How to take online dating slowly?
March 2, 2014 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm a bisexual woman in my 20s, and I started online dating in January. I moved to a new country so I am totally content with meeting new people and learning more about the city through them. I also really enjoy just talking to new people in general without any expectations, but I wonder if can do something better so I can actually have something romantic?

I have relationship experience, only about ~1 year each, and each of those didn't really go through a dating period. It's more like someone who I met organically while I wasn't looking. Relationship 1 I knew I liked from the beginning, and had enough intensity that it was clear that it was heading down relationshipville and it did. Other relationships at first took maybe 3 one-on-one meet-ups for me to even start feeling something towards the other person, but when the sparks flew it really did. I ran with it and boom, relationship!

Right now, I'm open to a relationship but only if it takes a slower pace than everything else I've experienced so far. I used to run purely on attraction and gut feel, which isn't good for figuring out deal breakers early on. I don't want to settle down, but it would be nice to see someone exclusively. I haven't really done dating thing until recently.

So far I haven't dated anyone long enough to figure out that I'd like to pursue them romantically. I tend to call my meet ups from online dating as meet ups and not dates. I feel like I need to gather more data about new people before I express interest. I do invite people out for drinks, events, etc. but I fear that my other people aren't interested unless it's explicitly going down a romantic or sexual direction on the second or whatever, which is too fast for my liking.

I'm also bad at flirting, but I didn't think that it was a problem since it didn't stop me from having romance in the past.

My ideal dating trajectory is acquaintance --> friends --> romantic partners. And somehow I have a feeling that others expect stage 3 to happen right away, but I can't do that if there's no sizzling sparks--and the sparks need some time. Also, I really don't like touch way too early. I have a bigger sense of personal space, which is on a different level from the local culture where people kiss each other on the cheek in greeting, but I do experience chemistry as long as there is strong emotional and intellectual rapport.

I also tend to meet with cool but geeky people with introvert tendencies, so not I'm not sure if I have to make my dating approach more obvious?

So yes, more specific questions below:

-Is keeping things very platonic in the beginning harmful? (Especially since you're meeting with a stranger? I don't know how people can flirt with complete strangers, or be touched by someone on the 2nd date even just on the elbows or whatever.)
-How can I express, "Hey, I think you're cool but I want to gather more data about you. I can't be interested in you *that* way since it's too early to tell!"
-How can I keep things slow and let them know I haven't "friendzoned" them yet?
-And even if we're not compatible romantically, how can I befriend them without them thinking that it's only a consolation prize? I think friendship is awesome!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing about what you want is wrong, but I think you are looking in the wrong place for it. In my past experience, despite the fact that some dating sites have an option for "looking for friends", people are not there looking for friends. It's okay for you to want friends; it's also okay for them to want romantic partners. You need to be looking in places where it's more normal to meet people, make friends, and then consider being romantic partners later. Hobby websites, social websites, online games with a social component--it might work. Meeting people in the real world is often easier. But while you can say up front "I'm just looking for friends first" in your online dating profile, you're basically saying that to a collection of people who are there looking for, well, dating.

Because if you're looking to start out as friends, right now, you aren't dating. You are making friends. Dating is the thing that happens later. Friendship is absolutely awesome, but there are a million better options for places to make friends than on an online dating website.
posted by Sequence at 8:11 AM on March 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

1. Be up-front in your profile. Say that you really have to get to know someone before you're super comfortable being flirtatious. Yes, this will tank some dates, but dates tank every day. You're looking for someone that works for you.

2. Pretty much just say that. Paying people compliments is always good ("I think you're cool," and translates easily in to learning about them "so tell me more about that trip.")

3. If someone seriously brings up the term "friendzone" with you, you're better off without them. If you need to go slow, you do, and that's fine.

4. However, people do not get on online dating sites to look for friends. I agree that friendship is awesome generally, but it's not awesome for someone looking for a romantic partner. Maybe you'll make friends out of failed dates, but it's not really something you can have as a goal. If it happens, great, but really do not try to make it happen.

Finally, yeah, as Sequence says, if the model that works for you is "friends turn into a couple," then you need to do friends-making stuff. Meetups, hobby-related groups, etc.
posted by kavasa at 8:15 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I third that dating sites aren't good places to look for friends. It sounds like your preferred method of dating requires you to expand your social circle quite a bit, which honestly takes a lot more work than online dating from my perspective.
posted by metasarah at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Upfrontedness is quite,(quite) important. But although websites are fun, getting out there through sports, activity or encounter groups is a wonderful way to make connection because the potential pool of mates who could approach will always be larger in person than online.
posted by parmanparman at 9:32 AM on March 2, 2014

What country are you from and what country did you move to? I've had great luck asking friends at language meetups, expat meetups, Internations is a decent place to meet people. And yes it has led to some romantic encounters as well.
posted by Che boludo! at 11:15 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just say in your profile that you like to take things very slowly, and that you're looking for someone who is open to the same.
posted by Gray Skies at 2:48 PM on March 29, 2014

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