Online Dating Addiction

In the last 3 years following my divorce I have been attempting to online date. My experience in meeting and dating men from these sites have been disheartening and in large part traumatizing. I have made many attempts, on many sites, with many different methods and the result is always the same.

Over time, I have changed and now value having a relationship much less and value my independence more. I do not feel that pursuing a relationship is in my best interest at this time. I have some short bouts of loneliness, but overall I am satisfied and happy with my life.

What has brought me to lemonvibe is that I believe I have somewhat of an addiction to online dating. As a person who has never had an addiction to anything, this is a new situation for me. I have been able to go for longer periods of time without putting up a profile, but eventually something will trigger me and I will put one up.

My first step in dealing with this was to identify some triggers…they include being seriously overworked, having brief work contact with men in my age range, meeting people in relationships or having trouble with relationships (part of my work). One of my worst triggers is that everyone I know either thinks I am dating someone great or that I will “find someone very soon.” Even my best friend who has heard all of my bad dating stories still believes I will “find someone.” I went to a therapist once who was convinced I would find someone, and instead of focusing on the traumatic incident that had just occurred in my life, he wanted to talk about my love life!

I am looking for advice on how to handle the perception in others that everyone will find someone, that we all live in some type of romantic fantasy world! I have become aware of the real truth, that not everybody does find someone. Any advice would be appreciated, as I work on handling these triggers…

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6 thoughts on “Online Dating Addiction

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    [It feels like you’re asking two different questions here:

    1. How do you deal with an addiction to online dating?

    2. How do you learn to accept the possibility that you might never meet someone?

    To be honest, I don’t think anyone on here can give you proper advice for your first question. If you truly believe that online dating is becoming an addiction for you, that’s something you definitely have to work on with a therapist. You mentioned that you had a disappointing experience with a previous therapist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find another one who can actually help you. I’d suggest shopping around for a new therapist — one who’s trained to help you deal with a possible addiction, because this probably isn’t something an online advice site will be able to help you with.

    As far as your second question goes, I would counter it with, “Why is it important for you to meet someone?”

    Sure, it would be nice to meet someone special and fall in love. But what if you don’t? Will that make your life any less meaningful? Isn’t it possible to live a fulfilling life even if you don’t meet someone? I, for one, believe it’s possible.

    From my experience, when I meet a person who pegs their happiness on meeting someone special, I find that more often than not, there’s something else that’s missing in their life. Maybe they feel like their life lacks a purpose, and finding love would give them that purpose. Maybe they suffer from self-esteem issues — issues which they believe can be solved if they can only find someone to love them. I know this may sound harsh, but I can’t ever remember an instance of someone, whose life was going well in every other respect, asking for advice on finding love.

    Of course, you haven’t really said much about yourself, so I’m not suggesting that these are the issues you have. I just wanted to offer them up as things to think about… just in case. You did say that overall, you’re fairly happy and satisfied with your life. If that’s the case, then I think you just have to focus on those things. You can’t control if you’ll ever find love. So, maybe you just have to distract yourself with the other aspects of your life — aspects you have full control over — that make you happy.

    Then again, it sounds like maybe you just have friends who are overly optimistic, and you prefer a more realistic outlook on life. I’m kind of the same way. I always used to hate it when I’m down about something, and a friend says, “Don’t worry, it’ll happen. Just be patient.”

    And I’m like, “How the @#$% do you know that?!?”

    If that’s what’s getting you down, understand that they’re trying to be supportive, and thank them for that. But, I think it’s also perfectly okay to tell them that their optimism doesn’t really help you. Hopefully, they’ll get the hint and stop with the “I know you’ll meet someone!” comments.

    Because, yeah, annoying.

