True or False: When you do online dating, you're taking your love story out of God's hands
True or False: Online dating is an embarrassing Plan B that you should only resort to when all your other options have failed
As we're getting ready to open up registration for our next LYSL class, we've been doing a little blog series around here.
We're going through some of the worst pieces of dating advice that so many of us have been given over the years, and we're setting the record straight.
In the first post we talked about one of the most widespread and confusing pieces of dating advice we've all been given –> “It'll happen when you least expect it.“ In that first post we talked about why that advice is so bad and what we should say instead.
Today we're tackling another piece of dating advice a lot of us have received over the years.
You ready to dive in?
Bad dating advice #2: An ideal love story does NOT begin on a dating app, so only do online dating if nothing else works.
This piece of dating advice tells us:
The ideal love story looks like meeting someone organically, in real life. (It's even better if you spend some time being friends first.) If you can't meet someone “naturally” — then try online dating. But keep the fact that you're using dating apps on the DL because it's kind of embarrassing. It's a sign that you've failed the “regular way” and also — if you do go the online dating route, you can say goodbye to a truly romantic love story.
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UGH, I had a hard time even writing those words. 🙈 But those ideas are so pervasive, so widespread, especially in church culture. We might not always say those things out loud (or say them quite so harshly), but those messages have spread like wildfire and seriously colored the way so many of us enter into our love stories.
So today I want to spend a few minutes diving into this particular piece of dating advice. You ready?
Is Online Dating really Plan B?
I mentioned this earlier, but I've been teaching my online course, Love Your Single Life, for seven years now. I've helped almost 7,000 women figure out why they're still single (it's NOT because they're unlovable or not good enough!), what it actually looks like to put themselves out there and practically how to do it, how to live their single lives to the full — which also happens to be the very best thing they can do for their dating lives AND their future marriage, and so much more.
As you can imagine, I've heard a lot of stories, and had a LOT of conversations about dating over the years — especially online dating. And after all of that, here's what I know…
My honest thoughts about online dating — after walking almost 7,000 women through it!
When I talk to women about online dating, I hear many of them echo the same concerns:
I think in some ways, we feel like deciding to do online dating is admitting defeat — it’s saying that we couldn’t hack it the “normal way” which makes us feel embarrassed and ashamed. I think we also worry that it’s not a good story — that when people ask us how we met, we’re going to feel like we missed out on the great, “I saw him, he saw me, and we just knew” story that we all really want!
And then the other big question I hear about online dating is whether or not doing something like that is taking our love lives out of God’s hands.
And I totally get all of those concerns. They make sense. They really do. But the more friends I’ve watched online date, the more women I've walked through this, and the more stories I’ve heard from people I actually know (not just on Christian Mingle commercials), the more I’ve come to not only respect the process of online dating, but really believe in it!
1. We do so much online — this isn’t weird like it used to be
And actually — it didn’t even used to be weird. If you look back in history at civilizations all over the world, there has always been a matchmaker or a matchmaker service. Either that, or parents have been choosing spouses for their kids. But never in history have people had to just figure it out on their own. There has always been someone or lots of people there to help them connect.
And I think it's important to put online dating in this context. It’s a more technologically advanced version of something that’s been a part of cultures around the world for centuries.
Even so, it does have some weird connotations — but not for the reasons we think.
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So the first online dating website started in the 80’s, and people thought it was weird.
They thought it was weird NOT because it was weird to have help finding someone. People have been doing that forever. It was weird because nobody had personal computers at the time, and so even finding a way to access the site would have required a trip to your public library. But more than that, people knew absolutely nothing about computers, and so the thought of having a computer choose someone for you just seemed crazy.
Nobody knew anything about algorithms, and they were super basic at the time.
And so the thing is, people weren’t weirded out about the concept of matchmaking. They were more weirded out about the technology.
But technology is something we are SO comfortable with now. We do everything on our iPhones, and so the thought of having a website that helps us meet new people really isn’t that crazy.
In so many ways, we’re already meeting people online. Think about it — social media helps us get to know people we either didn’t know, or used to know, or friends of friends. Social media is how I started talking to my last boyfriend before Carl. We were long-distance, so social media is how our relationship initially unfolded.
