Is online dating an exercise in frustration for you? Are you wondering why it seems to work for other people, but you feel as if you’re just wasting your time?
I remember my first experiences with trying to put together an appealing (but not bragging) profile, writing an engaging and witty “About Me” section as well as trying to make it clear what type of guy would be a good complement to me.
All to discover that about 95% of men who came across my online profile never bothered to read my carefully crafted prose or even consider whether we had compatible values and lifestyles- instead they commented on my 7 professional photos which showed me both full length and then up close in a variety of settings and outfits.
As for THEIR photo, if they had one it was usually an out of focus, grainy selfie they had taken with their cell phone in their bathroom mirror- or they share a photo where you can see that a previous wife, girlfriend or daughter has been partially cropped out.
My expectations that I had when I began trying out online dating after divorce have gone from high octane- ( I’m destined to meet the right one THIS MONTH) to low octane (is that the same guy’s photo and bare-bones profile I saw on the other 3 dating sites I was previously on? Can’t he come up with something new? Why is he still single?)
Yet, like many women who find themselves divorced at mid-life I still hope to meet a compatible man and so I’ve chosen not to break up completely with online dating despite its significant shortcomings. Here are some ways to shorten the learning curve if you’re new to online dating:
1. Does he even have an up close photo? If there’s no actual photo or he says he’ll provide one later, carefully consider that he may be married or separated and does not want to risk being outed by someone from work or his inner circle who may see his online photo.
2. Does his email to you appear to be generic? If it loaded full of excessive flirtations and compliments, its likely to be one he sends to many women in the hopes of snagging a few who are starved for attention and flattery.
3. Use extra precautions when using free dating websites. We all enjoy free things- but keep in mind that a person who is married or sharing a significant other is drawn even more to free sites since they don’t require payment by credit card which leaves a financial trail behind. Also, if a man is paying an on-going subscription for an online site, he’s probably more invested in actually going out on dates rather than just playing online by winking or scanning through photos.
4. Don’t become tempted to become his helpful online therapist. Are you a fixer? Does it feel rewarding to try to figure out and solve his problems? Are you asking him questions that are too personal before meeting him in real life? Don’t use your first few emails to ask about why his marriage ended, how long his post-divorce relationships lasted or if he plans to get married again. Instead inquire about how long his divorce has been final and keep in mind that if its been less than one year, he’s probably still adjusting to all the changes that come with the fall-out from divorce and still in the process of sifting through his emotions of anger, guilt and sadness.
5. After 5 email exchanges, stop emailing him. You do want a relationship with a real life man don’t you? Continuing the email pen pal back and forth exchange won’t give him any incentives to arrange a real date with you! And if he doesn’t want to meet with you by then, why not? Not wanting to meet you within a reasonable time is surely a red flag.
6. Don’t respond to unwanted attention from men that you aren’t truly interested in. Although some dating experts say to respond to each and every guy that emails you, I’ve discovered the hard way that some guys get angry if you explain that you’re not a match. For safety’s sake, just move on.
7. When meeting with him in person, listen more and talk less. If you’re like me, the more nervous you are, the easier it becomes to chatter too much on a first or second date. Since body language experts claim that 93% of communication is expressed non-verbally, it’s wise to focus on your date’s mannerisms, gestures and tone of voice. Then you’ll benefit from listening to your intuition to help you decide if you want to continue to see him again.
What are your experiences with online dating so far?