Edge of Everywhere

Online Friend-Dating: Rewards and Challenges

Posted on: February 1, 2010

As a follow-up to my last post about meeting friends through Craigslist, here’s a little more about what I’ve gotten out of the experience and what I’ve found challenging.

Benefits:

-Ability to connect with people I probably never would have met otherwise

-Ability to seek out people in my area and/or who share specific interests

-Ability to expand my social circle by not only meeting new people, but also meeting their friends

Challenges:

-Friendships initiated online lack the context of ones formed at school, through work, through other friends, etc. This means it takes more effort on the part of both people to grow and maintain the friendship, because we won’t see each other unless we plan to get together. In a few cases, I’ve met people with whom I’ve felt somewhat compatible, but we haven’t kept up with each other because neither of us found an immediate motivation to prioritize getting together over all of the other things we could be doing on any given day, and we have no other connection that will happen to bring us together.

-I have occasionally met people (guys) who seemed cool at first but later made me uncomfortable (once, this involved inappropriate comments of a sexual nature) and with whom I decided I did not want to be friends. So I had to platonically “dump” them, basically by ignoring them until they went away. But overall, I’ve had far more positive experiences than negative ones.

I’ll leave you with a few more tips:

-If you meet someone  you “click” with as friends, try to establish something you might like to do together in the future before the meeting is over. If you don’t hear from them in a few days, be sure to email them to let them know you enjoyed meeting them, and try to make a plan to meet again. If you both get lazy and wait too long to make contact again, you might just forget about each other and miss out on a potentially great friendship.

-Once you’ve begun to establish a new friendship, invite the person along to things you’re doing with your other friends, and be open to doing things with them and their friends. If you can integrate into each other’s social circles, it will strengthen the friendship as well as enhance both of your social lives.

-Remember that technology, which brought you together in the first place, can also be a huge help in staying in touch and growing your friendship. Once I’ve met someone (this actually goes for real-life meetings as well as ones initiated online), I’ve found that if we add each other on Facebook and start to keep up with and comment on each other’s posts, we will feel like we know each other better and have more to talk about by the next time we see each other. I’ve found keeping in touch via text message to be useful with certain people as well. For example, if we’ve  discussed a certain topic or established a common interest, and then something happens to me or I learn some new information regarding that topic, I can immediately tell the person about it, thus enforcing the initial connection.

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