I had somewhat of an epiphany on the subject of love in my thirties, understood more of what a relationship meant and found that I very much wanted to settle down at last and give a proper, grown up relationship a go.
I took a step back, looked at all my male friends and reconsidered them as more than friends. I dated, I even tried a Lonely Hearts scheme in the local newspapers and if you’ve read my SW Interview, then you know how badly that panned out.
On a friend’s recommendation, I went onto an online dating site and filled in my profile. Who knew at the time where that would lead, but I’d like to pass on some of the experiences I had and all that I learnt because for me it turned out to be the best thing I have ever done.
Thinking about online dating, but worried it carries a stigma? Worried that everybody on the site will be desperate, sad and lonely? People will think that you are?
Ignore the negative views, from my experience they were all wrong. Online dating should really have another name, perhaps ‘Online Meeting’ because, in reality, that’s what it is. To go on a date with somebody will always be that, a face-to-face date. Online dating sites simply give you the tools to vet, meet, get to know people before you get to the dating stage. How cool!
The Online Daters
It’s not just the home sad and desperate types. I don’t know who it was who first came up with that opinion, but they obviously never used any dating Sites. All types of people go online. Like anywhere else in life, you’ll come across all kinds of people on a dating site. Some bad, but a lot more who are good.
So be brave, go for it and don’t look back. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll meet some new people, you may fall in love. What’s to lose!?
Okay, so you’ve decided to do it (yay!) and you’re sat at your computer screen, maybe alone. Maybe with a good mate and a bottle of wine for courage, ready to fill out your profile.
BE HONEST!! And this doesn’t just apply to being honest about your bad habits and looks. Any lies will just backfire the minute you meet up with someone, so I tried to be brutally honest about everything. Turns out there are men out there who like outspoken women who smoke … who knew?! Think on, be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for too. To be successful at finding love online, you are looking for someone who wants someone like YOU! They won’t find you if you’re busily pretending to be someone else.
Be honest with your picture too and make sure it matches what you’re looking for. If all you’re after is sex, sexy pic! But if you’re looking for something more meaningful and you sex up your image too much you might give someone the wrong impression.
Choose a picture you love, make it a smiley one but don’t try and create a new image or a new you, BE you.
Don’t Be Shy, Say ‘Hi’
Depending on how big the site you’re using is, and Singles Warehouse is about as big as they get, you’ll find pretty quickly that you start getting contact and responses. Suggested matches also, based on how well your profiles correspond.
But don’t just check your inbox for the perfect match to come to you. Online dating is much safer at this stage of getting to know than any other form of contact so GO LOOK! Do searches, check out profiles and find a few favourites. Be the first to make contact, because confidence is very attractive. Realise how good YOU feel when someone checks your pic and your profile and sends you a message and get out there and try to cause the same feelings.
It’s the same as walking into a crowded room of people and saying ‘Hi!’ so try that first. When I started it seemed more real to start with “Hello, how are you? What you doing today?” than jumping straight into flirty, sexual talk. Ask them anything that you want to know and get chatting, see if you get along and keep the sex and romance talk for a little further down the line.
Don’t get stuck with the wrong one because you’re too polite to block them
And give people a chance too. Don’t get stuck with a wrong one because you’re too polite to block them but equally don’t pre-judge peoples contact, you’ll maybe dismiss someone you should have given more chance to.
Some people have an online persona and it might take a little getting to know them to break that down. See if you can get passed ‘trying to impress’ stage before you decide against somebody.
Of course, some of those (polite cough) online personas cannot be broken down. That’s what Block is for. Unless you like the one in the ‘peephole’ Spiderman suit who only writes in rhyme of course …
Don’t Get Put Off, Persevere
One thing I do remember from using online dating that reminds me of something I heard once; “the first person who comes up to you at a party, usually turns out to be the most annoying”.
Some folks will contact you (and everybody else probably) as soon as your profile appears, immediately very personal and will often try and take things almost immediately to a level where you’re talking about sex and wanting to exchange contact details and meet up.
We’ve all heard this before but please heed it: DON’T GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL CONTACT DETAILS. The site will give you all the tools you need to chat at first.
If someone’s insistent that they want your personal details before you know them, I’d be especially wary to give it out. It’s not the internet, it’s people and there’s as many bad ones on the streets as you’ll find online. Be brave, but don’t be daft. I wouldn’t tell someone I’d just met on the street where I live or give them my phone number, so I didn’t do it online either.
Wait it out and take your time to find some real connections. Someone who’s serious, someone who’s getting you and liking you is absolutely not going to be phased by a little caution. Trust me.
Take Your Time
If you just want make some friends that’s one thing. But if you’re looking for love then it counts for a lot. Take your time getting to know, don’t feel it has to all happen at speed because it’s online. Your forum is the internet, but that doesn’t belittle in any way what you are looking for. So chase the rainbow, wait for the fireworks and thunder and lightning and try not to get sidetracked as you make friends along the way, because chances are you will.
Don’t get disheartened if you’re not dating and falling in love within weeks. I got seriously lucky. Hubby and I joined the site at the same time and as we were in the same area, we automatically pinged up on each others pages. I wonder often if I would have found him, or he me, in our searches otherwise.
Ready to Date?
Hubby and I chatted through the dating site for over 5 weeks before we took it to the next level and I accepted his invite of a date. And at this point, it felt right to give him my phone number but you’ll know when the time’s right for you.
After a long phone conversations, we arranged to meet somewhere in town. Two of my mates knew where and one of them was scheduled to call me an hour in and check in with me. Just like a normal first date huh?! But imagine how much more fun and relaxed our date was, already armed with all that information and feelings?
From here on in, it’s ‘normal’ dating and your own rules apply. You’ll know when or if you feel ready to take things further and importantly, whether the attraction you feel for this personality you’ve met online is physical too. Only a face-to-face meet can determine that for certain.
What Have You Got to Lose?
You might have an online dating experience like mine, and meet the man of your dreams in less than two months. You could!
You may also however try online dating for months and months, like a friend of mine did, and then give up sadly convinced that there are just no decent men out there.
Three weeks later, a new Bar Manager started at our local pub. Their eyes met, they smiled and said “Hi”. Fireworks …
And that’s life. Totally unpredictable, but mainly lots of fun if you let those opportunities just take you off sometimes.
So if you’re thinking about online dating or just tentatively starting I say go for it. Oh, and double check the New Bar Manager next time you’re out too!