Photo by Don Hankins

The five years I spent living in Miami helped give me perspective on the different dating cultures found across this country. As a New Yorker, there is a tendency for women to be more career-focused and delay marriage until their late twenties/early thirties. In Miami, though, I’ve notice that most girls want to be married by twenty-five and seem slightly less concerned about making a career for themselves. However, as many of my girlfriends in New York are saying goodbye to their twenties and finding themselves single and nowhere near starting a family, I imagine that they wish their current circumstances were different.

Half of my twenties were lost in a doctoral program in Miami. The dating pool left much to be desired for me. I am attracted to intellectual, hardworking men with diverse interests and who can rise above becoming products of their environments, not someone who wanted to get drunk on South Beach every weekend with plastic girls. But that’s just me. My close friends in Miami were younger than me and didn’t have much single male friends and all of my classmates in grad school were either married, gay or in a relationship. On top of that, there weren’t a lot of meetup groups or young professional organizations in Miami that I could join to help develop my personal interests and meet new people who shared those similar passions. So the more traditional means of meeting people through school, work, hobbies or friends were not proving to be fruitful. That’s when I first seriously considered online dating.

I know the mild stigma, moderate embarrassment and severe mortification that online dating can elicit. But I chose to face those fears and try to overcome them because I decided for myself that it was more important to try to possibly find someone to share my life with than to continue watching my time slip away hoping that my other dried up avenues might miraculously procure something of worth. Ultimately, what drove me then and drives me now is this: a subordinate woman watches passively as life screws her over; an empowered woman gets up and does something about it!

I had a choice: I could either continue to not do anything, and passively hope that a line of eligible and attractive suitors would form outside my door or get proactive about my dating life and make an effort to really find what was possible in my community. Was I nervous? Yes. Was I paranoid that I might meet a psycho who would chop me up into pieces? More often than I’d care to admit. But I took comfort in logic and reason. Remember the SATs or high school math when we learned about the bell curve for the first time? Basically, I applied that to human personality traits and told myself that statistically, the majority of the people out there are going to be normal or fall in the middle part of the bell curve. And I have my adult and child psychiatrist father to back me up on this 🙂 I repeated this to myself constantly as I waited patiently outside various coffee houses for first dates.

Also, don’t be afraid to be selective. I would not agree to meet anyone unless they had a picture and I found them good looking. Did it cut the pool significantly? Yes, but not completely. I still met with enough guys to get a healthy dating life going, one that I could blog about to my girlfriends. I wanted to share my experiences with my friends who were in the same predicament in the hopes of inspiring them to face their own fears and get out there.

Finally, don’t force yourself to see anyone you’re not really interested in. I went on many, many first dates, but only a handful of those progressed from there. I know myself really well and I’ll know after a first date whether I feel a connection or excited/intrigued about seeing the person again. If I don’t, I won’t, and I’ll politely let the guy know and move on. The last thing you want to do is pressure yourself into dating someone if you’re heart isn’t in it, and this is absolutely one place in life where your heart should have a voice, so please don’t silence it! The reason why it’s easy to let one prospect go and keep moving forward is because that’s the beauty of online dating: you’re always going to get a fresh pool of possible suitors because there are just so many people out there!

If marriage, a family and settling down are goals you genuinely want in your life and you’re having a hard time meeting people, you have nothing to lose with online dating as one tool among many to help you toward your goals. Don’t let anyone make you feel down for doing so either. They are not you, they do not share your circumstances or they are too weak to be proactive about their lives so don’t listen to that noise! In the end, you only have yourself to blame if life is not going in the direction you want it to be.

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