How I Found The Love of My Life Online (and some lessons I learned along the way)

This was 7 years ago, so I'm well aware that some things have changed...Tinder was just a glimmer in a hook-up's eyes...
  1. I wasn't looking for the love of my life
    I was just dating to date. I was meeting people with an open mind. I had no expectations other than to practice.
  2. I had only one "deal-breaker"
    He has to be kind. That was my deal-breaker. I've met so many women (and a few men) who have a 20 item deal-breaker list. People are not made at a factory to be a perfect mate for you. I got down to a super essential list of one that encompasses several things: has to treat women well, has to be politically center or left leaning, is empathetic, etc.
  3. I decided to look for 'just-cuter-than-cute-enough'
    I don't take a great picture. Some of us are more attractive in person and/or once you get to know us. I decided that if their picture was at least reasonable i.e. No boogers in their nose, capable of smiling or silliness or whatever, I'd give them a chance. My partner's pictures were terrible. I thought he was actively, aggressively mediocre in the looks department. We met and he was CUTE in person. He just didn't have good pictures.
  4. I was happy with any outcome
    About 8 months before I met "the" date, I decided that the date was the experience. This is related to my first point above—I wasn't looking for love or sex or really anything other than to date, whatever that meant. I went into every situation with a totally open mind. I had fiasco dates, hookups, 3 minute dates that called me the next day, 4 hour dates that never contacted me again. It was all OK and I was never disappointed because THE DATE IS THE GOAL AND THE EXPERIENCE.
  5. I stopped being on my best behavior.
    I'm a potty mouthed person. I'm not a very girly girl. I started being myself 100% of the time. That didn't mean spilling my guts about every dark secret, it just meant I really tried to be authentic. If they don't like you for you, what's the point? Maybe if I was trying to get laid it would have been different because I'd be trying to close the deal or "get them to like me" or whatever, but remember—I had no expectations of outcome.
  6. I gave people second chances
    Sometimes people are nervous. I had one date that was kind of weird. We had some lovely chats and texts and in person it was strange. In the past I would have said no way—too awkward. But I remembered the original points of contact, and that people get nervous and flustered. We went out again and dated for several months. We didn't work out in the long run but I would have missed out on a very good experience if I'd bailed after our first awkward date.
  7. I learned boundaries and trusted my instincts
    There were some dates that were not going to work out. I had a nice time with one guy and he liked me, but he was too young and just wasn't a great fit for me. I memorized this line: "It was really nice to meet you, but I don't think we are a match. I really hope you find a good match. Good luck out there!" There are exceptions to giving second chances and this was one. Instincts navigated me and I got better and better at knowing when to say 'so long' vs giving a second chance.
  8. I didn't need a thunderclap
    I didn't have instant attraction with my partner. Our conversation came easy. We had a lovely time talking and that was it. I had no idea if he'd call again, or if we'd be best friends, or something in between. If it had been important to me to have instant sparks I would have missed out on a major way. We had a slow-burn chemistry that has turned out way better than any thunderclap.
  9. I worked on becoming my own best partner
    I worked on myself. I found activities I loved, I was kind to myself, (if it's a deal breaker for someone else, why shouldn't it be a deal breaker for me?) I went about making myself the best partner I could be to myself. That made it easier to be rejected, to find humor in disastrous dates, and to not be disappointed with any outcome. Be the change you want to see and all that jazz. No matter what happened with dating, I was making myself happier. That's a win-win for life. Good luck out there!