Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

"You will have to bear with me; it has been a VERY LONG time since I dated. I was widowed a few years ago and only recently became interested in dating. I tried a few times in the past several months, and I found some shall I say..."unique"...individuals. I'm still old school, and all these new dating protocols have me mixed up beyond belief. I was wondering if your app offers any ideas regarding the type of dating you offer. The Do's and Dont's, so to speak. I already had my hopes dashed using other apps because there were again protocols I wasn't aware of: how to introduce yourself, what to say in an initial meeting, and what NOT to say. I was even told to leave off that I am widowed because it makes me look desperate. If you could offer any tips for someone just getting back into dating, that would be great. My lack of success so far has me seriously gun-shy.

Thank you in advance for any response you might have."

Signed, New To The Market

Dear New To The Market,

First, let me say that you might feel like you’re royally messing up dating, but your heart is in the right place. The fact you’re asking for advice and want to do better puts you leagues ahead of the average dater. Most people wing it and hope for the best. But people who put a little intention behind dating tend to be more successful.

So let’s talk about—like you mentioned—the Dos and Dont's of using iris.

We’ll start with what to put in your profile because many people get this part wrong. They think they have to write what will appeal to everyone, but that’s not going to lead to finding the best matches. You need two things for a great dating profile: honesty and personality.

Suppose you have a quirky hobby, like going to comic book conventions. You should state that. The point of dating isn’t to be a watered-down version of yourself; it’s to find people who appreciate who you are. Someone who would think comic book conventions are cool, not nerdy. The more personality you can add to your profile, the higher your chances are of finding someone who’s a great match for you.

As for whether or not to add in that you’re a widow, the choice is up to you. If it feels like something you only want to bring up to select people you’ve gotten to know, you might choose to mention it on the second or third date. But if you’re focused on finding the kind of person who won’t be overwhelmed by that fact, then include it in your bio. Forget what the other apps said; that doesn’t make you desperate. It makes you honest.

You also mentioned not knowing what to say and what not to say on a date. This part of dating also comes down to honesty. If you want to share something with the other person and feel comfortable doing so, then by all means, share it. If you’re stuck, some great first date topics are your passions, hobbies, dreams, and favorite memories. You can even talk about what your intentions are on the app, so you know if you’re on the same page as the other person.

If someone reacts poorly to you sharing what makes you happy or that you’re dating to find a serious relationship, then you’re better off without them. Don’t try molding yourself to make other people happy. Be authentically you and wait until someone appreciates that.

With all that said, it’s important to remember that dating nowadays is very much a numbers game. You’re going to date a lot of wrongs to find someone right. Don’t let those wrong dates get you down or make you feel bad about yourself. Rejection is part of the process.

If you go into dating knowing that it will take time, and you’re honest about who you are and what you want, you’re going to be better off. Ignore advice that talks about playing games; you can find someone out there who isn’t interested in that stuff. Be clear on what qualities you want in a partner and let those guide you. Don’t let the fear of people ghosting or rejecting you hold you back from finding the relationship you want.

I know it feels scary, but you got this.

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