When it comes to online dating advice or assistance of any kind on the dating front, Millennials and generation Z-ers have always turned to the Internet over asking a confidant(e), or even a close friend or family member. The fact that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z-ers (born in 1997 or later) all had access to the Internet from their teen years has led them to be highly dependent on online information. In fact, millennials were probably the first generation ever to hook up and break up through instant messaging! With app-based dating being a popular way to meet potential partners, it’s imperative that you get the best online dating advice if you want that first date to be the beginning of something beautiful.
Why? The Numbers behind Online Dating
To validate the assumption that online dating is a popular method of meeting up with someone, we looked at some studies and surveys around this. Here’s what we found:
- 48% of younger millennials and Gen Z-ers have used a dating app or website at least once
- Within this group, 55% of LGB individuals said that they have used an online dating portal
- Nearly 60% of those who have engaged in online dating said they had a positive experience
- Education seems to matter, too: 63% of college graduates have had positive experiences, against 47% for those with a high school diploma or less
- 71% of online dating service users said they found someone they were physically attracted to, while 64% found someone with similar interests and hobbies
That’s a great starting point because it’s clear that online dating works. But the bulk of online dating advice and online relationship advice on the Internet only focuses on the digital aspects and preparing for the first date itself. In sharp contrast, we believe that online dating is no different from regular dating. The modalities of communication and early-stage aspects might differ but the relationship part is essentially the same. That’s why the core values of a healthy relationship will apply here as much as in the non-digital realm. This is not online dating advice to help you create a great profile or what to say on your first date. This piece looks at what to do beyond that first date.
Online Dating Advice from a ‘Core Values’ Perspective
So, what are the core values of any strong and healthy relationship? Let’s list and discuss them:
These are the foundations of every mature and growing relationship. Whether the relationship starting with online dating or physically asking someone out, these values need to be at the heart of it if you want to take things to any serious level.
Above all else, there has to be the initial attraction for you to want to take it forward. And it has to be mutual, else you end up with a lopsided relationship that’s not healthy for either of you. The attraction, though usually so, doesn’t need to be merely physical. Look for a connection that goes deeper than that. It could be hobbies or interests that you share or things you both dislike. What matters is making the connection. This is what sets the foundation to build all the other values into your relationship.
This foundation is not optional, by the way. There’s really no way that trust, respect, love, and freedom can be yours in a relationship if this first cornerstone called attraction is not in place. Too many relationships end up in breakups and divorce because there was no lasting attraction. Physical attraction wanes quickly, as does any kind of connection based on initial impressions. Unless it goes deeper than that, it’s probably not a good idea to keep going down that road. That might sound harsh, but it’s better to break something off during the early stages than be led on to what will most likely be a bitter end.
But if you have that basic attraction as a solid platform, you can build a fantastic relationship with that person. Remember that this is online dating advice as much as it is a word to the wise on all forms of relationship. In fact, it probably applies more to online dating because face-to-face contact is removed from the equation in the early stages. Therefore, it is easier to find levels of connection before you even meet.
The next stage of a healthy relationship is trust. Like attraction, there needs to be a level of trust for you to take things forward. It doesn’t matter if it starts small; in fact, it probably should. Here are some tips on building trust quickly in a relationship:
- Keep your word in small things, like being on time for a date or calling at the agreed time
- Earn trust without expecting the other person to do the same; they eventually will, but it can’t be forced
- Never say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’; learn to say ‘no’ even if the other person is disappointed
- Engage in active listening, with lots of eye contact
- It’s okay to bare your emotions; it shows the other person that you trust them with your innermost feelings
- Live up to the values you talk about, such as honesty or straightforwardness
- Disagree with respect; you can’t agree on everything, obviously, but never be dismissive or belittling
Trust is important in any kind of interaction, not just in relationships. For instance, as a customer, you need to trust the salesperson if you’re going to take their advice to make a purchase decision. In traffic, we need to trust that a red light will make cars stop. We constantly trust restaurants to give us food that’s not gone bad. Trust is integral to our society in many ways, and it is even more important in a relationship.
A relationship without attraction and trust can’t be called a real relationship. We see this type of thing constantly at work. You don’t like your boss and you don’t trust her; well, the feeling may well be mutual. When a boss-worker relationship doesn’t have some level of likeability and trust, the job may still get done but it won’t be the best that you or your boss can deliver. In addition, it will foster a kind of animosity that can only end badly for you in the long run. Granted, not many people love their bosses, but unless they have something that attracts you to them and encourages you to trust them, things won’t go to the next level, which is respect. Just like in the workplace, respect is the next foundational aspect of a healthy relationship.
Whether it’s a good piece of online dating advice or general advice to someone starting out on a new relationship journey, respect for others should come naturally. But respect can only come if you first have the foundation of attraction and trust to plant your feet on. In this context, we’re not talking about a generic or vague kind of respect that you should have for all human beings and living creatures. It’s very specific to that person, and this can only happen if the first two cornerstones are in place.
Once there is attraction and a level of trust has been built between the two of you, it’s easy to add the ‘respect’ element. So, what does it mean to respect someone? Let’s dive into that a little bit.
Respect is at the very heart of human civilization. Respect for life, respect for property, respect for the law, respect for authority, etc. are central to any civilized society. In many ways, respect helps us draw the line between right and wrong. And such is the case with relationships, too.
