cautionIf you turn your nose up at online dating, or love to complain about how “it doesn’t work,” I have a suggestion: Replace the term “online dating” with “my love life” and you’ll have a fairly accurate take on what’s holding you back in the relationships department.

Look, I know why you’re afraid: You think it’s not real, or not for real, that everyone’s a liar, a player, desperate, or all three. You think you can’t possibly meet someone there, and what would u tell ppl if you did? You’re married to an idea of how you’ll meet someone–but unless you’re a screenwriter, this is a pointless goal. You’re afraid of being judged, passed over. Or just going on dates that maybe aren’t so great. You can have a crappy dating life without going online, so why bother, right? WRONG.

One thing I know for sure is this: Your fears, judgments, and suspicions around online dating are keeping you from the life you want. In fact, if you examine your fears or resistance around online dating, you will see some familiar themes popping up that undoubtedly plague your dating life already: such as fear, judgment, and suspicion. And I can show you how to use online dating to change the way you see dating and yourself.

Online dating isn’t a movement, a revolution, or a philosophy. Online dating is a tool. And by eliminating that tool from your arsenal, you’re not only short-circuiting your own learning curve, but missing out on a vital opportunity to strengthen, expand, and hone your dating and relating skill. I say skill because it takes practice: You know this because if you haven’t dated, you feel nervous and awkward and worried, as you would with anything you haven’t done and want to do well.

Online dating isn’t some magic formula; there is none (this report from earlier this year showed that the algorithms are largely bogus). Dating is a numbers game. And if you go on one date and it doesn’t work out and you give up, then that’s not online dating’s fault. That’s your fault.

The key is knowing how to use that tool. And this is what I do with my clients–I help them become comfortable with it because it reflects and affects how they feel about dating and helps us take those issues head on. In fact, you can’t work with me without having a profile–and I help you create it.

Here’s What Online Dating Gives You (besides access to loads and loads of singles)

–Intention & control. You create the profile; you’re in control. You can do the choosing, the initiating, the responding. In creating your profile you also get the chance to distill for yourself and others what you’re looking for and what you want.

–Options. You remind yourself, first and foremost, that you have them. That puts you in a position of power. You are interviewing ppl in a way, and showing yourself all that you have to choose from.

–Momentum.  It’s easier to find a job when you have a job, right? Same goes for dates. You start booking dates, your confidence goes up, your social calendar shifts. Even your posture changes. I’ve seen it happen.

–Low stakes. If you go to every online dating thinking This Must Be The One, you’ll be sorely disappointed a lot of the time. Don’t go in that way. It’s not the hit or miss, pass/fail, husband- or wife-seeking contest. It’s the chance to explore, to see what interests, excites, or turns you off; observe your own habits and hangups in action so you can begin to adjust them. Your goal is to connect with lots of people, not just one perfect person.