Educational psychology professor offers tips for going from online to real-life dating

UNT Educational Psychology senior lecturer Julie Leventhal's online dating tips.
UNT Educational Psychology senior lecturer Julie Leventhal's online dating tips.

Online dating makes connecting with potential partners a quick swipe away, but engaging in an actual conversation that leads to a real-life relationship — not so simple.

An important thing to remember is that there’s no one way to have a relationship, says Julie Leventhal, senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas.

Leventhal is a UNT alumna with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in development and family studies, as well as a PhD in family studies from Texas Woman’s University. She teaches a Courtship and Marriage course at UNT focused on romantic relationships across the life cycle. 

She gave the following tips on navigating the path from online dating to having a relationship in real life. 

 

Try to start off with a genuine and open-ended question that gets a conversation flowing. Few people like “hey” or “wow, you’re beautiful.” Replace “How are you doing?” with “What’s your opinion on breakfast for dinner?”

 

Don’t be afraid to disclose bits and pieces of who you are, but be aware that everything is searchable on the internet. Find the balance between disclosure and non-disclosure that you are most comfortable with.

 

Be slow to judge. Sometimes, even though you’re not face-to-face, it can be hard to reach out and communicate clearly. The internet can help us be more comfortable in our communication, but it may also hinder us if we cannot see facial expressions or emotions.

 

Just because you match doesn’t mean you are a match. Matching or chatting with someone does not mean that you are obligated to meet up in person, and it does not guarantee that you will connect if you do meet up.

 

Both casting a wide net and being super selective can work — it’s all about what YOU are looking for. There is no one right way to experience online dating. You are in charge of your destiny — figure out what you want and own it. 

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