At first, I was extremely skeptical and very much against the idea of online dating.
I had been single for more than four years. (After a hard breakup and getting serious about school, I wasn't trying to jump back into another relationship anytime soon.)
After graduating and getting a job, I got tired of the club scene, so in the fall of 2014, I decided to try this online dating thing.
I had friends who were on Tinder and OkCupid, which made me feel way behind as far as experience in relationships go.
I'm actually not ashamed to say that by 2015, I had accounts on Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid and SoulSwipe.
Going on dates wasn't easy since I had my guard up. Naturally, I closed myself off for so long that it was extremely hard to open up.
You can imagine how many fuckboys I encountered within seconds of my initial download of the apps, but that didn't stop me. I was determined to get out there, but I knew I had to be somewhat strategic if I was going to be successful.
Then, I read Aziz Ansari's "Modern Romance," and I decided to try this dating thing as a sort of social experiment.
Aziz points out throughout the book that those text bubbles and screenshots are people too, and instead of getting caught up in ideals, it's worth giving a guy a chance (or two).
I was determined to do just that.
People deserve a fair chance, and nobody is perfect. These are the facts, and this is how I viewed online dating.
I wanted to give these guys a chance and not just write them off because they had never seen classic movies like "Sixteen Candles" or "The Breakfast Club" (serious deal-breakers for me).
I figured if his messages were cool, within appropriate comfort levels and he was cute, I'd give him a shot. I wanted to at least see where the first dates would land me.
One key game changer is this: After creating an account on Bumble, I got comfortable messaging guys and making the first move. The ball was completely in my court.
Later, I found out that was actually one of the main appeals that caught my boyfriend's eye.
I was never the type to actively pursue guys, and I have a history of pushing people away once they get too close. But here I am, currently going strong in an eight-month relationship, and things are pretty great.
So, here are the steps I took to end the judgment and be open to anything while online dating:
1. Be vulnerable.
Here's the thing: Unless you're ready to date, online dating isn't going to work or go well for you. Have you ever head of the saying, “Be who you're looking for”?
Well, if you want to be treated right or with respect, then you have to treat others in that exact way and be willing to compromise or meet someone halfway. You have to be willing to let your guard down and open up.
Our generation tends to think "catching feelings" is weak and that putting yourself out there is a huge mistake, but doing exactly that is the only way you'll be able to decipher a genuine connection versus just a hookup.
If you're messaging a guy and he says "Pineapple Express" is a classic and "The Breakfast Club" is pure '80s BS, then don't write him off. He's entitled to his beliefs, and just because you don't have the same taste in movies, it's not the end of the world.
Try not to get offended by some of the crazy shit guys say these days. Again, those are the ones you probably don't want to date in the first place. Gentleman are still out there and behave accordingly.
And like I said, don't just cut someone off because they don't watch "Game of Thrones" or like listening to Fifth Harmony. To each is his own, and you're not going to find someone by constantly writing people off and making excuses for your pickiness or your inability to open up.
2. Meet in person.
This is essential. Things can quickly become a “situationship” or just a "text buddies" type of thing if you never actually meet in real life.
So, do NOT judge someone based off his or her text messages. Try your best not to even judge at all until you meet up and see what happens.
But until you actually meet the person behind the screen without your phone, you'll never really know whom you're dealing with. I actually found it easier to meet up with guys with little texting versus guys I had texted for longer periods of time because there was more to lose.
If I met up with a guy in person sooner rather than later, I wasn't as disappointed if we never made it to a second date.
Once you match and consistently text someone for about a week, meeting up in person is already long overdue. And the longer you wait, the less you'll want to test if you and this person actually have organic chemistry.
This goes back to being vulnerable. Don't let your worries or fears of rejection stop you from a potentially good thing.
My now-boyfriend's first text message was a screenshot of a Dragon Ball Z poster he has hanging up in his kitchen. At first glance, I thought, "You gotta be kidding me." I even took a screenshot and sent it to a group chat of friends.
We laughed, but off a whim, I decided to text him back and then we met. The rest is history.
My point is, again, don't write someone off too quickly. Don't judge.
3. Don't reach a verdict until the third date.
Here's the other thing: Chances are. it's hard to determine whether or not anyone is substantial boyfriend or girlfriend material until you get to know them, which means giving things time to develop and having more than just a first date. (Again, if you're just down to hook up, then by all means do your thang. But if you want a change of pace, please listen.)
People tend to be nervous or guarded, especially when meeting up with a "stranger" for the first time. The stakes are even higher if you've been texting for weeks.
Also, please be advised that a proper date is the kind where people go outdoors in public to participate in some sort of activity, whether that's eating, drinking, bowling, hiking, whatever. It has to be a verb, and no, Netflix and chill DOES NOT count.
You'll thank me after you've been on at least three formal dates.
Why? By the third date, people tend to let their guards down, and you tend to pick up on some subconscious habits people tend to have like how they walk or chew their food.
I always made it a point to not decide if I want to continue with a guy after the third date. By the third date. feel free to cut your losses if the person you've been seeing isn't up to par or if there just isn't a spark.
Good luck with online dating. There seems to be a ton of new dating apps out there, so start swiping.