  2. BetsyBing says:

    [Thanks for your feedback, definitely made me think. Since I wrote the blurb I have thought more about whether I am addicted to online dating. I think I was actually more addicted by the notion that this was the way to “find someone” for dating. Over all of the experiences that I’ve had with it, I have come to the conclusion that there is only a small percentage of people on those sites that is looking to develop a relationship, and I hadn’t even met one of them. No matter what they say in their profiles they are looking for sex, or at least sex first as a pathway to getting to a relationship. This may be odd and abnormal of me, but I don’t handle relationships that way. In real life, I am a professional in my job and have two children, people treat me with respect and develop relationships with me based on my personality. That has not happened in online dating at all, and it’s been a process to realize it but I think I’m now a believer. When I look at all the articles on Internet dating, they would suggest that it works and that I’ve done something wrong. I need to trust my own experiences, after 100+ meetings, I have a small research study of my own.

    You are right about not pinning happiness on finding someone special, I think I am guilty of that a little. I have spent most of my adult years married and seem to feel that’s the normal way to be. And yes, my friends and co-workers are and don’t understand why I can’t find someone. When I tell them I’m not interested in looking, they try to argue it. It is very annoying!

    Thanks for the feedback…I think it will just take a little time!

  3. BetsyBing says:

    [Thanks for the link to your article, very enlightening actually…

    After three years of my personal experiences in internet dating, I have come to the following conclusions for dating in my area (Ohio) and in my age bracket (mid-40s to 50s) in the current time:

    1. The absolute expectation is sex on the first or second date (at the very least).
    2. First meetings are for men to establish attractiveness and physical chemistry (definitely not to figure out the workings of my mind).
    3. Men who are educated are seeking sex as well, but they are too refined to admit it outright. They just play endless mind games instead.
    4. It does not matter what my profile says about what I am looking for. Nobody cares what is says or what I’m looking for.
    5. It does not matter what the man’s profile says about what he is looking for. What is in the profile is never to be trusted.
    6. If I contact a man first on a dating site, I am definitely expected to want sex and I am expected to make the first move or pursue the man until my object is attained.
    7. Men don’t need to put any effort into getting to know me (mentally), because sex is available right back on that dating site.
    8. This is just a game that people are playing.
    9. Direct and honest communication is not allowed in online dating.

    I have to say that I have known people who have been successful in finding someone special on a dating site, but these people were in a younger age bracket. Are there date-worthy people out there? Probably. Maybe.

    I just prefer to concentrate on my real life and real people!

  4. Jenny says:

    [Just to throw my 2 cents in about your points:

    1.) Whether the expectation is for sex or not, you are in no way obligated. I found this to be true for about 99% of the men I went on a date with through OKC. However if they were crude enough to say something about it, I flat out told them it was in the cards. Plus I never went on another date with aforementioned men.
    2) Mind games are only effective if you choose to play the game. If you don’t play the game it won’t work.
    3) I got this a little backwards but all first dates are about establishing chemistry and attractiveness. I know I did that myself a few times and if I didn’t feel it, I’d politely tell them hey good luck dating and wouldn’t text or message them any longer. I’ll be the first to admit if I didn’t find the guy attractive I wasn’t wasting anymore time (mine or his).
    4/5) I never remember what the profile says mine or his. I remember better through having conversations in person that reading text on a webpage… but that’s just me personally. I know I asked my husband a bunch of questions that could probably have been answered if I had reread his profile… but oops. I often forgot what I had written in my profile. I’m a bit absentminded you see.
    6/7/8) I would contact guys first occasionally but I never speculated to what they thought my intentions were. I usually made myself pretty clear with what my intentions were and if they weren’t respecting my boundaries they got the boot. If they played games they got the boot. If they were just looking for a FWB they got the boot. I probably sound like a bitch, but my time is precious and I refuse to have it wasted. So I did cut guys off pretty quickly if I didn’t feel like they added anything positive.

    And yes I think it’s allowed in online communication because that’s all that I would allow.

    After my divorce (a lot of emotional abuse and passive aggressiveness) I learned that people would treat me the way I let them treat me, whether in my real life relationships and online relationships.

