I have several friends lately who are just newly divorced and starting to think about dating again. After many years in a marriage, no matter how bad it was, one can really miss the companionship of another adult. And, yes, one misses the sex too. Although, in some cases, the sex might have been nonexistent long before the marriage ended or it might have the reason the marriage ended.
Whatever the situation, many of my now single friends are trying to negotiate this new world that I refer to as “Post 40 World” (even though some of us are not really post-40, all of us feel like it) where we are now single, in our 40’s, not ever wanting to be here at this stage of our lives and with a boatload of responsibilities (aka, baggage). We try to date, and if our personal worlds don’t bring us near any prospective individuals that we can even consider talking with over coffee, we turn to the online arena.
Online dating has advantages and disadvantages. It’s been said that in 2006, 1 in 8 married couples met online. I can only imagine the number has swelled in the last few years. As one who recieved her graduate degree online, and feels fairly comfortable with the way the digital world can expand our ability to connect with those from places we might otherwise only read about in books, online dating doesn’t scare me. However, I say that, knowing full well, I’ve been very, very fortunate so far. Those I’ve met have been decent people. Only one in probably a hundred or so folks have lied about their age and that’s pretty good. No one, so far, has stalked me, though there have been several that I wished would have.
Today I received an email from a friend who is just recently and hesitantly venturing out into the world of online dating. He’s a card carrying member of “Post 40 World”. Married his true love and when he did so he did it for life but she didn’t have the same agenda. She’s moved on and now he’s here in “Post 40 World” wondering how to navigate the terrain. Well, like I’m the world’s greatest expert in this. Anyone who reads my blogs can tell I struggle with trying to figure out how to do the dating thing when things are so very different than they were when you were in college and had your whole life (and your best body) going for you. So, I gave my friend some pointers. Here’s what I said. Look the advice over and see what you would add:
1. Create an alias and don’t reveal your true identity until after you have met the person in the flesh. Okay, you can give out your first name, but much other than that, just don’t! Remember, if they have even your last name they can find out exactly where you live.
2. Don’t believe the pictures. I’ve been burned and had many friends who’ve been burned by the fake picture. It’s disappionting and a huge waste of emotional time and energy when it happens. Hold everything at arm’s distance until you meet.
2a. Be very cautious of someone who doesn’t post any pictures and isn’t willing to send you any. Be equally cautious of the person who posts a picture that looks airbrushed or like it is of a magazine model. (It just might be.)
3. Don’t spend a lot of time chatting online. Exchange a few emails, get to know enough to determine if you would like to meet or not, then meet. You can create this big fantasy online and then when you meet be completely disappointed and heartbroken. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.
4. Be cautious of the person who after a few tries still finds excuses not to meet or talk on the phone. I personally hate to talk on the phone, but will do it. I’d rather just meet. If the person is unwilling to do either, suspect that a.) they are not really interested in a relationship like you are or b.) they are not really female.
5. Be very suspicious of those who cannot communicate reasonably well in writing.
6. Never entertain further communication from those who ask you for money…it is probably a scam from someone outside the country.
7. Trust your gut (you already know this, I know). If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
8. Don’t make a dinner date your first meeting. Something light and casual like coffee or a walk is great. It can be shortened or lengthened as you feel and you don’t have to endure a long night with a lot of expense if the interest factor just isn’t there.
9. Obviously, don’t tell anyone where you live until you’ve checked them out and know they are who they say they are.
These items are the most salient points I could think of on the fly. I realize I am pretty inexperienced in this realm, after all, I’ve only been dating for about a year and a half. I’m still evolving in my view of what it is all about. I feel I’ve had a good experiences overall with online dating, but I’ve also been very foolish and very lucky because worse things didn’t happen than did (in other words, it could have been so much worse and you could have read about me in the papers…I’ve really been that fortunate). I also live in a much smaller area and not a big metro urban area…so, maybe the risks are fewer? Not sure about that one, but it sounded good.
What else can everyone add to help those out who are trying to find their way in this Brave New Post Marriage Dating World?