Setting expectations in dating and relationships

Setting expectations  can be the cause of and solution to all of your dating and relationship problems.  It’s that important.  And it’s just as important in any relationships, including those with your children and your coworkers or clients.

This is even more important if you are stuck in the texting trap.  See the post regarding texting.

Expectations in dating

From the very moment of first contact, when the two parties have decided that they’d like to eventually meet, expectations are created.  Those expectations can vary quite a bit depending on the experiences and personality of the person.

Subjectively, take me for example.  My expectations are that I’d like to talk on the phone and meet as soon as possible.  I’m happy with texting, for a bit, since real life is going on and it’s easier to get in a few conversations between the needs of your kids, and so forth, than just waiting for a phone call.  Others may just have the expectation that we will text up until the actual date.  Well, others are wrong.  🙂

See?  That’s how expectations work – they are usually silent, and when they are not met, the most horrible of things happens: disappointment.

Haven’t you ever heard a kid or a teenager tell you the worst thing that their parents can do?  It’s not them being mad, or angry, or over reacting.  It’s sincere disappointment.

People experience it all the time in their relationships.  And they don’t generally speak up about it, until it’s too late.

And if you are just starting out, you want to put your best foot forward and not mess things up, so you put up with things that your normally wouldn’t because, hey, maybe you’re over reacting?

You aren’t.  You’re right.  And you find that out soon enough.

So what do you do?  Here’s what.

Get your default expectations in sync

Everyone has default expectations for everything.  I mean everything.  It’s part of our Reality Engine.  It’s part of the thing that says, “Hey, gravity makes things fall, that shouldn’t float up!” or “There’s no way that handsome man is looking at me, I must have spaghetti sauce on my face.” or “This is a fancy restaurant so I expect really good service.”

Most people’s expectations about non-relationship things will be in sync, it’s the relationship stuff that won’t be, and the cause of the invisible issues that create the most horrible of emotions.

Some people (me) may expect to talk on the phone before meeting.  Some people (most women) may not want to exchange phone numbers because You Are Probably An Axe Murderer.  That can cause an issue.

Some people may think nothing about texting endlessly (women new to dating) before meeting.  Others may want to text a little and then meet right away, as they know what an incredible waste of time it is if you don’t click.  Plus it takes away a lot of the potential conversation, and creates a false sense of closeness.

So, in the beginning, before you go too far, explain what your simple expectations are, and at the same time offer your flexibility:

  • I hope we can meet right away, and don’t have to endlessly text – here’s my schedule for the next few days
  • I have young children so it’s not easy to talk as I don’t want to talk in front of them – I’ll call you on the way to/from work tomorrow
  • I’m busy most of this week – I’ll make time for you on Friday or Saturday
  • I’m trying to eat healthy recently – I don’t mind what you eat, let’s just not meet where there are no healthy options
  • It’s hard to use my phone at work, as an International Spy – I’m happy to text/talk at night any time though, but will eventually have to kill you, probably during Ravel’s Bolero.

Follow those rules, be aware that both of you have expectations, and ask questions to make sure you are in sync.  The bonus is that not only will things go much smoother, you will potentially find out about incompatibilities much earlier.

As always, tweet your questions @onlyaglance

Online status – why its just as bad as texting

Recently I wrote about how texting is detrimental to relationships, both personal and business.  Here’s some information on why the online status of dating web sites is such a horrible idea.

 

As I said in the Texting article, you can be fooled into thinking you are in a live interaction with another party by texting.  The same is true for dating sites that display the online status.

What is an ‘online status’ anyway?

The online status is simply an indicator that someone is using the web site at the same time you are.  They are, “online” right now.  This is meant to create a sense of interaction and urgency.   Some sites not only show when someone is online, but also show when they were last online, after they have logged off.  So if someone logs in and off at 3pm, and you log in at 5pm, you can see that they were last online a couple hours ago.  You know they were ‘on’ today (and presumably saw emails, etc).  Some people may decide to write to another person simply because they are on line and they could respond more quickly.  Some sites (OKCupid) will tell you in real time if someone is viewing your profile.

