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Why Online Dating Doesn’t Just Have To Stop In Your Zip Code

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I’m a Florida girl, through and through. From the sand to the surf to the scorching hot sun, I was made for the heat. And it’s not just the temperature; I love the culture, too.

When I moved to Chicago, one of my biggest challenges was meeting new people who shared my similar tastes and interests. There was such a cultural divide between where I grew up and the Midwest. It’s not to say that it was a negative thing, but rather, a readjustment (I promptly picked up snowboarding in lieu of my favorite Florida pastime — surfing.)

But, when I started JALBC™ and began working with clients who were facing similar issues, (I have a great guy who relocated from the Midwest to South Florida who says the same thing) I told him to try something new — long-distance online dating.

I mean, that’s what the “open to relocation” field is for on JDate, right? There’s a reason we have to answer that question, our true love might be living outside of our zip code (and comfort zone!)

So, I put my own advice to the test (with amazing results) and here it is for you, field-tested and dating coach approved: how to break the ice with someone outside of your city:

  1. Don’t treat the initial conversation differently than you would a chat with someone in your own geographic area. If you like someone’s profile, regardless of where they live, send them a message that tells them that. Break the ice. Ask a fun question. Look forward to their response. Take it from there.
  1. Be open about your expectations and intentions. If the person responded, they liked what they saw and what you had to say. Now’s the time to share your dirty little secret — that you’re potentially looking to be more than pen-pals and that you’re in a place in your life where you could see yourself relocating for love (or, if you’re not, be up front about that too.)
  1. Stay in touch. The phone, text messaging, email — there are so many ways to build a dialogue with someone that is far away. Talk on Skype™ or Facetime™ and see if the conversation chemistry is there.
  1. Plan to meet in a neutral place. If you’re the one going to visit, stay in a hotel or at a friend’s house — never stay with the person, regardless of how much they insist. Would you sleep over at someone’s house on a first date if they lived in your city? (Don’t answer that!) There’s no need to add undue pressure.
  1. Don’t treat the buildup of the relationship differently than you would with someone in your own geographic area. From my experience, one of the main reasons I’ve seen long-distance relationships fail is because of the artificial pressure that the couple places on themselves. You’re only in town for three days, you need to spend all three days together. Or, every free weekend/vacation day needs to be spent flying back and forth to see each other. Or, you insist on meeting each other’s friends and family way too fast. This causes an emotional roller coaster that can often be fatal to fledgling love. My advice is to tone it down and don’t treat it as though your last night together (for that trip) is your last night together (forever)!

There you have it! My last suggestion is to pick a place that is at least somewhat familiar to you. Even though I live in Chicago, I looked in South Florida (where I grew up), New York (where I visit every six weeks for work and friends) and Montréal (where I was born.) That way, if I were to meet someone in those respective cities, they wouldn’t feel the pressure of being my only connection there. It could be a business connection, or your college roommate, but having someone in that city, besides your new love interest, will keep your confidence up too!

Melissa E. Malka is a dating coach and matchmaker in Chicago, IL. She’s been described as “a cross between Darwin and the Millionaire Matchmaker” and would love to hear from you here.
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One Comment »

  • Sharlin says:

    I agree with you about this quota “our true love might be living outside of our zip code”. May be that’s the reason of online dating doesn’t just not have stop our in zip code.

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