But we don’t just do this with dating, the internet is a great place to connect with new friends as well. I had a girlfriend over for dinner last night that I met through my blog. I’ve met friends on Instagram, collaborated with them on projects, had dinner with them, I’ve met their kids.
So my point is that we do lots of things differently in life these days. Technology connects us to all kinds of different people that we wouldn’t have been able to meet years ago. And so in my mind, online dating is the exact same thing. It’s allowing technology to help us meet people we wouldn’t have met otherwise. And I think that’s a really beautiful thing.
We have this resource, why not use it!
2. It’s like having a girlfriend introduce you to a TON of her great, single friends
I was listening to a podcast about online dating a few years ago, and I heard someone refer to it a little differently. I’d never heard this before, and it stuck out to me immediately. I was like, YES, this is exactly it!
Instead of referring to it as an “online dating service,” she referred to it as an “online introduction service.” And that’s exactly what it is. This isn’t online dating. You’re not even going as far as what my last boyfriend and I did. Our relationship lived online for a while. Yours doesn’t have to!
This is just a way of getting introduced to people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Here's an example…
I have a friend who lives in a TINY town. All of her friends are married (and have been for years), and if there was a single guy within a 50 mile radius, you better believe she would have known.
But there wasn’t. She really didn’t know ANYONE she could date, and really, nobody did. Her girlfriends didn’t have a bunch of single guy friends or single brothers anymore. Or maybe they never really did. And so my sweet friend was on her own. But also — there weren't a ton of bars or restaurants or kickball leagues in her town that she could join. She really was pretty stuck.
But right around the time when she was feeling like she was totally out of options, my friend Carly and I met her for dinner. And somehow, over that dinner, we started talking about dating.
That's when it all came spilling out. My friend told us how discouraged she was feeling, how she'd tried everything and nothing had helped, how left out she sometimes felt in her community, and how at this point, she was ready to give up.
Carly and I thought about it, and asked lots of questions, and proposed a few ideas, but nothing we were saying really clicked. The more we found out about where she is in life, and her town, and what’s available to her, the more we realized that she really had exhausted all of her options.
And so then Carly and I had an idea. We mentioned online dating, and the more we talked about it, the more excited we got. We started pitching online dating to her as if we had some stake in it, as if we'd invented it ourselves. Of course, we didn't invent online dating, and we had no stake in what she decided to do. We were just adamant for some reason that this was totally what she should try.
We got in the car after dinner and looked at each other and asked, “Why did we just do that?!” It was almost like we woke up from a haze and realized we were wearing Christian Mingle t-shirts and Christian Mingle giant foam fingers that we didn’t remember putting on.
Well, I am not kidding, two months later I got an email from my sweet friend and it had a picture in it. She was standing next to the cutest guy, and they were hugging each other. They were both positively beaming.
In the email she said, “I just have to thank you and Carly for suggesting I try this. We went to elementary school together and totally lost touch. It turns out he lives a few towns over, but I had no idea. We reconnected via Christian Mingle, and I’m just so happy, it’s unreal.” And just a few weeks later she sent us a picture of her left hand — they were engaged.
I know this sounds like fairy tale, and maybe it is. But they’re married now, and they’re so happy, and I just don’t know how they would have met each other if they both hadn’t taken that step.
So I really do look at online dating like an introduction service. It’s a way of seeing who’s living on the next block over, or in the next town, or in our very building that we’ve just never met before. It’s expanding our horizons, and acting like a really awesome girlfriend who just happens to want to set us up with an infinite number of her awesome, single guy friends.
And when it comes to taking the control out of God’s hands by online dating, I just don’t think that’s the case either. To me, the proactive step of deciding to meet more people by joining an online introduction service and joining the company kickball team so you can meet more people is the exact same thing.
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It’s doing what we have the ability to do, taking proactive steps to put ourselves out there. You’re not taking over, you’re just taking a step forward. God’s divine mystery still totally has to be at play here.
