The second chapter of “Decoding Dating” focused on how those on spectrum could meet a partner. Internet dating, college, work, and special interest clubs were all avenues that were discussed as ways of meeting someone.
I’m not breaking any news, but internet dating has become a very popular way for people to meet. In fact, as of March this year I read that 50 million people had tried internet dating(http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/). There are definitely some positives for internet dating, particularly for those with ASD. One such positive is that it reduces the anxiety as there isn’t any face to face interaction with talking to someone online as you don’t have to read body language or facial expressions. In addition, for those that process words at a slower pace you can respond at your own pace to messages on the internet. Then if and when the time is right you can meet the person you have been talking to.
John Miller focused on three critical elements that need to happen for internet dating to be successful. These elements are creating an online profile, replying to a profile on a dating site, and things to look out for before going out on a date with a person from an online dating site. He says the first thing anyone must do to have success with internet dating is create an online profile because its the first thing anyone will see, it’s your first impression. Miller suggests creating a catchy headline, sell yourself in your profile, and choose an appropriate photo. While those are good suggestions I think the expectations of what our clients would have to do regarding that would be unclear. First off, what makes a catchy headline? I would say it depends on the individual. We have some clients that are truly funny people. When dealing with those clients I would tell them to try and come up with a funny headline as it really reflects who they are(although run this by someone you trust and get some feedback, what may be funny to you may be offensive to the opposite sex). Then we have other clients who really struggle with humor and that wouldn’t work for them.
Once you figure out a headline Miller suggests to sell yourself in your profile. It tends to be hard for those on the spectrum, so this probably will be a challenging task for most. I’ve heard adults with ASD say to me “why do I have to sell myself, she should like me for me!”. Essentially when someone is creating a dating profile you are saying to the world “Hey, pick me!”. When making your profile, I think it is important to ask yourself this question: why would someone pick you based on just looking at your profile? I think you need to tell them about your wonderful personality, the awesome things you like, and what you want to do with your life. I would not just tell them, but try to tell them by using anecdotes or stories because for some reason humans like that stuff. In addition to telling people about you, having a picture or pictures that show you in a positive light is very important as well. Miller suggests in your picture that you should have your hair combed,wear unwrinkled clothing, and smile. He also suggests you not putting up pictures of you dressed as Darth Vader or Mr. Spock.
Once you have set up this profile then you will probably start looking at profiles of those that you may be interested in dating. When you find someone you are interested in Miller gives four tips in regarding to replying the profile. First he suggests replying in a detailed manner. This is particularly important because I’ve had a couple of clients who gave a one sentence reply or sent a message that just said “hi” and wondered why they didn’t get a response. One may ask what is replying in detailed manner? First, I wouldn’t make it longer than a paragraph. Then I think for me its fairly simple in that you want to introduce yourself (your name, maybe area of town you live in) and then explain what you liked about the person’s profile and why the two of you may be a good match (things you have in common). Once you have replied Miller suggests that you wait at least a day or two before sending another reply. This is good advice, I’ve seen many people who send multiple messages to someone before they reply and this can be a really big turn off. If you haven’t heard from someone after a couple days you can send one more message and if you don’t get a response at that point don’t send another message and look to reply to others profiles.
Hopefully you will get some a response to messaging someone and after messaging back and forth after a while (at least a week or two) then the two of you will want to meet. Miller discusses a few things before having this first meeting. The first is that the profile that someone makes may not be real. It probably would be a good idea to ask questions relating to the information on the profile to verify this information. The second is that the photos may not be real. I think as a general rule to may be a good idea to possibly skype so you can see who this person is to who they are who they say they are before meeting. If you have ever seen the MTV show Catfish you would know that people on dating sites put information that isn’t true or fake pictures on their profile very frequently. Miller also offers a couple of other good tips if you are meeting them which are to meet in a very public place like a coffee shop or restaurant and just be to safe tell a loved one where you are going.
If you aren’t interested in dating sites there are other ways to meet someone to date. If you plan to attend or are in college that could be a good option as there lots of social opportunities whether its in class, the dorm you live in, or participating in extra curricular activities. However, like Miller suggests even though it may be challenging you have to create opportunities to speak to people. If you don’t expose yourself to social situations, the possibility of having friends, not to mention a girlfriend, will be minimal. I think joining an extra curricular activity at college is a great idea (the same can be said for joining special interest groups in the community you live in) because it will focus on something you are hopefully passionate about and that can make it easier to talk to people in that environment. There is also the option for meeting people at work. However, I would be very hesitant to date someone that was a fellow employee. If problems arise in the relationship or you break up with that person than that could make a very uncomfortable situation. If you are to date someone you work with Miller suggests it would be better if you worked in a larger company vs a small one especially if you work in different departments and hardly ever see that person at work.