Dear Wanda and Wayne,
I'm pretty new to the online dating scene and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. I've been on for just about two weeks now and I've met some interesting women. I really want to find a long-term partner out of this -- I'm in my mid-30s and have never married, but I've dated many women over the years and I've always been a one-woman guy. I guess I'm just old-fashioned with respect to the process of getting to know someone and investing in them personally and romantically. So the whole idea of meeting and genuinely getting to know (and, technically, dating) numerous people at the same time is exhausting for me. It has me questioning my ethics at times that I'm talking to more than one woman, even though I know I'm not the only guy they're meeting and dating. But I know I'm limiting my opportunities to find a partner if I don't meet as many women as possible and then go on dates when the chemistry is there. Anyway, I'm just a little lost here. I guess I need a pep talk or clarity on how to proceed. Thanks.
-- Clueless Clicker
Awww -- how adorable is he? Wanda and millions of women are so used to dealing with bros, dudes and players lurking online and in bars with their terrible game and grammar and their openly sexual ambitions. And then along comes a good old-fashioned genuine man just looking for love. Buddy, you should have left your email address with us -- your inbox would be filled up in a heartbeat.
Then again, that might be too much for you! Really, this experience is all about what you can handle. I know it's a sea of beautiful faces and interesting backgrounds and endless opportunities out there. And I know you're focused on finding a partner, which can add stress and pressure. And I know there's a lot of emails and coffee meetings before you know if you should even go on a real date with any of these women. Yeah, exhausting!
But this is your journey and you have to be true to your heart and what you can handle. If juggling texts and emails and phone calls and dinner dates with three or four women is too much, slow your roll. You've gone this long without a partner -- why not be slow and intentional with this process so you can feel comfortable and shine when you do meet a real match?
There are many ways to meet a mate, among them blind dates, not-so-subtle setups, trolling bars, scouting gym crowds and lurking longingly in grocery stores. Online dating is simply another option that may or may not work for you. It's time-consuming. Success can require wading through winks, nods, nudges, fanning and favoriting to find what you are looking for.
The pros? A sexy stranger you see across the room is full of mystery. Is she single? Employed? Does she smoke? Or enjoy foreign films? Online dating breaks this down right away so you can scan the digitalized masses and sort maybes from no-ways. Sure, not everyone is truthful or there for the right reasons. But the goal is to eventually meet someone, so most play it straight. This all requires a degree of up-front vulnerability. You typically share information through your profile and emails that in the "real world" might take several dates to get to. Some people can't move this fast.
If you can, though, online dating can certainly speed things up. Here's some more advice. Define deal-breakers and stick to them. Be choosy. It's OK to ignore people who don't interest you. Really, polite declines waste time. And about time: Set a time limit to spend online every day. Use it wisely. Finally, chemistry is a funny, special thing. It's there or it isn't. If it isn't, move forward. Don't waste anyone's time. If it is there, go for it.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at email@example.com.