While online dating is all the rage with young singles, it can be an intimidating proposition for post-40-year-old women and men, myself included. I never knew much about online dating at all, but after my separation, I was ready for romance.
I was at a break in a marketing conference when my co-worker and friend Tad told me about his experiences with on a popular dating site. I knew next to nothing. He explained you can read profiles, view stats (including height and religious affiliations) and then message people, all under the anonymity of a username.
The idea tantalized me, and I soon drafted a profile. Because I'm a writer by profession, describing myself was not difficult. I found a few cute photos and clicked "submit." Each night when I got home from work, I checked the site. I could see how many men had visited my profile, and I would eagerly open my inbox to new messages. It was exciting!
Within the month, I exchanged a few notes with a fellow writer. On the day we met, I went to the movies by myself, buzzing with excitement during the film about the possibility of meeting a solid romantic prospect. When I walked outside, there was a tall, handsome man — Eugene. We strolled to a wine bar, and talked excitedly over Tempranillo. This began a six week adventure: picnics in Central Park, cocktails on the Upper West Side, and romantic evenings at his apartment in Washington Heights.
The problem was Eugene didn't want to be exclusive. So I broke up with him, and went on to meet many other interesting, creative men through the site. That is the beauty of online dating. Then there was John, a Colin Firth look-alike and instructor at Hunter College. We had great first, second and third dates. I traveled to Europe the week after we met, and then never saw him again: he was recently separated and "confused."
Despite not finding a relationship immediately, I maintained a positive attitude and concluded that there's no point in worrying about rejection. I was looking for a man who would be "the one." If someone wasn't interested, he obviously wasn't it.
Beginning my online dating journey after 40, I was also a busy professional and who didn't want to waste time. Some online daters prefer a slow progression: from messages on the site, to personal emails, to phone calls. But if I was really interested, I wanted to meet fairly quickly. After all, the question, "Do we have chemistry?" can only be answered in person.
After dating online for about two years, nothing serious had developed. I was still meeting fascinating people, and I never made dating the center of my life. I pursued hobbies, had dinner with friends, and spent time with my family. I knew that feeling desperate was as bad for my psyche as it was unattractive to potential mates.
Then, one day, I found a profile I liked. An intelligent man who wrote in a poetic and slightly offbeat way. He listened to the same indie music I did and described himself as a bon vivant. And he was a chef — the perfect complement to my hobby of wine collecting. During my time dating online, I had learned to cut to the chase. I sent him a message saying simply: "I'm sold."
Although he was geographically inconvenient — he lived three hours north in the Catskills — I knew all great romance requires some kind of flexibility. So on a sunny September day, I drove to meet him. A year later, he is moving to my house and we are starting a life together. Needless to say, we had a promising first date.
Online dating requires courage and persistence, and, in my experience, not letting dating become a sole focus. Romance seekers of any age can use online dating platforms to meet interesting people, have fun, and — if you're as lucky as I was — find a wonderful person to love.
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