A new malady has sprung up simultaneously with the ascent of online dating. It's called dating ADD. Symptoms of this disorder are similar to the more common form of ADD: easy distractibility, lack of focus and inability to stick to a task.
Dating ADD appears to have arisen out of our inborn compulsive tendencies and is worsened by easy access to hand-held technology and to a seemingly endless supply of desirable people online.
The person afflicted with dating ADD manifests symptoms before, during and after a date. The first symptoms arise in response to the sheer volume of potential partners on any particular dating site. This glut of attractive, available humanity creates difficulties for the ADD dater in narrowing down the list of those with whom to make first contact.
The ADD dater is compulsive in their desire to meet as many people as they can. They cast such a wide net that there's no way they can follow up with everyone to whom they've reached out.
The person on the receiving end of the ADD dater's contact without follow-up is left wondering why this individual bothered to contact them in the first place. If friends who use the same site were to talk amongst themselves, someone who does this could get the reputation for being insincere.
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Symptoms of during-date ADD present in the form of continually responding to calls or texts which, aside from being very bad behavior, indicates a lack of interest in the person across the table.
Another during-date symptom consists of the ADD dater being so preoccupied with the date they just had or the dates coming up next that they're unable to pay sufficient attention to the person sitting right in front of them.
The person out with the ADD dater could feel hurt, angry, insulted or all three. They probably wouldn't agree to a second date. If they did however -- perhaps in the hope that this rude behaviour was atypical -- they're likely to regret it because post-date ADD behavior is extremely off-putting.
Post-date ADD is evidenced by the afflicted person not making contact until an excessive amount of time has gone by, or being unable to firm up plans for the second date.
The person with dating ADD might want to have a second date, but they're so distracted from juggling the many possible love-interests they've met or have yet to meet that they can't get it together to make a call or set a second date.
Sadly, for the person who had an enjoyable first date with an ADD dater, this delayed contact or waffling will usually be enough to wipe out any hope or desire for a second date.
There's an even more pathological version of this disorder: it occurs when the ADD dater has had an excellent date with someone, but never contacts them again. This is due to the ADD dater being convinced that there must be someone better out there.
The pathological ADD dater goes on an endless series of first dates because they're convinced that the perfect person is just the next date away. Those who are confused about never receiving a follow-up call should understand that the pathological ADD dater is endlessly waiting for an epiphany which will tell them that they've finally found "the one."
Online dating is a wonderful way of discovering people whom you'd never otherwise have a chance to meet. It has a good track record of bringing people together and creating long-term relationships and happy marriages. The key to on-line dating, however is knowing how to use it properly.
If you've exhibited any of the above symptoms of dating ADD, it will explain why your dating experiences have been less than satisfying, thus far.
Fortunately, a cure to this affliction is available. It simply requires that you follow these four steps: First, when looking through the list of potential dates, narrow down the field to a manageable number. This way, you'll be able to follow up with everyone who responds to your initial overture.
Second, if you turn off your hand-held device(s) and give your full attention to your date, you're much less likely to turn them off. Plus, you'll be able to ascertain whether they're someone you'd want to see again.
Third, if you want a second date, don't let too much time elapse before you make contact again, and have an idea of when you'd be able to meet so the person recognizes your sincerity.
Finally, avoid the most serious pitfall of on-line dating by recognizing that there's no "perfect" person out there for you. If you give up seeking perfection, you'll be a lot more likely to identify the person with whom you can form a genuine connection.
If you notice any of the above signs of ADD in your dating behavior, you can nip them in the bud and instead of going on innumerable first dates and never finding "the one," you can successfully negotiate the ins and outs of on-line dating and perhaps even find true love.
Find out whether the dating service does any background checks or fraud scans before a person's profile is posted.
Be cautious if the person claims to be recently widowed or says they're an American stationed overseas, possibly in the military.
Watch out if the person immediately asks you to communicate on an email or messaging system outside the dating site. Some dating sites monitor exchanges for signs of fraud, and a fraudster may be anxious to lure you away from the site.
Do a Google search on the person. You can even paste the text of the email, profile description, or pictures into Google and search to see if similar text, pictures or descriptions are used by others. Some criminals create multiple profiles and use the same information over and over.
Run the other way if the person hints that they are in financial trouble or have another sudden need for money. (This can occur after months of online chatting.) If the person asks you to wire money--such as by Western Union, MoneyGram or Green Dot MoneyPak--it more than likely is a scam.
Check the person's name in online databases of sex offenders, which are available in many states.
If you decide to meet the person, go to a place where there are large numbers of people and where you feel safe. Consider taking someone along with you.
Follow Marcia Sirota on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marciasirota