Madison Marriage and Family Therapy

Madison Marriage and Family Therapy provides therapy for individualscouples and families in Midtown, Manhattan. By looking into past and present relationships, we work to develop new patterns and capacities with our clients to allow them more fulfilling relationships.

We are a community of engaged and thoughtful, systemically trained practitioners. At Madison Marriage and Family Therapy we practice indepth psychotherapy that incorporates systemic, relational, contemplative and psychodynamic therapy.

Tips for Online Dating

As much as we hate it, online dating is part of our norm now.  During 2009, 22% of heterosexual couples met their significant others online.  This means even more than that have used or are still using online dating.

You probably have dabbled with it.  Maybe you are part of that 22%--which may be higher now in 2015.  You probably also have experience or know others who down right hate it.  

Online dating requires a lot of patience.  The initial nonverbal cues, that we thrive, is not available until we meet.  The verbal intonations are absent until that first phone call.  And now-a-days too many relationships avoid phone calls until that first meeting.  Instead people reach for that electronic device to text, email or chat.  

These modes of communication are great for something quick.  However,  if you are trying to get to know someone move it to the phone.  Individuals are frequently left frustrated and disheartened when communication is through text.  It is a distance-er. 

Online dating is still young enough where those in our mid 30's and up recall thinking it's just for sexual predators or hookups.  However, it has developed from those early days.  Even in those days, people still managed to find that someone special online.  

So while we are entering this journey a little bit more blind, here are some tips to take with you:

Don't Filter TOO Much

People have a tendency to filter too much, based on their opinions of what they want.  We can be pretty particular.  However, if our singlehood   has anything to teach us it is that we are STILL not quite certain what we want.  We know some basic core qualities, but that can't be met by eliminating certain heights or hair color.  I recommend for dating, know the person you would like to date:

  • How kind or generous would you like them to be?  
  • How do they interact with their family?  People say their family is important, but then you witness how they talk about their family that may impact you.  
  • Do you enjoy their sense of humor? 
  • Do you have the same moral code? 

These questions are rarely adequately met in one date, let alone an online profile. 

Online dating is a way to meet people we would have never had a chance to meet.  Online introductions, is really what they are.  

There is no algorithm that can really help you meet the right person, but OKCupid has found success with those random questions like, "Do you like horror films." or "Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?"  These questions while seemingly silly, help highlight something deeper about our personality.  It is a way for the site to calculate aspects of our core self and match it with others.

How to Take that Perfect Picture

We struggle with online dating sites around writing those awkward profiles and finding the best picture to use.  So what have the various sites learned from our activity.  

In a recent article from the New York Times, Christian Rudder, Co-Founder of OKCupid, is quoted as saying: "people appear to be heavily preselecting online for something that, once they sit down in person doesn't seem important to them."  Online looks mattered, but in person less so.

It also seems that while most of us like to think we are moderns OKCupid has found that women who display cleavage and flirt with the camera were more successful.  While men who do not smile and cuddled with animals, faired better than those who smiled.  

While I am disappointed with these findings, they biologically make sense. We would love to know we are able to escape from these root instincts, but it's not so easy.  Men and women still are attracted to other based on sexual instincts.  Men are asked to be less emotional ready to kill for dinner, while at the same time gentle enough to nurture their babies.  Women must be able to physically and emotionally provide for those babies.  While we don't consciously think of it, this quick analysis is part of who we deem attractive or not.  

Overall, do what is comfortable.  I'm not recommending ladies to go out and take cleavage friendly shots.  I also am not recommending men to take an odd emotionally conflicted picture.  I do not support objectification or emotionally stunting our amazing men and women.  Luckily, neither do you.  Since when it comes down to it, this is surface.  Who you will end up choosing has little to do with these photos.

This initial attraction never guaranties a successful relationship.  

Try Three Dates Instead of One

People are normally excited to know they have many options, but when actually faced with making a decision it can be overwhelming.  Instead of taking time exploring one option at a time, we walk too quickly with no decision made.  

This may be part of the reason why Khalid Khan and Dr. Sameer Chaudhry found that people whose screen names started with the first half of the alphabet got better responses.  This has such a strong effect, it was almost as successful as having an attractive photo.  

Either way, we are on overload.  There are so many options that people make dates and cancel others.  They may go on one date, have a decent but not awesome time, and not go on another date again.  Psychologists, Paul Eastwick and Lucy Hunt, found that few people built romantic relationships on first impressions.  Instead they fall for each other unexpectedly over periods of time.  

As Aziz Ansari, put it in his latest NYT's article: 

Think about it in terms of pop music. When a new song featuring Drake comes on the radio, you’re like, “What is this song? Oh another Drake song. Big deal. Heard this before. Next please!” Then you keep hearing it and you think, “Oh Drake, you’ve done it again!”

In a way, we are all like that Drake song: The more time you spend with us, the more likely we are to get stuck in your head.

Mr. Ansari instead has a rather fun and experimental suggestion "The Monster Truck Rally Theory of Dating": Don't sit at a table doing a resume exchange over dinner or drinks, instead be adventurous.  See where this new, fun, and challenging activity takes you.

If you think doing something new and adventurous on the first date is more anxiety producing than productive, then listen to your instincts.  Instead remember to try multiple dates instead of one.  

The three date rule is one that I have long recommended to clients.  Sometimes we can know in the first date, but most of the time we need at least two or three meetings.  If you are worried about all the fish in the sea, make sure to give yourself this time.  You may end up dating fish too long if you are not time savvy. 

Learn from Each Date 

Each date has something to offer us.  We can learn about how repelling we are.  More likely, we will learn what we didn't like about that person we dated.  Use that information to guide you on future dates.  

While it's not super romantic, learning lessons from past relationships helps us grow rather than remaining stagnant.  Each relationship is a unique experiment.   

For instance, if we always find ourselves attracted to individuals who are a tad too controlling and distant, try a new experiment with someone who is a little more warm.  A person who is willing to let your values and opinions stand equal to theirs.  

We also have a tendency to bounce between extremes.  Instead gradually make these changes. This way instead of being repelled you will be satisfied.  

Most of all have fun.  You know quickly what repels and attracts you.  Listen to your instincts.  

Madison Marriage and Family Therapy  |  271 Madison Ave., Ste. 1400, New York, NY 10016
info@madisonmft.com  |  646-205-7606  |  © Madison MFT 2014