    *disclaimer* I may be a little biased because I did in fact meet my now husband online. He was funny, respectful and kind. But you know something? He was out of my supposed age range for men I was willing to date. If I hadn’t been willing to keep an open mind, I probably wouldn’t be married to a man who brings out the best in me. And yes…. I had to wade through a lot of garbage to find my diamond.

    I can send you some messages I saved from my dating days…

  5. AKchic says:

    [How do you deal with things? The same way you would deal with any other addiction.

    First and foremost – you need to swear off the online dating. You know it’s a problem, therefore you need total abstinence. I’m actually very serious about this.

    You need to find a new therapist. One who deals with not only mental health, but addictions as well. Internet addictions are now a recognized issue in the DSM-V manual, if I remember my browsing of the damned thing (it was just “officially” released recently).
    Frame your issues around your fixation on the online dating, not your love life.

    You will need to change your attitude in regards to what other people think and how you react to those things, and how you react to what other people SAY. Guess what – it makes no difference what people think about your relationships. They are seeing it from outside looking in. And everyone puts on a happy smile in public. Only you know what it’s like at home.

    Take things one day at a time. Don’t worry about finding Mr. (or Ms.) Right. Or Even Mr/Ms Right Now. Spend more time with kids, family, volunteer, pick up a new (or old, laying on the side) hobby. Get busy so you won’t be so tempted to join another dating website.

    This is coming from a married 3x female who never found internet dating to be any help. But I sure did love bed-hopping.

  6. justwondering says:

    [HI Betsy:

    This response is way late but I just got back on the site today after a long time away and saw your post. I don’t have any exciting answers but I did want to sympathize with you about on line dating sites. I didn’t have 100 dates but after a much smaller number, I was thoroughly disappointed and felt so bad about myself that I thought there must be something wrong with this. I shouldn’t feel worse about myself so I left and just concentrated on other things in my life. I haven’t meet anyone but I sure felt better about myself over these last few months. My life got a lot more “boring” but It was way more “normal” and peaceful for lack of a better word(s).

    I think on line dating can work for some people, in fact, 3 people I know personally met their current partner this way but it’s not for everyone. If you introverted, if you’re more cautious and not much of a flirt, or if you’re not willing to put out, or give the impression that you’re not, if you’re older, if you’re not Caucasian, I know, I know, that sounds awful but from what I can see, there is some truth to it, it may not work out for you. Because so much of it is based on looks, people on these sites are looking to eliminate, rather than to consider. With hundreds of potential dates, how do you pick one? you start eliminating of course! and how you do get to know people in all their complexity, good and bad, if they never make it past the first impression?

    In terms of the addiction, I can see how that might happen because it gives the illusion that these men are interested in you and it’s fun and flattering, until it isn’t. Like anything on line, because there is so much anonymity, people tend to not give as much thought to reaching out, because it’s not like you will have to see the person after if they reject you, and taking off or disappearing after a few dates or emails, because that person will never find you again. So, there is a lot more rude behavior, I find.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that maybe it’s not the vehicle for you but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better ways to meet people.

    Recently, I’ve been reading more about life and how people find peace and contentment and it really goes back to our core, what makes our heart sing, forget the time, gives us peace and contentment. It might be children, or sports, or nature or art. Whatever it is, if we can reconnect or add that to our lives, we will feel better. I know, it sounds cheezy but it really helped me.

    I am in my late 40’s and have 2 children as well so often I am so tired by the end of the work day, I can barely get enough energy to think about dating. I may never meet the right person but I will keep trying, by getting out there and doing things I love and if I don’t, I will still have raised my children to the best of my ability, spent valuable time with my friends and family and pursued things that I care about and interest me.

    I hope I never give up on the idea of love and I hope you won’t either. I just don’t want to spend my life chasing it and missing everything else in my life that’s worth my attention. I hope this is in some way helpful and if it isn’t I wish you the best anyways,

    Good luck, laugh often, vent every once in a while,

    best,
    jw

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