Online Dating: Your Love Life Isn't Over at 40
I grew up with a very warped view of relationships. I don't remember my parents actually "loving" each other. My younger sister was born with a brain tumor and was sick her whole life. I remember them staying together for her. Once she passed away they drifted apart and the marriage crumbled. I was 14. We didn't have a family meeting, we didn't really talk about what was happening.
I was the middle child, very awkward and just didn't know where I fit in. Both of my parents decided after 15 years of marriage that was a wrap. I personally think that burned the entire idea of commitment when you marry someone. By the time I was 16, they had both moved on and found someone new to marry. They were in their 40's and to a young teenager that seems so ancient. How do "old people" find each other? And during that time it was the 80's. My mom found her third husband while working at a hospital in New Orleans and my dad found his second wife from answering a personal ad in a very popular magazine in the DC area.
Social Media and Dating apps is how people are meeting each other now. The flick of a finger to a picture that you see for a few brief minutes could be connecting you to the next best thing in your life or your worst nightmare. I didn't start using a dating site to meet people until after I turned 40. I was just coming out of a serious relationship of 9 years; and I wanted to meet someone that was not connected at all to our friend circle.
My ex and I did a lot of stuff in the city together, from Roller Derby to working for House of Shock Horror Show every October. Nobody wants to see their ex with anyone else even if you are the one that ended the relationship. At least, not right away. Of course, you want them to be happy. If you are the one that instigated the break up on good terms. If the dude is a total jerk you are more than likely going to day dream about him getting hit by a car.
You Can Still Be Hot in Your 40s!
Why I Pushed Myself Into Online Dating . . .
So like I said, I hit 40 and started looking around after my two kids went off on their own; and felt like I needed to see if I could make it on my own. I wanted to learn how to date again. Ever since I can remember I was a serial long term girlfriend. Almost every relationship I had since I was a teen lasted at least 6 months to a year if not longer. I have been proposed to so many times I started having a collection of engagement rings. I would get to year two or three and not know how to juggle and balance a relationship, living together, raising kids, working, and even going to college. I started thinking about each person I dated and how I met them....there was always a connection to someone or something. I have met several through mutual friends, at a party, or meeting someone through a job, or even when I was going to college. There was always a base connection.
Online dating is completely different. You are taking a major chance off a few pictures and a basic profile. Some sites are more detailed than others and really work on trying to find someone compatible to you based on a excessive amount of questions. Oh you like pizza? This person likes pizza. Let's link them together. That is the weirdest part for me is filling out the profile questions. You start feeling like a total loser because your life is pretty much being mapped out for strangers to look at and judge you. I am a pretty confident person, but found myself nervous like the first day of school. What if nobody likes me? What if I like someone and they don't like me back. It would be so devastating to be rejected by a total stranger that I will never have to meet! NOOOO! That turned out to be the best part for me. I don't like you? I don't have to take the time to meet you. That simple.
The first site I tried was OKCupid. It is free, and there seems to be a decent amount of cool people on there. However, I found out very quickly that the people that messaged me immediately about how I looked, just wanted to meet for a quick hook up. Even if their profile talked about how much they wanted to find "the one", it wasn't true. They were looking for "right now". Hey, we are all adults here. I have no problem with a random hook up as long as it is mutual and both people are being safe, but I honestly felt that I should be looking for more than that.
The immediate attention your profile gets on a dating site can be very addictive, especially if you were attention starved in a previous relationship. I posted some pictures, wrote up what I thought was a witty description of myself, and waited. I learned very quickly that there are some major weirdos out there and that I was going to have to shift through a bunch of random messages and profiles to find my new prince charming.
Online dating is a way to figure out what you like not only about yourself but what you like about others. My list of what I don't like was getting pretty long very quickly. Example? I don't want to see a picture of you with another person blacked out or obviously cropped out of your pic. Who was that person? Your ex? If you cannot take the time to have someone take a decent picture of yourself than I will not take you seriously at all. It makes me think that you also think very highly about yourself because you think nobody will notice the blob of a person next to you because you think you are so good looking.
Be honest with others. Post a full body pic in your profile. Be proud of your size, no matter what it is.
Another thing I don't like is the lack of a profile picture. Um no. I am not going to communicate with a cartoon pic or a picture of someone's chest. Creepy. I also want at least a few sentences, preferably a paragraph about you. Not even a sentence shows no effort on your part and just makes me wonder about how a conversation with you will go.
Them: "You're hot"
Them: "Wanna Meet?"
Me: "You don't know anything about me other than what you read on my profile."
Them: "Well you don't have to be a bitch."
I promise you, that is an actual conversation that I have had with more than one person. I started setting some major standards real fast, which actually came from experiences I had while meeting people. Remember you are not desperate. There truly is someone out there for everyone even if you feel completely alone right now. Do not give up and do not settle. Some of the rules I set for myself were pretty basic. No, I don't want to be in a poly-amorous relationship. No, I don't want to date anyone with small children because mine are grown. No, I don't want to date anyone that still lives with their parents. Pretty basic stuff right?