Why it is so bad

What’s so bad about an online status anyway?  Well, like the texting, it creates a false sense of interaction and expectation.  If you write to a potential match and see that they have been online, your assumption is that they read your email.  You then further assume that because they have not written you back that they must be ignoring you.  “Why can’t they just say hello back or tell me they’re not interested” you think.  “My email was great and clever” you muse, “They must be a jerk if they can’t see how great I am” you think while grinding your teeth.

Some sites will even offer a “chat” option for those people who are online (OKCupid & POF).  Some sites will actually tell you how many minutes ago the person last logged in (POF).  In fact, those dame sites may offer a chat button for those individuals whom you’ve blocked.  yes, you don’t ever want to see or interact with those creepy people, but hay, maybe you want to drop everything and chat with them?

This functionality increases the bombardment of women by men, and increases the frustration of both parties.

The reality may well be:

  • The person you wrote to just received an email, clicked their phone app to read it and then went about their business.
  • They logged in, and started to read the 50+ messages they have, and haven’t even read yours yet
  • They saw your message, very much liked it, and thought that a proper response could not be written while at a stop light or at work.
  • They read your message and real life interrupted them (children, work, schedule, the light turned green)
  • Their mobile app keeps them logged in, long after they they closed the app – in fact some mobile apps for dating sites intentionally keep the users logged in so that it looks like there are more people on line than there actually are.

 

Wanting to make a good impression, I’m certainly guilty of reading a message and then responding later.

 

How Only A Glance handles this

This was taken into consideration when Only A Glance was created.  It was decided that there simply should not be an online status.  Again using the metaphor of real life interaction at a coffee shop, you would not typically know if your potential match happened to have been there a couple hours ago.  So, you are never shown if someone is online, or when they were online last.  Their personal interaction with the www.onlyaglance.com web site is none of your business and is not shown to you.  The exception is when you are already chatting with them – you’ll be able to see the timestamp of their responses, like an email.

So, no status, no frustration.

 

If you are using one of the other dating sites that show status (I believe all but Only A Glance does) then just try to ignore it.   If you can’t then welcome aboard here. 🙂

Profile Pictures – dos and don’ts

Follow these simple tips about on line dating profile pictures and you can not only enhance your profile but avoid some frustration for potential great matches.

In the olden days of on line dating, people actually read through profiles and met up with people that they did not see a profile picture of, according to my friend who met his wife on line.

But we are visual creatures.  In fact, the one thing that all sites have in common is that they shove a small image of your potential date in front of you and ask you to read a bit further.  In the age of  The Facebook, Pintrest, Google plus, instagram and twitter, we are bombarded with easy access images, in almost unlimited quantity, and usually in a very timely fashion, about lots of wonderful things we couldn’t care less about.

So why do most people’s images suck?  I’ll tell ya what to do and what not to do.

 

Make it simple

When someone is looking for a potential match, they are looking for a person, and in fact most likely due to evolution, a person’s face.  They are not looking for a group of people, a dog, a boat, a motorcycle, or a painting.  When adding profile images ideally you should have a clear image of just you.  Make sure you have at least one clear image of your headshot, preferably in your going-on-a-date kind of attire (or greater).

By the way...Only A Glance allows only one headshot as your main photo, this is used for the glance or avert your eyes method of selection. 

 

What are you doing?

If you are adding images of yourself, do not add fifteen images of you sitting in a dark room, illuminated only by the glare of a monitor, taking head shot after headshot with your web cam.  If you do this you will look:

  • Much less attractive – you really think the dim blue monitor light is enhancing your natural skin tones?
  • Really boring – all you have are self portraits?  Don’t you ever leave?
  • Poor – you don’t own a camera or a nifty iPhone to take clear hi res pics with?
  • Deceptive – are you just a tiny head on a giant body?
  • Lonely – You have no one who could possibly take a pic of you?  What about your kids?  Even the very young would be happy to take a pic of you, a friend, a coworker, some guy you pay a dollar to, that japanese tourist.

