If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I was a long time resident of Loserville. A 10-year resident to be exact, and after a friend convinced me to try Match.com where I met the love of my life, I packed up my things and moved out of town for good.
Many of you have followed up with that post by asking me about online dating. Well, here's my advice and two-cents, which really isn't much. After all, it's only two cents worth so don't sue me.
I met my husband online!
(And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't think that I am calling anyone else a loser for not being married or in a relationship. I call myself that simply because I was so ready to meet someone that I easily would have settled for Mr. Close-But-Not-Exactly-Mr-Right. But I got lucky this time. Or it was divine intervention. Either way -- trust me. If there's FourSquare in Loserville, I'm pretty sure I'm still the Mayor.)
Use your brain
When deciding to find a date online, safety is first and foremost. There are a lot of whackos out there but on the flip side, there are a lot of good people that are serious about wanting to meet someone. Use your common sense at all times. Most on-line sites won't allow you to post contact information. You must go through their site to contact a person. Don't give out any personal information until you are sure you are ready to talk in person.
"How YOU doin'?"
Introduce yourself. For me, I sent Dale a "wink," which is Match.com's way of saying "Hey, you're a cutie and I am interested." So yes, since I sent Dale a wink first, I take full credit for this relationship. If they are interested, they will respond.
Cyber stalk him
After we e-mailed each other back and forth I had enough information to Google him and had already checked out his Facebook page and his LinkedIn profile within the first few days. I saw pictures of his parents before I even knew their names. I found his ex-wife's Facebook and Twitter pages. I found articles on awards that he had received on software he had written. My point is, do some simple research. Thank God Al Gore invented the internet so that we could do cyber-research on someone without them even knowing!! You might want to run a background check on them or even find their divorce information on line -- it's all public information. Now I didn't do those things, but I'm pretty sure my Dad did.
Talk to each other
We talked on the phone like silly teenagers -- up until two or three in the morning about the most random stuff. You can learn a lot about someone just over the phone. Use your intuition -- if something seems off then it just might be. (I didn't give him my home number -- just my cell number. I knew my home number could be traced to my home address, and I wasn't ready to let anyone know where I lived.
Meet in public
We decided to meet at a very public park, where it would be more difficult to kidnap me and make a skin suit out of me if that was his intention. Let someone know where you are going and give them a link to the page of the person you are meeting. Sounds a bit overcautious but just think about the skin suit and you won't feel like you're overreacting.
Go the 20 questions route
We talked about everything from politics, religion, kids, reasons why we were divorced, reasons why we turned to on-line dating, what our parents do, etc. This is a great way to get to know someone else, and fun conversation, too.
Meet his friends and let him meet yours
If he doesn't have friends or "isn't ready" for you to meet his friends within a few weeks of dating that red flag is waving at you. Dale met six of my closest friends on our second date. I was scheduled to do a triathlon with three of my girlfriends and we all met up for dinner to fill up on carbs. Poor Dale -- he was answering questions right and left, but got the thumbs up from my girlfriends before dessert was even served. Trust me, your friends will tell you if your potential date is from Loserville.
Dale and I were really comfortable talking on the phone so when we met, the conversation transitioned very easily from introductions to life stories. Within the first hour of meeting in person, I knew about a near fatal car wreck he had when he was 17. There are going to be times when you can’t stay up until two in the morning on the phone. It doesn't matter if it's a long conversation or text messages, or e-mails, just get to know each other every single day.
Meet each other's kids, and let the kids meet each other
Our kids were 15, 10 and 8 when they first met. The oldest worked at an ice-cream shop at the time so it was a perfect place to bring the younger kids. Make the kids comfortable when they are meeting potential step-siblings. Things are changing for them so you need to pay extra attention to their thoughts and feelings.
Meet each other's families
Who better to give you input than your families? My father is retired military, and a judge ... and my maiden name was Gunn, so he's Judge Gunn. He is extremely conservative, so when I told him that I met the man of my dreams and we were getting married after only knowing each other for four weeks, my parents were more than a bit skeptical -- as were Dale's parents. We decided to get everyone together to meet. After dinner, my father pulled me aside and said "Okay. I get it. He's your perfect match." (Then I think he ordered a full background check on my new fiancé. LOL!)
You may meet the love of your life immediately or it may take a few tries. Don't try to make something work if it doesn't feel right and don't rush it if you aren't ready.
Dating isn't brain surgery. It's about meeting new people and seeing if there is a connection. Look at it this way -- even if there isn't chemistry, you got out of the house and did something out of your comfort zone .. and you may have gotten a free dinner out of the deal! Score!