The world has changed massively over the age of the internet. Online dating is now no longer the last resort but the path of choice for many single moms who want to get back out into the adult world and meet someone new. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a new life partner or simply want to make new friends and have a little fun: the idea of online dating is likely to crop up at some point.
Why is online dating popular with single moms?
Single moms turn to online dating sites because they simply don’t have the same opportunities to get out and about and meet people as they used to. If you’re a single mom your life revolves round your kids and their needs, and your work. You don’t get much time to yourself, and even when you do, you’re usually too tired to do anything other than slump on the couch and watch TV or read a book.
It’s also likely that you simply don’t come into contact with many single men. Your old friends, from your ‘couple days’ are all married. In fact, many single moms find that their old married friends invite them along to social events less and less…it’s a sad fact of life. So getting out to places where the singles crowd hang out is tough. Online dating sites offer a solution to all this. It makes good sense, but there are certain precautions you should take if you are going to give online dating a go.
Tips for successful and safe online dating
- Choose your site carefully. Do some research, talk to friends who have done it all before. If you’re not sure, choose a site that is well known like Match.com (UK: http://uk.match.com/ US: http://us.match.com/ ) or E Harmony (UK: http://www.eharmony.co.uk/ or US: .http://www.eharmony.com/ . These sites have reputations to keep up and are likely to perform well and offer good safety regulation. If a site is heavily advertised on TV and in the newpapers chances are it is a successful site with the experience to help you get the most from it. There are all kinds of sites out there too, some quite specialised. So, if your religion is important to you, a religious site might be a good idea. Or, there are sites catering for specific nationalities, age groups, business people and many more variations on the theme!
- Free site or pay site? You also need to consider whether or not you are prepared to pay to join an online dating site. There are lots of free sites, and some of them are very good. Others are a magnet for perverts and liars. In general, if you are serious about using a dating site rather than just having a look to see what happens, chances are you’ll get better performance from a paying site. However, if you want to try out the whole online dating thing before you sign up to a paying site, some good free sites include http://www.okcupid.com/ and Plenty of Fish http://www.pof.com .
- Once you’ve chosen your site and you’re ready to begin, take time to find and upload a good photo of yourself. In fact, find two or three. Everyone wants to upload a photo that shows them looking their best, but temper this very human desire with honesty. It’s no good posting a photo that makes you look like a twenty year old goddess if you’re actually a 35 year old slightly plump Mom! So pick a reasonably recent image that actually looks like you. Test it on a friend…if they don’t recognize you maybe you need to find another photo! It’s all very well and flattering to feel that you’ve attracted lots of interest on the site, but equally devastating to see disappointment when you meet in person. Don’t set yourself up for it.
- Keep a few photos ready . This might sound odd, if the site has only requested you to upload one, but once you have started a dialogue with someone you like the look of, it’s a good idea to send him a few more photos and ask him to do the same. This helps you to be sure that he has posted a real image of himself and not ‘borrowed’ one from elsewhere on the net!
- Honesty is the best policy. Just as your photo needs to show you in your best light but still be inherently honest, so does your profile. Tell the truth about yourself. Don’t make claims to qualities you really don’t possess, but equally, don’t be too self effacing either. If you’re not sure what to say, ask your friends to say how they would describe you.
- Keep things in perspective. Yes, if this is your first foray into dating as a single mom, it’s natural to find it all very exciting. But try not to let it become an obsession, spending all your free time online looking for possible matches. Treat it as an enjoyable part of your life, but only as part of your life, not something you have to do every free minute you get. It’s best to do this away from your kids too, unless they are older and you’ve already discussed it with them and know that they are happy about it. If you do meet someone who becomes a real part of your life, there’s plenty of time to inlvolve the kids later.
- Get used to online dating etiquette. It is normal to meet a few people rather than to concentrate on just one until you are sure a relationship is beginning to develop. You are only meeting them as friends initially! Understand that they will almost certainly be doing the same, and be honest about it.
- Don’t reveal too much about your life in early messages or emails. This is partly because too much information at this stage can be off putting for the recipient, and partly because you need to hold back something to talk about on a date!
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry to meet. Chatting in messages and then on the phone for a week or two is a safe way of getting to know a little about the other person before you arrange to meet up. You can, without getting on your soapbox, gently sound them out on issues that matter to you at this stage too…like your children, if you have them!
- Be aware that people can and do lie on online dating sites. Yes, there are a lot of honest people just like you who genuinely hope to find a partner, romance or friends through these sites, but there are others who post false and misleading information. They may claim to be single but be married, make false claims about their job or age and post false or outdated photos. Check what precautions the site itself takes to verify members’ identities, and follow their advice yourself.
- Take care to be safe. The first time you arrange to meet someone you’ve found on a dating site, make sure you follow the site’s advice on keeping safe. Any reputable site will tell you to be sure to tell a good friend where you are going and when you’ll be back. Have their number on speed dial on your cell phone too, so if at any point you feel unsafe you can call your friend. Some single moms dating a new man ask a friend to call them part way through the date so they can make an excuse to leave if they feel at all uncomfortable.
- Make the first date a daytime date. Meeting a new man in the daytime is safer than meeting after dark. Arrange to go for lunch in a place you know well, and somewhere that you can easily get back home from if it all goes wrong.
- Don’t drink much on first dates. Alcohol inhibits your ability to make rational decisions and loosens your tongue.
- When making contact with the people you meet online, use the messaging services provided by the site rather than your own email or telephone. When you feel ready to progress the contact, address for a good while and use your cell phone rather than a land line number.
- It’s a good idea to speak on the phone before you meet, rather than just exchanging messages. A person’s voice can tell you a lot about them, and it is a logical next step from messaging.
- