When I divorced after over 30 years of marriage, I ventured out into the world of dating with “rose colored glasses”, and no idea how much things had changed over time. I joined, or attended, anything that had the word “single” in it. It didn’t take long for the reality of dating as a newly divorced woman to awaken me from my fantasy world. Women always outnumbered the men at every function, and meeting a “nice” man seemed to be on all of our minds.
I had heard about internet dating, but was hesitant to try something so new and not yet “socially acceptable”. When I finally got up the courage to sign on to one of the largest and well known sites, I didn’t even tell my family. I just knew they would try to talk me out of it. When I decided to tell my sister, she scoffed at the idea. In the eight years that I’ve been divorced, I have tried at least that many dating sites. I’ve been on more dates than I can count, and I’ve fallen in and out of love more than once. I hope my experiences and hard won wisdom might help other women who are considering online dating, or who are already experiencing it and could benefit from another viewpoint.
I have learned to listen carefully to what men reveal in conversations over coffee (my first-time meeting preference), and the one complaint that I’ve heard over and over again is that so many women they’ve met used an outdated or “glamour” photo on their profiles. It definitely made an impression on them, but not the desired one. No matter how witty, sincere, kind, or what a good conversationalist you are, if you have misrepresented yourself by using an outdated photo, or a photo that makes you look like you just walked off a movie set, you have blown your chances of making a good first impression. Meeting someone for the first time is nerve-wracking enough. The last thing you want to see is a look of disappointment on his face. So, have a friend take several photos of you and review them together. Choose the one that shows you at your best, and head out the door with confidence.
Everyone has an idea of how their “perfect match” should look, and what kind of qualities they should have. To help your profile stand out, make it positive and interesting. It’s not the time to reveal that you’re on a new diet and plan to loose 20 pounds, that you have been divorced 3 times, or that you are in therapy to cope with your “issues” with men. Try to be original, and avoid including the very common “I love the mountains and the beaches”. Instead, write about a great restaurant you enjoy at your favorite beach, or the best place to take a hike in the mountains. Share something unique about you, or something that you would hope to have a partner enjoy with you. Take the time to really read what’s in someone’s profile. Contacting a person because they are attractive to you, and finding out later that they are an avid golfer or football fan and you are not, can be disappointing to both of you. You’ve taken the time to write a profile that expresses your passions and shares your personality, take the time to read the same from others.
If you are looking for a relationship, there are definite signs that a man may be more interested in casual dating than a long term commitment. If he has one arm draped around a woman who has been “cropped” out of his photo, that is probably a good indication that he is fresh out of another relationship, or didn’t care enough to have a current photo taken. It’s also not a good sign if he talks a lot about his many “female friends” on a first date, or talks excessively about his “ex”.
I was on a first date with a widowed man one evening, and he was telling me what a wonderful woman his departed wife was. I was trying to be understanding and sympathetic, but when he told me he had lost her just three months ago, I wanted to get up and run. Not only was it way too soon for him to be dating, but I couldn’t help but wonder what his intentions were. It takes time to heal from loosing someone you love, and sometimes loneliness will cause people to try dating too soon. This happens with newly divorced people as well, especially when the divorce was unexpected, or from someone they had been married to for many years. There will always be the inevitable comparisons, and feelings of guilt or betrayal on their part. It’s almost a guarantee that things will not end well for you. A few years after my divorce, I dated a wonderful man for 8 months, and I fell in love with him. He was everything I wanted in a partner. He was kind, loving, generous, and had a great sense of humor. I would have been happy to spend the rest of my life with him, but I was oblivious to several “red flags”. His wife had left him for another man, and he was still deeply hurt. It had been less than a year ago, and I was the first person he dated after the divorce. I was crushed when he unexpectedly told me that we shouldn’t see each other anymore.
No matter how young your friends think you look, never lie about your age. It is so hard to remember how old your kids are supposed to be when you’ve taken a few years off of your age. Sooner or later the truth will catch up with you, and then a guy will wonder what other “little white lie” you may have told. It used to be considered impolite to ask a woman her age, but the anonymity of dating online tends to make people feel that it’s okay to ask anything from your age to your weight. All online sites ask for an age range that you’d like them to match you with. There are many men out there who request age ranges from ten to twenty or more years younger than themselves. If a man requests an age range of 25-45, even if he’s 55 and you’re 55, you’d probably be disappointed if you tried communicating with him. You’ll have much better luck with someone who will appreciate a woman closer to his own age.
Though it’s nice to learn a little more about someone by exchanging e-mails before you agree to meet, limit the number of e-mails you exchange. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending weeks, or even months learning that you have a lot in common, only to discover that there is no “chemistry” between you when you finally meet. You may also become just a “pen pal”. Sometimes the guy just disappears from your mailbox, never to be heard from again. Chances are that you’re not the only one he’s communicating with, so why spend too much time on e-mails when you could be meeting for coffee or lunch, and getting to know the real person.
It’s a good idea to talk with a potential date on the phone before meeting for the first time. You can learn a little about their personality, and even their character. I was having a pleasant phone conversation with someone I was going to meet for coffee, when he started telling me about a recent date he had planned. He was going to take the lady for a ride on his Harley (not a wise choice for a date with someone you have never met). He arranged to meet her at a Starbuck’s, and when she excused herself to visit the restroom, he drove off and left her. The reason he gave was that he thought she was “too fat” to ride on the back of his bike. I decided that he was not the kind of person I would like to meet, and it was one more case for being honest and posting a recent photo.
There are always people with less than good intentions out there, so be aware of anyone who sounds too good to be true. There are also some very interesting and sincere people. I have had a lot of dating disappointments, but I have also had positive experiences that just didn’t lead to a romantic connection. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I look at the positive side. I consider dating to be a “numbers” game. Sooner or later, I hope I’ll meet the “right” person for me. Each experience, whether it be a good, or a not so good one, brings me closer to finding him. If it’s not meant to be, I still have a full life, and lots of other interests to share with my wonderful family and friends. I’ve learned to appreciate my “alone” time to learn new things and enjoy my home.
Can internet dating really end in “true love”? My sister, the one who was very skeptical about meeting someone on a dating site, is about to celebrate her 3rd wedding anniversary. She met her wonderful husband on Match.com after only a few months on the site, and at the age of 50. They are not only compatible, but very happy and very much in love.