The message forums at CatholicMatch are a tremendous way to meet people – it’s where I met my wife! – yet most members do not use them. For those who aren’t familiar with them, CatholicMatch hosts 41 forums dedicated to specific topics, ranging from sports fans to job hunters to single parents.
If you haven’t used them, today is a perfect time to check out a new way of meeting people online. For those who are but haven’t taken advantage, it’s time to ask why not.
A message forum is really just an online version of meeting people in a group setting. Like a big party, it can seem intimidating: How will you stand out? Will someone notice you or will a small group of people suck the air out of the room?
Those are concerns a person has when stepping into a group setting in the real world and a lot of those same problems exist in the message forums. But just as there are answers in the real world, there are answers online.
Here a few suggestions:
1. Be yourself! It’s easy to say and hard to do, even in the message forums. You might be tempted to hang out in rooms where more members of the opposite sex are even if the topic doesn’t interest you. Steer clear of this mindset. I understand you’re here to meet someone on a romantic, not platonic level, but it can’t be forced.
Whether your topic of interest is movies, politics, sports or just being silly and hanging out online, go do that. In seven years as a CatholicMatch member I participated in any number of threads, some for the right reasons and others for the wrong reasons. I ended up meeting my future wife on a thread in the sports forum where we both happened to be bashing Yankee fans. We were each being ourselves.
2. Disagreements aren’t personal. Whether it’s single life, the affairs of the Church, or current events, any number of forum topics can get heated. It’s this issue that keeps potential forum participants away – and possibly away from interacting with their future spouse. This is unnecessary. There’s no doubt that on occasion forum disagreements do get carried away, and that’s why CatholicMatch has forum moderators and rules in place.
But more often than not, a disagreement is between two people of goodwill and the online venue makes it easy to angrily type a response to what they perceive as a personal attack. Step back, take a deep breath and just express your opinion and move on. Remember, if you get in a tough forum thread and express yourself clearly, without going off the deep end, you’ll draw like-minded people to you. If you lose it, you might get sympathy, but come off looking like a loose cannon. Controversial threads are an opportunity in their own way. Take advantage of them.
3. Use the forums as a first step. When someone posts something you like, how hard is it to send a simple emotigram saying “Great post!” or to send them a message? In doing so, you broaden your circle of online friends, which naturally increases your percentage of finding what you’re really looking for.
Seeking out a spouse is a great quest of the human heart, but there’s also some cold-blooded math that has to be done. You have to put the numbers in your favor. It’s a reason most people are online to begin with, and the message forums increase your numbers more rapidly than any other means on CatholicMatch.