| You hear it everyday. There are more and more people out there who have found love online. I am not surprised! From my experience, online dating is so much easier and better then offline dating.|
Just a few of years ago, I was single and very lonely. I was working long hours. Like most people I seemed to be spending more time at work then in my own home and my social life had gone completely by the way side. Sure, I was a single Mom that had to dedicate a lot of non-work time to my daughter, but even that was sparse. My non-parent friends found themselves in the same boat a lot of the time.
I found myself browsing through the chat rooms online during the evening in search of new friends or just someone else to talk to. Usually, I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise or found myself disgusted at some of the things that people would say. I thought about trying an online dating service, but was hesitant because of the stigma that it is “just for the desperate”.
Well, if that is true, then call me Ms. Desperate because I finally gave in to the urge and decided to take a peek at what online dating was all about. I quickly (at least as quickly as an old dial-up connection and 24K modem can get) discovered I had been missing out and wasting my time trying to do this through regular chat rooms.
Back then, I didn’t know much about the internet. In fact, the internet was pretty new to most people (this was before the millenium when I began my journey). My Dad had passed down a computer to my daughter and myself and I found myself intrigued by the world wide web. Since I was an AOL member, I found it quick and easy to browse the personal ads at Love@AOL which is now affiliated with Match.com.
I was amazed at the vast numbers of members already there. Of course, the odds are in women's favor. There are many more men in online dating services then women. Millions of people are already working on their search that I had been putting off . Already finding friendships and love while I had been being left behind. Sure, I tried dating the traditional offline ways. I went out with the girls when I could and tried to meet men in bars or at my cousin’s gigs. Men rarely seemed to approach and when they did, they always seemed interested in only one thing (and it wasn’t knowing my name). Things seemed different online
In offline dating, I found that relationships often turned to the physical before they had built a strong emotional base. You are drawn to someone offline because you find them attractive and sometimes even let lust get in the way. Online, I was able to get to know a little about a person before I ever even had to be in contact with them. I knew their interests, what kinds of relationships they were looking for, whether they had kids or even wanted them, and even most of the time what they looked like if they had posted a photo. Sure, there is always the chance that a person has posted a fake or old photo and have written lies about themselves. However, you find that offline with people too. If someone is going to misrepresent themselves online, they definitely will offline. I did find that I never seemed to run across anyone who had totally misrepresented themselves or their appearance. Being online gives you a sense of freedom. Freedom from humiliation and rejection. You never know if someone has come across your personal ad and just chose to not respond. So, who cares! It is not like going up to someone face to face and getting shot down so I believe most people tend to be pretty honest.
After I wrote emails to a few of the people whose personal ads intrigued me, I decided to post my own. Oh My God! The next day my email box was full of responses. I couldn’t even keep up with them all. I had to come up with a system to weed out some of the less magnetic people. If they wrote a form, not personal note, or wrote anything lewd, I would just delete it. Then I could focus on the ones that seemed to write more from their heart. I spent many a night writing emails and replying to emails from wonderful people. Some I would eventually drop off the list, and some I would eventually exchange phone numbers with. As a woman and especially as a single mom, I decided that giving them my pager number (eventually my cell phone when I got one) was better then giving them my phone number.
I would talk on the phone with these potential dates for hours at a time. We would take so much time getting to know each other that when it came time to meet face-to-face, the awkwardness that is there in offline dating, was non-existent. The only anxiety I would have was whether or not the chemistry we had over the phone and computer would be combined with a physical chemistry once we met.
All in all, I went on about 8 first dates with men I had met online before the one with my husband. A couple of them turned into second dates and fizzled, and one lasted a couple of months until we decided we made better friends then lovers. Most of these men were terrific.
I had sworn off dating in general for a while and had taken my personal ads offline. One day, I found myself bored during some down time at work and just for fun decided to browse the personal ads again. One person I found was the man I had had the relationship with in the past so I wrote to him under a fake name to play with him a bit. However, I couldn’t keep up the prank, so I quickly called him to tell him it was me (I stink at lying). Then I came across a young man with the warmest and most genuine smile I had ever seen.
His profile joked about my old favorite TV show so I knew we had something in common. I laughed out loud while reading his profile and found my fingers were typing a message to him before it even registered in my brain. We wrote back and forth to each other for a while, but lost touch for a bit around 9-11.
In January of the next year, he wrote an email out of the blue right after I had decided to swear off of dating for a while (not having a lot of offline luck). We started talking again and eventually moved our communication to the phone. His voice warmed me throughout and I would find myself being soothed after a stressful day at work just by the sound of his voice. We shared stories about our childhood, our life experiences, and our families and friends. We spent hours (at least 80) on the phone before the day we finally met face-to-face.
Anxiety gripped me as the reality that this man that I had fallen in love with through the computer and over the phone might not click with me in person. We had already built such a foundation for a great relationship and I didn’t want to see it go away. You just can’t control chemistry! However, if it was going to go forward the meeting had to happen and I just decided to go in with the attitude of “if we don’t click romantically, at least I have a new friend”.
The evening of our date came and butterflies buzzed through my stomach as he stood and approached me when I got to the restaurant where we were meeting. Quickly, I found I had nothing to worry about. Our conversation flowed smoothly without any of the awkward silences that occur in most first dates from offline introductions. We had drinks, dinner, and conversation for about 1 ½ hours. Then we went to a movie, which I normally don’t suggest on a first date but we had already done so much talking and taken so much time getting to know each other that it worked out fine.
When the date was over he walked me to my car and hugged me goodbye leaving me with the anticipation of our next date and possible first kiss.
The rest between us is history. Online dating brought him to me. I most likely never would have met him otherwise. Taking all the time we did to get to know each other allowed us to build a strong foundation of friendship to build a love relationship on. I had always dreamed I would marry a man who would be my best friend, and I did.
Now, I find that I meet people all the time who found their husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends online. It seems to be becoming the most popular way to meet new people. The possibilities are endless online. There are no borders or miles keeping you from meeting interesting, incredible people. You can choose how close or how far you want your new friends/lovers to be. The door is opened for you to meet people that you never would have in another way. You can get to know them (if you take the time) at a deeper level before you meet face-to-face. That way if you are drawn physically together, there is already something there to build upon. You can take your time, set your own pace, and get to know anyone from the safety of your own home. You don’t even have to get dressed up or put on your make-up to have an “online date”. It takes less effort, less time away from home, and gives you more options then offline dating. Now, I am a definite believer and a exuberant flag-waver. I have encouraged my best friends, my sister, and any other single persons I know to jump on this ever-growing bandwagon. Now I encourage you to give it a try.
About the Author
Jennifer Lester is an online dating expert who offers her advice and guidance through the world of online dating at her website: http://www.lovepersonally.com – The tour guide to your online dating experience.
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