Eight years ago, while I was still living in Philadelphia, I received a solicitation in my spam folder that changed my life forever; it was an invitation to join an online dating site by the name of Mate1. While I wasn’t actively looking for someone nor was I interested in the relatively new concept of dating online, the “free for women, for life” disclosure in the subject sparked my curiosity. So, instead of trashing the piece of mail, I decided to open it and follow the link to the site. I created a quick profile to gain entrance and proceeded with extreme skepticism. I fully expected to be bored and annoyed by the experience, but I wasn’t.
As I explored the functions of the website my fondness grew; there were tons of profiles created by interesting characters from around the world. There were guys of all kind – weird ones, smart ones, military ones, really cute ones, not so much ones – and I enjoyed getting to know them all. There was something somehow powerful about dating with the barrier of the computer screen; my shyness magically disappeared, I was instantly confident, outspoken and funny. Mate1 was a blast.
One day while searching the site I stumbled upon the profile of a man who stole my heart. He was 16 years my senior, a hunter, a runner, the owner of two big dogs and the father of a teenage girl. Oh, and he lived 10 hours away. A lthough we had very little in common, there was something about him that kept my attention. A few days later, I chatted him up and we connected straightaway. I fell in love with him instantly and our relationship progressed quickly. We did the long-distance thing for a while; chatting online, talking on the phone and monthly visits. It was beautiful, crazy and scary all at once . Three years after we met, we got married in a cute little chapel in Dunbar, WV and I gave birth to a perfect little girl. Today, we live in Northern Kentucky and our daughter is now five; she loves to hunt with her daddy and make crafts with her mommy. Life is good.
While my online dating story has a happy ending, the road to happy was an extremely bumpy one, mostly because I decided to turn my brain off and rely on the direction of my heart. Listen to this, the first time we met in person, I hopped on the greyhound and rode sixteen hours to see him (layovers suck). I lost my job because I was caught chatting instead of working (I hated that job anyway), and I ignored the advice of my family and I moved in with his mother (I swear, it sounded like a good idea at the time). The choices that I made were reckless, costly and just plain stupid. Although I am now happily married to my best friend, our courtship was anything but smooth.
If you want to find love online, here are some tips on what not to do to get there.
1. Don’t be fake.
There are many ‘fakes’ in the online dating world because with the protection of a screen we can be whoever we want to be. It is important, however, to really be yourself. Being fake waste time, hurts feelings and can makes you look like a loser. If you feel like you have to fake-it-up in order to get a date, you should think about doing some self-improvement before you start looking.
2. Don’t meet in isolated areas.
In this ugly world we live in, I cringe at the fact I bused it for 16 hours to meet someone I ‘fell in love’ with over the internet. Don’t do that. Instead, opt to meet this guy or gal at a local public place. Restaurants, malls, libraries and parks are all great places to meet in person for the first time.
3. Listen to your heart and your brain.
Don’t shut your brain off. Instead, listen to your brain in unison with your heart and don’t ignore the advice given to you.
4. Avoid long distance dating.
My husband and I did the long distance thing for three long years. It was annoying, expensive and frustrating. I loved it when I saw him and I hated it when I missed him. Now that I don’t get to miss him anymore, I am stuck missing my family. You see, the trouble with long distance relationships is eventually one person is going to have to move or the relationship won’t last. I moved because he had a daughter and the better job. I knew that I would miss my family, but I didn’t realize that I would miss them this much. Seeing them just once a year is a new form of torture, so to avoid the heartbreak, try to date locally.
5. Don’t quit looking.
When I met my husband, no one else mattered. In fact, we took our courtship off Mate1 soon after because I just knew he was ‘the one’. Unless you get the same feelings I had, don’t stop looking at other profiles. The beauty of online dating is that it’s open to causal dating, so keep your options open until you find that someone who makes you forget that anyone else exists.