As a matchmaker I’ve talked to thousands of singles over the years, and I’ve heard it all. Getting back out there is scary. But it’s not as scary as you think once you start doing it. Really.
I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a client going online for the first time. At 45 and never married, she led a rich life and had so much to offer: she was an attractive, active, successful Investment banker. She booked a board room for our call, and as we talked she burst into tears. Having to post photos and ‘sell herself’ to find a partner felt demoralizing and humiliating. But she did it. And she got lucky. She started dating the first man she met on Match – a partner in a law firm who likely shared her misgivings about online dating.
Or how about an architect in her 60s from NYC who feared entering the scene a decade after her marriage ended. We talked on the phone almost daily, about each person she considered meeting, questions to ask, what to wear, what to do on a date and after a date… She too got lucky and has been dating the first man she met for over a year. A great success story, but not without initial misgivings. This is an email I received from her a few weeks after meeting her current partner:
“The date went really well… I do like him!! I’m thinking I’m so new to this dating thing… I’m a little worried about how I’m doing !! He took me out for my birthday and so I invited him to dinner at my house on Sunday! It’s kind of moving quickly and I’m really being very honest… maybe too honest… wow! I’ve been out of this for way too long….feeling all kinds of things… excited, vulnerable, hopeful. So glad I signed up for this!!”
So how to get over these reservations and doubts? Here are some pointers to help get you started:
Enlist a friend. Find a comrade in arms who is in the same situation and take the plunge together. Share stories, tag team evenings out, commiserate over the bad dates and celebrate the good ones. It’s always more fun and motivating with a friend…. If she keeps going when you want to quit, you’re more likely to stick it out. I work out with three friends for the same reason…I know I should go to the gym, but need the motivation when I’m feeling lazy.
Research: There is loads of info online about getting back out there. Or talk to friends who have dating experience. They often have the best tips and local expertise. OKC may be perfect in Manhattan but fruitless in LA.
Have fun: If you can take this experience with a grain of salt, you won’t get personally offended by low response rates, rude emails, ghosting or the gall of someone totally unsuitable contacting you in the first place. If you can laugh about it, at the very least you’ll have some good stories to share with your friends!
Take baby steps: Don’t dive in head first. Take time to set up your profile and pick photos, limit the time you spend online each day, and start with one site only. Keep your profile hidden until it truly expresses who you are.
Talk about it: If you are worried about what your friends will think, stop. There is no longer any stigma to online dating and in fact, your friends will wonder why you aren’t online yet.
Set aside the time. Life is so busy, it’s hard enough to see your own friends, let alone meet strangers you might never see again. Set aside 20 minutes a day and make it happen.
So yes, while it is hard to take that first step and start dating, once you make the decision, you’ll figure it out quickly and get used to it. Whether online or IRL, dating really has not changed much since everyone was doing it!
And remember this great quote from Yeats: “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”