The way we date has changed so much in the past decade or so thanks to online matchmaking and social networking sites. Just when we were getting the hang of the regular dating etiquette and rules (Is he flirting? Do I call him first or let him call me? How do I know if we’re exclusive?), along comes an entirely new world of profiles, “poking,” status updates, “winking” and more. And while the benefits of online dating can’t be ignored (expanding your dating pool to millions of men you might never have met on your own, scientific compatibility matching, just to name a couple) it can seem daunting to learn a whole new way of relating to the opposite sex through cyberspace. The good news is, you don’t have to.
Of course it’s important to learn the new guidelines for communication and safety when dating online (I discuss them in detail in Chapter 6 of Dating Without Drama), but the fundamental principles of Dating Without Drama (“understand him better, love yourself more”) still apply whether you meet a guy at your church social gathering or on Match.com. Just because you connect in a modern way doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect old-fashioned respect, commitment and fidelity once you take your relationship offline and into the real world.
A question posted recently in the DWD Facebook community illustrates the confusion we can sometimes experience about the rules of a relationship that starts online.
Nikki B asks: Very important question about online dating. You are in a long term relationship with someone you met online. He tells you that he’s committed and at the same time talks to other girls on the dating site he met you. And you know he’s doing it behind your back and telling you he’s not talking to any other girls (i.e. lying). You’ve had discussions about asking him to remove his profile, he refused. Is this a red flag? What can be done in this situation?
Nikki, the short answer to your question is: YES. This is a red flag. His behavior is more than a red flag, actually – it’s a deal-breaker.
When you begin online dating, of course it’s healthy and smart to connect with multiple people. I encourage every (online or traditional) dater I coach to casually date a few worthy prospects before establishing a commitment. It helps you discover what you’re looking for in a partner and learn what makes you compatible. However, once you find someone special and decide together to commit to a monogamous relationship, both partners should cease contact with anyone else they were seeing. Not only is it respectful to do so, but it’s crucial to ensure your new relationship grows and thrives.
As for your respective online dating profiles? They should be willingly removed from the site or disabled. Keeping an active account (which allows for email communication and online chatting with other members) is deceptive, rude and indicates the attitude “I’m in a relationship but keeping my options open until something better comes along.” A strong relationship cannot be built when one (or both) partners have one foot out the door.
Nikki, you mention in your question that he says he’s committed to you. However, his behavior shows you he’s anything but. If he lies to you about communicating with other women online, he’s surely capable of lying to you about seeing other women in person behind your back. You ask what can be done in this situation? Well, if you’re familiar with Dating Without Drama, you know that the only person’s actions we have control over are our own. That means you can’t make him take down his profile any more than you can make him respect you and make him want to be faithful. You can, however, end this relationship and open yourself to the possibilty of meeting a man — online or elsewhere — who will cherish you and want to be with you and only you.
All my best to you and please post an update in our Facebook community.
Want your burning dating or relationship question answered next week? Post yours on the Dating Without Drama Facebook page Monday-Wednesdays… I answer the one with the most “likes” in my blog every Thursday.