Expectations are a funny thing. Sometimes you end up in situations where you have no idea about reasonable expectations.
Take the UK Dating Awards, for example. I’ve spent my summer setting up the Dating Industry Awards from scratch. It’s the first time I’ve ever set up a company or organised a national event, and I genuinely had no clue where to set my sights. As someone completely new to business, I didn’t know where to set my forecasts or my aims. If the event doesn’t make a profit, does that make it a failure? Should I not run it again?
And then I spoke to friends with more business experience. The more knowledgeable people I spoke to, the more I understood where my expectations should be. Apparently most start-ups make a loss in their first year. Some take up to three years to break even, let alone turn a profit.
And just like that, I relaxed. Sometimes you just need someone to give you the reassurance that you haven’t failed. Someone who actually understands the bigger picture!
The same can be said about online dating.
I remember the first time I ever signed up to a paid dating site. It was eHarmony, maybe three years ago. As I signed up to the site, one of the first things it asked me was how long I wanted my subscription to last. 3 months, 6 months, a year? The longer you signed up for, the better value the membership. But I had seen signing up to a website as a big enough failing. Back then, I saw resorting to online dating as admitting that I couldn’t find someone out in the real world. Surely if I must be able to find someone within 3 months? Any more than that, and I’d have failed again?
Three years on, and thanks to this blog and the Awards, I’ve been a member of more online dating sites and apps than I can remember.
My entire attitude to online dating has changed along the way – these days I just see it as an opportunity to cast my net a bit wider. To meet exactly the same guys I’d love to come across in a bar, but in a venue where I can chat more easily with them, and in my own time.
The more I’ve dated online, the more I’ve come to understand dos and don’ts (some of which will be published in tomorrow’s Guardian!)
So, how long should you sign up for an online dating site?
No more than 3 months.
NOT because I think everyone is going to meet someone in 3 months, and you’ve failed if you haven’t …. far from it!
Do you like the site?
But sign up for 1-3 months so that you can actually work out whether you like the site or not. Free trials are great, but you don’t get the full view of all the website’s features. Choose the shortest option to start – even if that comes out more expensive for that one month. One month at £50 is still far cheaper than 12 at £30, if it turns out the site is not for you!
Do you want to use other sites?
It also important to only commit to a short time, because most people end up using other sites. Even if you like a site, you may want to extend your options, and see who’s using other sites. Paying for more than one paid site at a time can be pretty costly.
Are you going to get bored?
Trust me, even dating bloggers get dating fatigue! Yes, dating can be really fun and exciting, but it can also be pretty draining, particularly if you’re putting a lot of effort into it. Signing up for a 3 month contract means you can give yourself a break from it if you haven’t met someone in those first 3 months, and not feel guilty about not logging in for a little while.
How long will it take?
The honest answer is that it differs for everyone. A friend from school contacted me recently to tell me she only signed up to a specific online dating site because she saw a profile of a guy and really like the look of him. They’ve just celebrated their 1 year anniversary.
Hopefully, that gives you some reassurance, from someone who has come to understand the wider dating picture! Some things take time – like setting up your own business! But the rewards are there in the end. It’s the same with dating. Sometimes it can be draining, and you’ll wonder why you’re bothering … and then one day someone will come into your life, and change it forever.
So stick it out and don’t panic … but take it 3 months at a time! 😉 (Ooh … and remember to switch off auto-renewal!)
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx