Yes, I know, this isn't a dating blog. But it's mine and I can write what I want, and I'm going through a bit of a transition where I'm planning to streamline The Fragile X Files so it's quicker and easier for me to do updates, because I don't have the time to sit at the computer that I used to, but I still want to write.
A friend recently wrote a blog post about her personal experiences with divorce, being a single mom to kids with special needs, and her hesitations at jumping back into the dating pool. Like so many others these days, she's considering trying out online matchmaking, and finding the prospects there somewhat... lacking. To be kind.
Back when Mark and I met, the online dating scene was still fairly immature. I don't think Match.com was even around yet. Yahoo and AOL and some news sites had matchmaking sections, I think Yahoo's was the most prominent at the time. I don't know exactly what online dates are looking like these days, but I can imagine that it's the same as 15 years ago - only with about a million more people to sort through. I can imagine that it's daunting, to think about getting in there!
Here's some things I learned and would suggest for anyone considering dipping their toes into the online dating pool:
1. Lower your expectations, but not your standards. There are going to be many, many fish you throw back before you find a keeper. Know that before you even throw your line in the pond.
2. Don't be scared. There actually are people out there just like you - freaked out at the prospect of meeting strangers, yet carrying a glimmer of hope that somewhere, someone decent is out there.
3. That said, you will have to sort through quite a pile of crap to find a jewel (boy, could I tell you some stories.... maybe in another post). So my suggestion is, have first dates only on weekday evenings if possible, and make sure you have later-in-the-evening plans so you can't get trapped into a long, boring date. It's not a good idea to meet someone for the first time on, say, a Saturday for lunch, with no firm plans for the afternoon, and then get sucked into spending the whole day with someone whom you could tell from the first 17 seconds was absolutely not going to be "the one." Consider those first in-person dates to be interviews, and short ones. Meet for coffee.
4. Don't get all attached to someone through email and phone conversations only to find out when you meet in person, there's nothing there. I learned this the hard way. I had hours-long, great talks with a guy I met online, and the first time we met in person I saw him coming through the door and immediately thought, "please don't let that be him. Oh, no, that's him...."
5. Now that you think I'm shallow and lower than dirt for judging someone on appearance, come on - admit it - there's either something of a spark, a possible attraction there, or there's not. I know I'm no supermodel, and I didn't expect to meet one. but I did feel there needed to be at least a hint of a physical connection there, or we were both wasting our time. (By the way, we went out quite a few times - I didn't immediately dismiss him because I wasn't attracted to him. I spent time with him, trying to make that connection we had on the phone translate to an in-person relationship. It didn't happen.)
6. Get on with your life. Don't build your days around dates/interviews. Do what you do - work, play, read, dance, whatever - and fit in meeting people on the side. Be open to the possibility of meeting someone, but don't make it the ultimate definition of a successful life. I know, that's what everyone says, and it's easy to say that when you are comfortably in a relationship. But it's true. Desperation is not attractive and you aren't good at hiding it. No, you aren't. So stop it.