Regardless of what you write in your profile, people are going to get an impression of you from your picture – much faster, with more of an emotional hook.

It is very hilarious, ironic and ultimately annoying to read the profile of a self-proclaimed world traveler with hundreds of friends, activities and hobbies who only features the above-mentioned web cam darkened cave shots.  Really?  Skiing in Aspen?  Riding elephants?  Baseball games?  Click.

 

By the way...Only A Glance allows one headshot as your main pic and a private gallery of images later.

 

 

Limit group pictures

As I said people are looking for you.  They are not going to take your group of ten friends to the movies, that would get expensive and we all know that Debbie is the big killjoy who orders way too much food anyway.

Group photos are the favorite images of the social people, especially women.

If you add group photos follow these rules to limit frustration on the viewer:

  • Make sure your caption tells the viewer which one you are, every time.  Don’t assume they get who you are – to them you are one of three blondes, they don’t see that you are the one with the better shoes, or the (duh!) coach bag or more hair than the other guys.
  • Don’t feature too many pictures of you and your gang out for a night of beers – perception is everything so even if these pictures occurred over the course of a year between all your church visits and helping the children and rescuing kittens, they are just going to see a party dude/dudette.
  • Make sure you are featured prominently in at least one of them.  If you’re always the sad head in the background it will look like someone else’s photo and you are just the wall flower.

 

No one is going to date a motorcycle

It is a common mistake of men to feature images of a motorcycle, a car, a dead animal or some other possession that they think is cool. Though there are those out there that are looking for the sports guy/gal, the harley guy/gal, it is a bad idea to do this.  You can mention that you enjoy going for rides, that fishing is a fun hobby and that you do hunt from time to time, but your profile is about you.  If you are not in the image, there should be a really good reason why you are not.  The profile is not the time to play show-and-tell, that is to be saved for the actual relationship.  You went to Cairo?  Great!  Your cat is ever so cute?  Fantastic!  Your kids are funny and got paint all over them?  Awww!

Just don’t put that in your gallery.

You may find it boring, self centered and selfish, but that’s really why the visitor is there – to see you, doing stuff, from different angles.  If you feel like you are on display, you are.  You are on display when you leave your house, it’s just not as obvious as when you make a profile.

 

Children should be seen not heard briefly mentioned.

At a certain age, it becomes very common to be dating and have children.  You love your kids.  You think they are the cutest things in the world, they are a part of you and in fact most of your pics probably feature them standing next to you.

There’s one problem – you shouldn’t show them on line.

If you have to show a pic that has your kids in it, crop them out if possible.  If you can’t crop them then please blur their faces.  It is not fair to them to have their images all over the internet.  Dating sites, with the exception of one, all allow not only members but unregistered visitors (read – search engines!) to view all of the images of someone’s profile.  That’s not good.  Privacy is very important.

Your profile may mention that you have kids – that’s enough.

By the way...Only A Glance guards your privacy by only showing your gallery to those you have already started chatting with.

 

Don’t get creative

With the exception of Google Glass, everyone is walking around seeing things as is – they are not walking around looking at things with a coral border, or in sepia tones or with random flowers sprinkled all over them.

Do not, do not, and I repeat for clarity, do not alter your images in any way.  Some dating sites allow you to “purchase” alterations on your images with the assumption that this makes you more eye catching.  It may, at first, but if you are unattractive to someone without alterations, then you are going to be unattractive AND annoying if they clicked on a thumbnail only to see that it is a tacky alteration.

If you alter your images it will look like:

  • You have an awful lot of time to putz with your profile pictures
  • You think you’re really attractive (thinking you are really attractive only works for the .2% of people who are really really attractive)
  • You are a really tacky person with no style
  • You spend too much time/money on a dating site.

The only exception: a black and white photo or two.

By the way...You can’t alter your images on Only A Glance, no special backgrounds.  There are no things to ‘purchase’ since the entire site is free.

