pretty they thought I was, and then when they got pushy about a date, I simply blocked them. Don’t give me that look, we’ve all done it!  I’m not saying I spent every waking moment on dating apps, I’m just saying that when I had a bit of free time, it was enjoyable being showered with compliments!

4 – Despair or Defeat

None of the conversations are going anywhere, none of the men you find attractive are messaging you, it’s all starting to go horribly wrong. This is the stage where confidence in the dating application starts to waver.

What if I never find someone? What if I end up alone and miserable? Are these men the best I can do? Some of them have a higher number of teeth than they do IQ!

Your friends are positive, but their assurance that you’ll find the right one, one day just falls of deaf ears. They don’t understand, 4 men with 4 equally revolting traits want to take you on a date this weekend, but none of the lookers who have viewed you have so much as said a peep.

Perhaps online dating isn’t for you, perhaps you’ll have to give in to the fact that if you don’t meet anyone naturally, you might not meet anyone at all. I know I felt like that. There were tears, and I’m a little ashamed to admit a tantrum or two. I picked at my flaws and made them a much bigger deal than they are. I’m not skinny, but I’m not fat either, I like to call it adequately padded, curvatious if you will. I’m a size 12 (UK) which in my rational mind is average. I’m in proportion, as in I don’t carry fat in one specific area, my body likes to spread it evenly, but when I hit this stage of online dating, you’d have thought I was 50 stone the way I complained about my size.

It’s strange how much importance we place on validation of beauty by complete strangers. This is definitely the reversal of judging a book by its cover. At school we are taught not to judge a book by its cover, but to take a look what’s inside, in human case, it’s the inner beauty we are taught to look for, but now, venturing into the world of social media and online dating, we want to have our covers judged and approved by strangers trawling through dating sites. Being rejected by a strange man on the internet suddenly becomes a serious threat to our self-esteem, especially for those in Stage 4 of online dating!

5 – Seeing it for what it is

As with most things, the more you pay, the better service you get. If something is cheap/free it attracts a different class of person than something that costs a bit more money.

The same goes for dating sites. People seriously looking for love are more likely to be willing to pay that membership fee in the hopes that it will open the golden gates to true love.  People that aren’t willing to pay that money, are not necessarily seriously looking for love, they might say they are, but in reality they’re not serious about it. There are some occasions where this theory is wrong, but overall the correlation between seriousness of looking for love and subscription feels willing pay is a positive one.

Getting over stage 4 is like a revolution, why did you doubt your beauty? These men that overlook you don’t even know you, and it’s their loss if they don’t want to get to know you.  You don’t want people in your life that don’t want you in theirs.

Once I’d figured that out, I was a free woman. I’m not talking burning bras and not wearing shoes, I’m talking free of those metaphorical chains that were holding me back. Each chain link, on its own was a small insecurity, but when I let these rejections (that let’s face it weren’t even rejections as the conversation never even started) get to me, all joined together to form a prison of my own self-doubt.

Over all, I’m happily sitting at stage 5. At the moment, I’m not on a mission to find the one, if he even exists, I’m plodding along, chatting to men, dating occasionally, and enjoying being single. I don’t think I will find love online anytime soon, but I’ll see what happens!


Single in South Essex



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