‘Do I need to kiss them? What if I never meet anyone I like?‘
No, you don’t need to kiss them. But it might be time to go offline.
‘When you go online, you’re not diving into a vast ocean of people,’ says James McConnachie.
‘You’re being herded into meticulously managed ecosystems, each with its own distinctive population – and unfortunately, online dating can be populated by predators.’
So if a guy talks about sex on the first date and then disappears, don’t be nervous. Be grateful he’s gone.
‘People often use online dating as a way of hooking up without any of the hard work of wooing that used to go before,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
‘You want the opposite of this – a more traditional, slow-paced courtship.’
Imagine that online dating is a bar and that all the men you meet at this bar are only interested in kissing.
‘Which in this context means sex – let’s be frank,’ says McConnachie. ‘Would you keep going to that bar? Or would you try a bar with a different clientele and a different vibe?’
While it might help to pay a dating service subscription, which can screen out some chancers, it might be worth seeking offline romance through new activities and experiences, joining organisations or meeting friends of friends.
But before you embark on these new avenues, we sense a conflict that might benefit from some reflection.
‘What has the currency of sex meant to you before now?’ asks Rudkin. ‘Has it been used in previous relationships as a power game or is it something you feel you’ve never really been comfortable with?’
Perhaps it would be better to embrace the experience of being single for now and really get to know yourself and your needs.
‘There are so many advantages to being single, provided you invest the same time and resources into your friendships as you would into a partner,’ says Rupert Smith.
If you’re apprehensive about going it alone for a while, put some of the energy you’ll save into self-development.
‘Try out a course or go on holiday with a friend,’ Smith suggests.
‘Above all, let go of the idea that being single is so awful that you have to put yourself through this hell to avoid it.’
You have honoured your boundaries and should feel proud for doing so but some introspection will help you feel clearer and stronger.
‘And remember, going out to bars isn’t for everyone and neither is online dating,’ says McConnachie. ‘Some people are more café kind of people.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)