My friends joke that I should write a book about my online dating adventures: after more than a decade, it would be a pretty big book! From the guy that turned up in a white coat, smiling as he muttered ‘I wanted to test if we had chemistry’, to the man who was at least twenty years older and twenty stone bigger than his profile picture. To my brother who joked it was easier to call them all ‘Richard’ rather than remembering fleeting names – it’s been quite a journey!
I had just turned 40 when I filled in my first online dating profile and it all seemed quite innocent then.
Like many women who are coming out of a divorce, I was looking for some fun, companionship and romance.
As I logged in I viewed all the faces with the same old -fashioned lens I had used in the past when dating men I had met at work or through friends.
And that was the first, hard lesson: life online is a very different game, and you need to keep your wits about you!
Now online dating is a way of life and can be real fun – I have been on some great dates, met some interesting men and even let my girlfriends choose some hot dates for me or update my profile.
And yes, I have also met the man of my dreams!
Kev – my online dating jackpot!
Here’s what I have learnt:
1. Be aware of the classic dating types
I’ve been tricked in the past and hurt by men that I let into my life – and I guess it has taught me to look deeper, to take my time to get to know the genuine guys and not look for instant gratification.
But in the meantime, see the 6 types of guys I’ve met while online dating, it’s important to know all of them. Although these types are common it’s always important to give people a chance and let go of any preconceptions, in fact, I forgot my checklist and started to date someone in the separated category – and have never been happier!!
2. Speak sooner rather than later
If you want a pen pal then online dating has lots of those: there are a lot of lonely people out there who use online dating to fill in those quiet nights. But if you really want romance it is best to talk on the phone sooner rather than later – that way you can see if you really have anything in common early on. If you feel you have some connection on the phone then it is worth meeting.
3. Be yourself on a good day
It’s a sad fact of online dating that people lie – often about their age or their status. I learnt to be a little bit forgiving on these matters but was always truthful about myself. I’d make an effort with my appearance on a first date – a smart but casual outfit and appropriate make-up, for instance. I always found it was best to keep things relaxed and to be myself.
But be beware that not everyone is so truthful!
4. First dates – keep them short, simple and safe
Arrange a 15-minute coffee date, and then extend the time if you get on. There is nothing worse that arranging a big, expensive meal on a first date and in the first minute realising it is a mismatch! So keep it simple, in public, away from home and then you can go wild on date two if all goes well.
5. Practice makes perfect
After a decade online I discovered “The One”. It was a classic case of nearly giving up and then he turned up: he was not what I was expecting and has more baggage than Heathrow airport … and I love him.
So keep looking, try out different sites and don’t be afraid to meet different types of guys. Be flexible, a little bit savvy, and have fun!
By Louise Proddow