Nope, not for everyone. You will still get a weirdo now and then squeaking through the cracks that wasn't weeded out by your specific online dating alga-rhythms; so it is up to you to keep your cool and be honest. If someone hits you up that is a creeper, just say no thanks. My favorite out is, "I am sorry but I do not think we are a match and good luck to you!" 90% of the time, the response is "thank you for being honest and not ignoring me." Polite communication from the start will get you really far!
I tried a few other sites and met a few cool people on Plenty of Fish, Match, and Bumble. I am currently dating someone I met on OKCupid. We have been dating for almost six months and it is actually going really well. Is he "the one"? I have no idea. I am just enjoying the moment and the time we spend together. I broke the habit of trying to foresee into the future with a person after a couple of dates. We set the boundaries pretty early in the relationship to be monogamous and keep proper communication a priority.
I think what also makes a difference is that he is older than me and has already been through a lot of the stuff I have. Finding someone that is on the same page as you is tough, so just remember to take things one step at a time and don't drown each other in the new relationship high. Give each other space and the chance to miss each other, don't ditch your friends for this new person all the time, and always be honest. If something doesn't feel right...SAY SOMETHING.
Example of a Nice Normal Profile Pic
I gotta question for you!
Have you ever met anyone online before?
My 40th Birthday Pic
Things to Remember When You Meet Someone for the First Time
- Have a few phone conversations, not just text messages. If you cannot carry a conversation with a person on the phone; then how will it be when you are both face to face?
- Make them pick something unusual for a first date. Make sure it is public. I hate dinner and coffee dates. I don't want to sit across from each other and watch each other eat a full meal. It is worse when the conversation is awkward. Coffee Dates just tell me that you have a short attention span, don't want to spend more than 10$ on a first date, and that this is just a quick meeting to find out if we find each other attractive in person. Let's go bowling, to a show around town, take a weird paint class, look in the paper and see what is happening around town, any strange exhibits or art shows? One of my most interesting dates was a scuba lesson date.I thought that was super original and it gave us something to talk about. Afterwards we went to a neighborhood sandwich shop for lunch and then closed out the date with a make out session on my front porch.
- BE YOURSELF. but not really. Nobody wants to hear about who you were dating before unless they were super famous. I would want to know if my guy dated Madonna.....that is pretty dang cool. Tell me all about it as I sit closer to you because 90% of women love that shit. The dirt on celebrities. But seriously folks, I don't want to dish dirt on ex-wives, husbands, boyfriends, or girlfriends on the first date. It shows me that you have not moved on yet. It also makes you look petty.
- Dress for the occasion and dress comfortable. I always like the casual dates first because if you start off super fancy from head to toe you are going to want to see the other person like that all the time. Work up to a fancy date. For a female, light makeup and nice casual clothes can go a long way. I am not talking about putting on ripped jeans, an old rock shirt and flip flops either. You don't show that side either right away. I also don't want to see a dude in flip flops on a first date. I am a feet person. If you have freakish feet, we will never work. So you may want to keep your claws covered until I like you and can force myself to look past small things like that.
- Start the date with a good attitude. If you walk into a new situation as though you are making a new friend instead of a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, it takes off a lot of pressure. I always will tell a person before we meet face to face that if we do not vibe on each other, than we can still kick it as friends. You would be amazed at the response you get from the other person. "Wow, OK, cool!"
- Hygiene! Come on, don't come at me with some screwed up smile, hair a mess, clothes wrinkled, not shaved. Put forth some sort of effort! First impressions are everything!!! I love meeting a person for the first time and knowing that they have pulled out a nice shirt and pants for our first encounter, or have their facial hair looking all sharp and trimmed. It tells a person that you care about how you look and that your appearance is important. I despise the, "I don't care attitude".
- Don't sleep with someone on the first date. I am not old fashioned, but you are not going to make anyone want a second date if you are dishing everything out on the first date. I try to keep a three date rule. First date we kiss, Second date I feel you up, Third date I MIGHT hook up with you if I really dig you. Of course I have broken that rule occasionally and in retrospect it was either because I was rebounding from a previous relationship or just starving for attention. Women are weird creatures and I have attachment issues.
- Offer to pay for yourself. Don't expect the other person to pay for everything. After all, you just met. The other person pays...they will expect something in return. You go 50/50 on a first date, you are even playing ground. If the other person absolutely insists, then ok, but tell them you are getting the tab the next time. That let's them know you are interested in them and already thinking about a second date.
- Don't talk about yourself all the time. You don't have to cram your whole life story into the first date. It is nice to have a bit of mystery and other stuff to talk about. I hate it when someone dumps everything on me all at once. I immediately feel as though they are looking at me as a free therapist and I am supposed to help them sort through their problems.
- TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF OR ON VIBRATE. It is so freaking rude to have your cell phone out. The only reason you should pull out your phone is to take pictures of whatever you might be doing if you are having a fun time. The rest of the date, keep your phone put away. Now if you have a career where you are on call, that of course is completely different....so make sure you let the other person know before you meet them, what kind of work you do and what to expect when it comes to your cell phone.