Newly divorced? Widowed? Single? Are you A baby boomer completely out of the loop when it comes to the online dating world? If you’ve been urged by well meaning family and friends to get back in the saddle, here are some helpful tips to get you started in online dating. Personally, I think online dating provides a great safety net for getting to know someone.
1. Dynamic, well-written profile and picture. People, people, please have someone else check your spelling and grammar. Nothing is more of a turn off than poorly written text riddled with spelling errors in a profile. Spel cheque duz knot cache all miss steaks. Read and re-read what you have written to present to the online dating world. Let your profile rest overnight and look at it again with fresh eyes the next day. Don’t include pictures of your dog or car, even if they’re your most treasure possessions. We want to know who YOU are. Be aware of the background in your picture. I’ve seen pictures where the background is full of junk piles of every type. This does not make a good first impression. Also, include current pictures, not from 10 years ago when you were fit and trim and wrinkle-free. It’s the same as in a business; under promise, over deliver.
2. Searching Profiles. When I’ve been on various dating sites, I auto-delete any profiles without pictures. Granted, someone can put whatever picture they want on the site and pretend to be anyone, but still…a picture is necessary. Personally, I auto-delete any profiles that only say “I’ll tell you later.” There are too many con artists out there, both men and women, who want to put any bait out that they can. Look for well written profiles without the standard text that says they like walks on the beach and romantic dinners. Look for happy-looking people with genuineness in the writing. Watch out for the “too good to be true’s,” and look for how many kids they have and how many still live at home. Unless you’re willing to re-locate, only browse local profiles. You’ll save a ton of time.
3. Making a First Contact. When you find someone you think might be a possibility, send a short note, introducing yourself. Don’t tell your life story. I’m not a big fan of “flirts”, the icons that communicate kisses, hugs, I like your profile, I’m in love, etc. Some people even directly say on their profiles that they will not respond to flirts. On the other hand, if they are sending you “kisses” in the first flirts, watch out, it could be a booty call. I may be old-fashioned but being too bold right out of the starting gate is not a good sign. If someone contacts you first, and you’re not interested, you’re not obligated to write back. Don’t give out too many details about your life or daily schedule when making initial communication.
4. Ask the Right Questions and “Listen” Between the Lines. The saying goes, “you don’t know until you ask.” Ask a few questions via the website and only if you feel comfortable, exchange personal emails. Move at a pace YOU feel comfortable with. Since some people are not confident in their writing skills, they (or you) might suggest a phone conversation. Either way, you are trying to meet someone, so asking questions is part of the normal process. Ask general questions about their lifestyle, interests, etc. If you feel the person is receptive, ask general questions about their family but don’t get too deep. If they’ve included hobbies, ask about them as well.
It’s so important that, as they’re talking, you “listen” between the lines to what they’re really saying. Listen for negative, pessimistic attitudes about life and family. Listen for “visions of grandeur” talk, big promises, and too many compliments. Listen very carefully to how they talk about their ex-spouse(s). It’s relatively easy to “hear” bitterness or blaming entire break-ups on the other person. These are all red flags. Of course, you want them to ask about you too so be ready to answer truthfully but not in great detail. If the conversation is all about them and you can’t get a word in edge-wise, it’s probably how it’s going to be. If you don’t feel it’s going well, excuse yourself and end the conversation. If it’s going well, agree to talk again, but don’t agree to meet yet. You need a few more conversations to determine when and how you’ll want to move forward. Even though we’re baby boomers with life experience, we still need discernment and wisdom in this new arena of online dating.
5. The First Meeting. The phone conversations have gone well. You’re feeling more comfortable with this person and you seem to have some common interests. Time to meet. Suggest a public place and put a time limit on it. Have somewhere else to go at a certain time. This may not be entirely true and you can adjust that if the meeting goes better than expected. An afternoon lunch works nicely.
The main thing I stress is to just be yourself – don’t overdress or try to impress with status or money. Women, watch the cleavage – lack of clothing spells one thing to a guy seeking only a booty call. If you are asked to choose a place, choose somewhere moderately priced and definitely offer to pay for your own meal. Men, I know women are also out for booty calls too so if she’s being too aggressive, know that she’s done this before…probably lots of times and you are only the present prey. At this meeting, be mindful of eye contact and body language. Women, if you sense him mentally undressing you…ding ding…run for the hills…he has one goal…to get into the playstation. The topic of intimacy should not even come up in the first meeting.
I remember one date I went on with someone I met online. We had a few phone conversations and agreed to meet for dinner. Once seated, he asked if I would stand up beside the table and turn around so he could check out my bod. Are you kidding me? Uh, NO. That was obviously the one and only date we ever had.
If the other person is asking a lot about your financial status and seem to be obsessed with it…ding ding…run for the hills. This should be a light-hearted, general SHORT story-telling meeting. There’s no need to tell your long, sad divorce story at this meeting. If they ask, just say you’ve learned a lot from your past relationships and they’ve made you stronger. A good way to start the conversation is, “Tell me about your…” Just as in the telephone conversations, they should be asking about your life too. A one-sided conversation either way is just plain boring.
Another first date I had comes to mind. The phone conversations had gone well and we agreed to meet. The man talked non-stop for 2 hours straight. I learned he worked in a mental hospital and had a 7-ft. Boa Constrictor. Ding, ding. That was enough to convince me that this wasn’t my prince charming. Not one question about me or my life. At the end of the two hours (yes, I stayed), he told me how much he enjoyed the conversation…conversation, what conversation? He didn’t even take a breath so I could even respond or utter a word. He told me how he felt he could tell me anything. Wow, uh…NO again. Bye. Bye.
There you have it. These five tips can get you started to a wise and successful online dating experience. Yes, there are lots of crazies and cons out there, both men and women. There is also a lot of really nice people, just needing to connect with someone else. I have made lifelong friendships through online dating sites. I’ve also been taken by a professional con artist through online dating. I haven’t found Mr. Right yet and I hope I meet him before I’m so old that I have to tell him what he missed. The Bible says, “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” That is the best advice I can give anyone who’s looking online for the love of their life.