Love, Self

5 Surprising Lessons I Learned From Online Dating

Photo: Logan Weaver 
5 Surprising Love Lessons I Learned From Online Dating Apps

If you are single, have a pulse, and are at least 18, you have probably tried online dating. I know I have surprising results. I have met great people, weird people, and everyone in between.

I have been lied to, stood up. I have been passed on, insulted. I have been fooled, dodged. I have also found love.

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The experience that most changed me was a woman I chatted with for a few days — we shared pictures, we swapped stories, all was good. We agreed to have lunch. I was excited, she was beautiful and we had great conversations.

I show up at the restaurant and I am looking everywhere for her. I go outside. I look under tables. I go back outside. Nowhere. Just as I am ready to call it a day with my tail between my legs I feel a tug on my sleeve.

It was her. Only it was her 20 years older. The pictures she shared were her own — but they were from at least 20 years ago. She was in the restaurant the whole time, I never saw her. My first instinct was to run, instead, I felt empathy for her. She is just like all of us. Trying to find a connection. Searching for love. Seeking adoration. We had lunch and I never saw her again. I hope she found what she was looking for.

This experience allowed me to reflect and these are the lessons I learned during my tries at online dating:

1. Rejection is good.

That's right. I said it. I'm here to represent it. Rejection forced me to self-reflect, and I was able to grasp what I wanted.

I think that I am a pretty good looking guy, so being rejected was something that I didn’t understand. However, there is a slew of handsome guys out there. Being rejected allowed me to face this and changed the way I see myself, for the better.

Look at rejection as a way to better yourself. Sometimes bettering yourself means putting yourself down a peg. Or two.

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2. It's not all about me.

I had this idea that I should be desirable for everyone. Of course, this is ludicrous. Not even Brad Pitt is on everyone's Top 5 list. Letting go of this notion made me recognize my faults and strengths.

Similar to the first lesson. Many of us are shocked when we are passed on, myself included. This lesson was the hardest because it involved me swallowing my pride and accepting the fact that I need to grow up. Having this mindset changed my way of thinking and makes me appreciate my faults and strengths. Now, I can be a better person. Unbeknownst to me, made me more desirable. I know, right?

3. Communication is key.

I noticed I started to be successful at online dating when I started communicating more thoughtfully. As a result, it gave me a better sense of who I was attracted to since I was not going to take the time to write to just anyone.

I was frustrated. I was sending messages and getting no reply. In all fairness, my messages consisted of boring greetings and equally boring platitudes. One day, as I was scrolling through I, ran across a profile. Beautiful woman. I click and I start to read.

She says that she gets hundreds of messages a day. It hit me. I need to be more thoughtful in my communication. She’s getting hundreds of messages a day, I guarantee 90 percent of those are boring greetings and equally boring platitudes. I took the time to write a nice, personal, funny message and she responded. We went out a few times.

The bonus benefit of this is I started to be more selective for myself. This is an important step, especially in online dating. I used to message pretty much anyone I thought was attractive, and it showed. Boring. Dross. When I became more selective I felt like I stood a chance. And did.

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4. Don't take yourself so seriously.

My favorite experience. I learned to let my guard down and stop being so uptight. No one's perfect and never will be. Have fun. Stay in the present.

I have always enjoyed making others laugh. My sense of humor can be a little dark sometimes so I’ve always steered away from the comedic side of my personality. When I was online dating I was always impressed by what I think women wanted to hear.

Unfortunately, I thought that meant to put on an act. I was doing a disservice to everyone, including myself. I challenge you. Go to your preferred dating app and pick five profiles. I guarantee three of them (at least) put a sense of humor high on the desirable list.

My point: let your guard down, have fun, be in the moment. If he/she/whoever doesn’t appreciate it then do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate you or you? No.

5. Don’t take things so personally.

We live in a time where we all have many options (almost too many). Many online daters are always seeking the next best thing. He’s not tall enough. She’s too tall. He’s too this. She’s too that. So on and so on. I know I have been guilty of this myself. Being too picky.

Realizing that there are so many people in the dating pool was a relief. It freed me up to be myself and not take things so personally. To be the funny, caring, humble, thoughtful guy that I am. It did me good. I met my wife online. We just had our fourth wedding anniversary.

It’s funny how many lessons I learned from this adventure. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would’ve learned so much about myself going down this path.

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Mikal Reinke is a writer who covers pop culture, astrology, and relationship topics.