Which brings me to my next point …
3. You can meet your person online and still have a wonderfully romantic love story
I think every single one of us has had this thought about online dating at one point in our journey. We think, “But this isn’t how I envisioned my story.” And friend, I understand. You want to meet someone in a cute way — locking eyes on the dance floor at your best friend’s wedding, bumping into each other at the coffee shop while you’re both home for the holidays, or joining the same small group at church.
In fact, the very thought of scrolling through faces on a screen to choose your future husband might make you a bit queasy. You’re afraid it won’t work, but maybe more afraid that it will! You don’t want your story to be “We both swiped right.” My friend Carly met her husband on Hinge, an online dating app, and this was her biggest hesitation.
But here's what Carly realized:
She realized that meeting on Hinge isn’t really their story. It’s not the cute part because all Hinge did was introduce them. They found out about each other’s existence on an app and then went on to meet in real life. Their real story is the story of funny texts, of him accidentally standing her up, and then him knowing right away that she was his person when he met her on their first date.
And this is a lot like meeting in real life too, right? The story isn’t the part about finding out the other person exists. Carl and I met at work, and work isn’t romantic. A bar isn’t romantic, but the story of your conversation there might be. Your grad school class isn’t romantic, but the cute notes you passed might be the beginning of your story. Remember, introductions aren’t really the cute part. Online dating doesn’t mean you’re signing up for a bad story. The story is what happens next.
Okay, but maybe you've already tried online dating and it just hasn't worked:
But with all of this in mind, you may now be thinking, “That’s great, but I've tried this. I've tried the apps, the websites, all of it, and I'm telling you — none of it has worked.”
You've spent so much time and energy chatting with guys that never ask you out, going on dates that never lead anywhere – you genuinely feel like you've done everything you know how to do, but none of it has made a difference. To say you're discouraged is a total understatement.
If that's the case, it might be time to make a change…
At the beginning, I mentioned that twice a year I teach an online course called Love Your Single Life.
Love Your Single Life is a 4-week course where you’ll get to connect with a wonderful community of single women who are seeking to become the very best versions of themselves, live their lives today to the absolute full, and also set themselves up for a great future dating relationship and a wonderful future marriage.
Here are just a few of the things we talk about in the course:
– How to start really enjoying your single life and making the most of every moment
– How to start believing you are who God says you are
– A powerful tool for building confidence (Which also happens to be your dating secret-sauce!)
– How to know if you're ready to be in a relationship
– How to find good, quality men to date (Even when it feels like you’ve run out of options)
– How to be proactive in dating while still being pursued
– How to keep yourself out of the friend-zone
– How to flirt in a way that's totally not awkward or embarrassing
– How to keep yourself from settling for the wrong guy
– What to do with your sex drive when you’re single (because it doesn’t wait to show up until we’re married, right??)
– And so much more!
Friend, you've spent a lot of time trying to figure this out on your own, but if you find yourself consistently running into the same dead end, it might be time to do something different. It might be time to see what can happen when you're NOT doing this on your own!
You can ask for help with your love life! (and that's not a sign of weakness!)
So many of us think we should be able to figure this out on our own—navigating singleness, dating, what to do about that guy we like—everyone else seems to have a handle on it, right?
But that's just not the truth. This is hard for everyone.
We all need help with different areas of our lives (our love lives in particular), whether we reach out for that help or not. But when I was single and dating, I really learned that strength isn't proving that I can do it on my own, it's knowing that I don't have to and surrounding myself with the best people, the best resources, and the best tools possible. Especially for an area of my life that I cared so much about.
So friend, if you feel like you could use some help navigating singleness, dating, and getting yourself ready for marriage, I would be so honored to walk with you through this season and into the next. I would be so honored to have you join us for Love Your Single Life.
With my whole heart, I believe that this course is the very best thing you can do for both your life today, and for your marriage down the road.
(That’s a bold thing to say, right? 👆 But seriously — the things God has done in almost 7,000 women's lives through this course are just incredible!)
Friend, if you could use some help, encouragement, resources, or a plan for this area of your life — I would be so honored to have you join us.
Registration for the course is only open for a few days each year. So make sure to get your name on the waiting list. Here's the link again for where you can check out the course, and you can get your name on the waiting list there too!
You don't have to figure this out alone.
Sending you all my love today, friend.