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 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. 🙂

Chatting with potential dates – tips for better chatting

Once you’ve both decided it is a good idea to chat, you can start chatting on

Like everything on, chatting is a means to an end, that end being meeting a potential mate and seeing if there is chemistry there.

Remember these simple tips…

Be polite
When chatting on line, always treat the potential date with respect, and kindness.  That’s another human being on the other end, with feelings and emotions.  The golden rule applies here.

Be clear
Text sucks for conveying emotion.  Simple, harmless fun in text or chat can come across as snarkiness and cruelty.  Your humor may be awesome as far as you are concerned, but it just may not translate well across text, especially to someone who has yet to ‘get’ you.

Don’t just go for it
Expect some back and forth first.  Some people want to see how good you are at bantering.  Once they are comfortable you can then ask to meet for coffee, etc.

Don’t use AOLspeak
Meaning, don’t use texting slang when communicating.  Don’t use “U” instead of “you.”  It may not bother some people, but it’s best not to risk it.  Better to at least give the impression you are not a knuckle dragger, in chat, at least.

Remember the escape hatch
On onlyaglance you can always choose to lose interest in a person, even after you’ve been chatting.  This can be useful for someone who has suddenly become vulgar, or just wasn’t who you thought they were.  Or, the original reason for this, they’re just not being responsive.

Messaging is not real time
As with any form of communication other than in person and a phone call, messaging is not real time.  Texts may seem like real time, and some chats may seem like that as well, but they are not.  So, don’t fall into the trap of worrying about a delay that you perceive.   Treat each chat on as an email – make it worthwhile to read.

About Only A Glance

Only A Glance is a dating site that isn’t really a dating site.  Instead, it’s a real life simulator, in that it simulates the chance meeting of people in a coffee shop, a grocery store, etc.

Only A Glance is built as a tool, vs. a playground for pen pals.  You use it like you’d use any tool, to get a job done.  The job in question here is finding someone, period.  The site assumes you know what you are doing, that millions of years of evolution are better than a series of questions.  The site understands that the only thing it can do is show you pictures of people and let you decide, quickly, efficiently and irrevocably.