 

 

I sing the body electric

This is a subject that is a complete no brainer for some, and for others it is a huge problem – full body profile pictures.  There are those that, in the course of selecting images, automatically include some or all full body images.  It just seems natural, standing in front of a big gate, at a party, etc.  Then there are the almost macabre images – the Disembodied Heads!  Muh hahahaha!  Picture after picture is just a head, no points of reference, you can barely figure out the setting. People do this for two reasons, neither of which is good:

  1. They just don’t know any better.  They figure you just want a picture of their face, so they take a quick pic with their web cam (see bad web cam photos no-no above) or their phone.  That’s an easy fix.  
  2. They are less than confident about their appearance.  In the case of women, where it is most common, they do not feel comfortable with their weight.  In the less common case with men, they don’t like being the shortest guy in the pic, so they crop everything out.

Trying to sell people your head when it’s just gonna bring that schlumpy body along simply does not work.  People will eventually have to see the rest of you.  In the case of real life encounters, people will see all of you at the same time.

So how do you address point #2?  Well, it is a question of liking yourself.  If you don’t like your weight, perhaps more time focused on yourself and less time on dating sites makes sense?  Or perhaps it is only a matter of confidence.  Try it.  Try some full body profile images and see what happens.  You may be pleasantly surprised!

Granted, on some dating sites you may risk the occasional less than kind off the cuff message, but the alternative simply doesn’t work.

 

By the way...Only A Glance does not allow anyone to write to you unless both parties agree to communication.  You can never receive an initial rude or inappropriate message.

 

 

Cropping, Rings, Shrek Arms and overly friendly friends

Finally, try to limit the images with a big giant hairy Shrek-like arm from your previous boyfriend/husband, or any body parts from your old flames.  Make sure your photos are not so old they still have you wearing a wedding ring (you’re not STILL married, are you??).  If you have a pal of the opposite sex and they are in 50% of your pics with their face up against yours looking a little too happy and or drunk, it will send the following message : I have issues with my friend, I really want to be with them, or, I have actually been with them and will continue to do so, so there.

That’s probably (hopefully) not true, so just avoid the perception.

 

I understand that some of this seems like a lot of work.  Its not really, it’s just fairly intelligent and upfront choice of images, while still maintaining your anonymity.  Good luck!

Texting

Well all do it.  Again and again, until we’re spent.  I even do it with my clients.

Texting.  It’s the one truly unique technology that we deal with now.  Emails, video calls, on line chatting –  none of them carry the unique properties of phone texting.

Why texting is horrible for relationships

Texting carries with it an assumed urgency and presence.  When you send and receive a text, you assume the person on the other end is ‘there, right now.’  They may not be.  They may have sent you a text at a stoplight, or just before putting their phone away, or may have just gotten into a conversation with people who are physically with them.  There are many reasons why they may not be available.   The problem is, you don’t know that.

You will assume you are “in a conversation.”

When you are in an email conversation, you don’t really have an expectation of when the person is responding – beyond the obvious.  It’s an email, after all.  When you are in a telephone conversation, you know they are there with you, you can hear them, and you can even hear their environment.

Texting combines the worst of dynamic communications like face-to-face talking/phone calls, with the static communications of emails and post it notes and carrier pigeons.

You can be in a back and forth with texting, and even a delay of a few minutes can cause a party to believe the other person is thinking, upset, unimportant or composing some horrible response.  The iPhone soothes that a tiny bit with the icon that pops up showing the other person is typing, but that still has limited effect.

Add to that the fact that the keyboard on a phone (virtual or physical) will naturally limit your responses, thus making it even easier to be misinterpreted.

Don’t forget autocorrect – making even the most sensible of responses sound insane, or sexual.

What’s the solution?  Limit the use of texting with those you are getting to know, or business transactions that can be followed up with a phone call.

If at all possible, call.  If it looks like there’s a chance for misinterpretation  or you are on delicate grounds – call.  In fact, just call.

 

Don’t forget the immortal words of Oscar Madison:

You leave me little notes on my pillow. Told you 158 times I can’t stand little notes on my pillow. “We’re all out of cornflakes. F.U.” Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!