In any interpersonal relationship, respect is essentially a hat tip to the fact that the other person is a living, breathing individual worthy of being acknowledged on their own merits. Respect is shown in many ways: through active listening, speaking openly, confiding in the other person, giving them space, valuing their opinions, talking about them positively to others, and so on.
This foundation of respect also means not taking each other for granted. This often happens in mature relationships and is a major pitfall. And it can creep up in subtle ways with the simple assumptions and judgments we make about a person. It might start out innocently enough, with an ‘Oh, he won’t mind that’ or ‘she’d be cool with that’; but it can begin to undermine and erode the trust that you’ve built between each other. It can also hurt you in far more negative ways if it becomes the cause of resentment.
In an online dating scenario, whether it continues as an exclusively digital or long-distance relationship or you take it to the physical stage, you’re equally susceptible to a lack of mutual respect slowly destroying any effort you put into making the relationship stronger.
Now that the three crucial building blocks of any relationship are in place, you can finally get to the fun part!
Attraction is not the same as love and neither are trust or respect. Although all three elements are contained in the concept of love, it’s a lot more than that. Love takes you into deeper realms of sacrifice and selflessness. It makes you want to be a better person for the sake of your relationship. Love is almost impossible to define but equally impossible not to recognize. It is this innate contradictory nature of love that has fascinated mankind for millennia.
We’re not here to try and define what love means. That’s the beauty of it. It means different things to different people. So, what does it mean to you? And are you living up to the standards that you’ve set for a relationship where love plays a major part? Are you even willing to commit to loving the other person?
If you’re at that stage of the relationship where love is still in question, it’s time to take a long, hard look and whether you want to forge ahead or call it a day. It’s a very hard decision, especially since you’ve put a lot of effort into building trust, earning the other person’s respect, and making sure your attraction to them is real. But this is where the rubber meets the road and also your point of no return. This is the commitment stage – the chance to put all your eggs into one figurative basket, as it were. If you back out now, you can still have a healthy friendship. Beyond this point, it’s going to be very hard to part amicably because both of you will be fully invested in the relationship.
But if you’ve decided to jump in with both feet, then the best piece of advice here would be to double down and dig in for the ride of your life. There’s nothing that compares to a loving relationship that’s built on a foundation of attraction, trust, and respect. But there’s still one element that crowns such a relationship and makes it even more rewarding. And it is called FREEDOM!
The last component of a strong and lifelong relationship is freedom. This is not very different from the kind of freedom you experience when you are single, but it comes to you in an entirely different form because you now have a deep connection, a foundation of trust, the element of mutual respect, and the strength of the love that you have committed to.
The kind of freedom we’re referring to is the freedom to now build your life and your career to a higher purpose because you have a man or woman by your side who is as committed as you to make things work. You have someone to fall back on in bad times; there’s someone to trust when nobody else trusts you; there’s the privilege of being with your soulmate; and, you’ve been given the freedom to explore new possibilities as you make your life together.
The freedom you experience as a loving couple who have built their relationship on these core values is like nothing else you’ve ever had in your life. But what does this freedom mean?
- It means re-committing yourself over and over because this is an ongoing and lifelong process
- It means letting the other person have their space when they need it, and respecting their wishes even if it goes against your own gut feeling
- It means being an active participant in whatever dream they want to fulfill in their life
- It means contributing in equal part to making sure that the relationship doesn’t erode because of things like doubt, fear, etc.
- It means never taking the person for granted even though you have the freedom to make a lot of assumptions about them as you move forward in life
- It means fighting for them and backing them up when life throws its inevitable curveballs
- It means giving them the confidence to fight their own fights and trusting them to do what’s best for both of you in any situation
- It means trusting them to speak for you as a couple without second-guessing them
- It means making them look good and uplifting and edifying them to others and in public and in private
- It means loving their deficiencies as much as you love their strengths
- It means forgiving them for things you perceive as offensive and directed at you
- It means giving more than 100% of yourself to the relationship
- Above all, it means making a lifetime commitment to support and nurture each other no matter what hurdles come your way
All these meanings of freedom define your relationship and how it will mature in the years to come. It will define your legacy and what your heirs perceive as the founding principles of your entire clan 40, 50, 60 years from now, and well beyond. So, don’t take it lightly. The effort you put now has to last several generations.
“All this heavy stuff when all I wanted was some online dating advice,” you ask? Well, in for a penny, in for a pound… or thousand. The best dating advice you’ll ever receive is not the bolt-on nuggets of wisdom. That will only get you so far. It should be a roadmap for the future, not merely a static map of what landmines to avoid in the present. Remember – any relationship advice for you, as a millennial or Gen Z-er, is only as good as the longevity of its effectiveness. If it can’t help you beyond the first or second date, throw it away. You need something that will carry the relationship forward into something that lasts a lifetime. Anything less than that is simply not worth it; it’s just entertainment.
If entertainment was what you’re looking for, you wouldn’t have gotten this far down the article. The fact that you’re reading this sentence means you want something better. You want something more serious than a one night stand. If you’re after something more permanent, what precedes this paragraph is possibly the best online dating advice – or any kind of meaningful dating advice – you are likely to find on the Internet or anywhere else.