It happens to the best of us: we open a browser or slide into an app and everyone’s pictures start to look the same. Suddenly, they seem even more two-dimensional, even if you try to be diligent about reading profiles and giving people a chance. It’s easy to forget, at times, that behind every other computer and phone, there’s a real person with hopes, dreams, and fears. Many of them are looking for exactly what you are: someone to share their life with. Maybe they’re looking for you.

But that wasn’t always my first thought when I look at yet another photo of a man holding a freshly caught fish (I think about this kind of photo a lot – what’s the idea behind it? to show that he’s able to catch its own food? is it sending the message that it is looking for a “catch”?), instead I see no one at all, my eyes start to glow. That’s when I know it’s time to take a break.

In that moment, I step away from the computer, or I put my phone down and I breathe. I think about what my therapist told me about being grounded – breathing slowly, looking around and really noticing where I am, and feeling the ground under my feet, maybe noticing the clothes I door or the chair I’m sitting in I come back to my body instead of living in the “online dating” world.

View profile photos

It’s funny, generally I find it hardest to focus on others as people when I’m not fully present in my own humanity. When I take a second to refocus, I often find it easier to look beyond the images, to try to decipher a little of the life that could be behind them. I’m starting to see possibilities. If you struggle with images and profiles that get confused, start with yourself. Make sure you treat yourself like a person. Dating might be a priority for you, it might be something you’re worried about, but it shouldn’t be a reason you’re stressed. Be sure to take care of your own health, mental and physical. If you start to feel anxious, step away for a while. Everything will be there when you return.

Take your time

As for the others, why not slow down? Take your time with a profile like you would if you were having coffee with someone (or maybe speed dating?). Read who they are. Remember that no matter how different they may seem, they have one thing in common with you: they date online. You may not be the one for them, but they hope to find the one who is, just like you. At the very least, they deserve your consideration and respect, even if you don’t choose to communicate with them. If by chance you are looking for sites specializing in the Muslim religion, here is a good example of a Muslim encounter. Remember to take a look at the site


I used to take a long time with a profile. Of those I choose to exclude, I say something I borrowed from Brene Brown, often aloud: “You are worthy of love and belonging. Sometimes I add, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.” ” And I do.

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