When I got separated and then divorced six years ago, the world of dating had gone through a change. Internet dating was well underway and the quaint idea of friends introducing you to other friends seemed to have gone the way of the horse and buggy. There were still bars and clubs, but those options didn’t appeal to me when I was young enough to consider them, and when my hearing was still good enough to survive the over-the-top decibels in such environments.
So, it was a brand new world for this middle-aged guy, and Internet dating was the method-du-jour. I had my two young sons full-time so dating of any kind meant babysitters, or meeting during school hours. Later, the issues became how much to disclose to the boys and when and if I should introduce them to a date.
I circumvented the standard profiles by changing mine, literally daily, making my profile in essence a blog. Oddly enough, I developed quite a following of (women) readers across the country. In its own way, that was the beginning of my writing career. I did the rest that was required and posted photos that were relatively current and I didn’t even Photoshop them too much.
But I quickly learned that truth was quite evasive on the Internet. While I didn’t peruse the profiles of the men on the dating sites that I used, I certainly became familiar with the women. It wasn’t rocket science to read between the lines. No photo meant there was a reason for no photo. Headshot only, meant there was a reason as well. Only one photo was equally suspicious. And, for us male slugs, let’s face the truth that our first impression is based on appearance.
What I also learned was that online dating was no different, in its essence, from in-person dating. The man did the pursuing; the woman did the choosing. Exceptions to every rule always exist, but I found I was reaching out to the women far more than the reverse. Quickly, I developed a thick skin, as maybe I would get a response to one in ten of the e-mail messages that I sent out.
The attractive women, at least attractive by the photos they posted, would sometime receive literally thousands of e-mail messages. I began dating one woman who told me that during a period of ten days, when we first began dating, she hadn’t checked her inbox. When she did, it had 9,000 e-mail messages. It certainly raised the question, why did she choose me? As great as I may think I am, I’m also realistic. The answer was quite sobering, as she said: the only way she could handle that volume was to do “eine meenie minie moe.” I was one of the lucky “moe’s” and what I wrote made her laugh, and that’s how we connected. Truly, lottery luck.
Before I tell you how I met Loren, my wife, I’d like to offer ten simple, non-gender specific dating tips; let’s call this Internet Dating 101:
1. If there’s no photo, there’s a reason. Move on.
2. Be patient. It’s a numbers game. Therefore, hang in there.
3. Don’t spend too much time e-mailing and chatting. If you feel there might be some chemistry, set up a meeting. First meeting is coffee only. Don’t make elaborate plans. If you like each other, there’s plenty of time for that. Also, if they’re too busy or it’s too difficult to schedule something, move on.
4. Don’t believe what you read. Be skeptical, but open. Most women lie about their age and weight; most men about their income and height.
5. Tell the truth about yourself — period, end of issue, no excuse.
6. Be clear on what you want and express it in your profile. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth. For example, if you’re a woman and you just don’t like men with thinning hair, save him and you the waste of time by being clear about that in your profile. For a guy, if height or weight is important to you in a woman, be honest about it.
7. While I tend to diss self-help books, the book “He’s Really Not Into You” had some plain truths. If there are signs of disinterest, he or she is disinterested. And, often, it has nothing to do with you. Move on.
8. Men and women, over 35 or so, if never married, are often trouble. Not just the men. Women who have never married are as set in their ways as men, and (I’m going to get killed for this) probably more hung up on their careers (note: this is the one that gets the most criticisms. To be clear, it’s a generality NOT a rule. And to be even more up front, I was 39 when I first got married and, frankly, I was a bit of “trouble” back then. When I divorced and started dating again, I heard the rap on guys that if they weren’t married by their mid-30’s there usually was a good reason, yet I found the women I met during that period who hadn’t been married were just as possibly “trouble” as I was back then and, in so many cases, really truly stuck in their ways. So, criticize away, but I stand by this regarding men AND women, but acknowledging again that there are exceptions to most generalities).
9. Always, if you’re a woman, meet in a public place and only give out your cell number, if you don’t call the guy yourself first (which is better).
10. Be patient and don’t take it personally.
I met Loren exactly the way I’ve described above, by sending her an e-mail, based on her attractive photo and profile. She claimed to read every one of the thousands of e-mail messages that she received and mine also made her laugh. We set up a coffee date. I completely forgot about our meeting! Yup, I forgot, leaving her stood-up thinking what I jerk I was. When I realized my horrific mistake, I called. She took the call with the full intention of blowing me off. The degree of my mea-culpas won her over. She said that the fact that I had kids made her think my mind might have been temporarily made of mush. We set a second date. The rest, another time, but suffice it to say, the second date was successful enough for a third — and more. We were married on December 27, 2008.