Are you addicted to online dating?

Are you addicted to online dating? (Dreamstime/TNS)

For many people, online dating is a means to an end. A person wants to, say, end up in a long-term relationship. So, he or she goes on a site like Match or OkCupid or Coffee Meets Bagel, dates any number of people, truly connects with one, and decides to cancel his or her account, ultimately. Success! (Of course, some people don't want a long-term relationship, which is also a valid choice.) 

Then, there are other people who send messages day-in-and-day out trying to see just how many dates they can line up. They know that if Monday's date doesn't work out, then Tuesday's and Wednesday's are right around the corner. 

To be clear, I recommend dating multiple people to see who the best fit is, but once you find that person, it's probably time to ease up on the every-five-minute swipe sessions. As a college boyfriend of mine said at the ripe old age of 21, "There's always another bus around the corner." As you might imagine, that's not exactly what you want to hear from your significant other ... while you're still seeing each other. Thanks, Geoff. 

If you are, in fact, looking for something serious or long-term, then you might want to assess whether you're looking for the best mate for you or whether you're kind of obsessed with – or, dare I say, addicted to – the process of online dating. You might be getting a case of what I call "Grass is Greener Syndrome." 

A client of mine once asked me this question: 

"How do I manage two women and the launch of a promising relationship with one of them, while at the same time protecting myself if things don't work out? 

Things with Cheri (name changed) are going well; we communicate all day and have several dates lined up. As she wrote, 'I'm really looking forward to getting to know you to see if we have the basis for a long-term relationship. So far, so good.' But there are no guarantees, and I've been blindsided before." 

This happens all the time. Things are going well with one person, but you want to "protect" yourself in case it doesn't pan out. How are people protecting themselves these days? They're doing it with the shield of online dating. This shield provides the comfort that someone else (another bus, if you will) is out there for you should the budding romance not work out. 

Many people use this online dating shield as a way of making themselves feel special again simply by logging back on to see the other eligible bachelors or bachelorettes. It makes them keep wondering if there is someone even better out there and often unable to recognize a great fit when that person may be sitting right next to them. 

Online dating sites are not blind to this, either. While they, of course, want to promote their success stories, they also allow you to reactivate your account with one simple click. While that's great if things don't work out, it's almost too easy to go back on "just to see," or worse, out of spite. 

Online dating is amazing for the options it provides – getting to meet people whose paths you wouldn't usually cross – but I wouldn't recommend using these options to the detriment of having a new relationship blossom, which is typically the goal, to start! Wouldn't you want to get off the site and not keep making plans to get back on? And, should things not work out, there is never a dearth of people online, so you have no worries. 

My job is to help people put their best foot forward when online dating, but the job is supposed to have an endpoint – my client meeting someone with whom he or she is compatible. I don't want you to online date forever! (It's weird that I try to lose all of my clients, huh?)  

I want you to online date effectively so you can meet wonderful people, one of whom may just be exactly right for you. — Tribune News Service

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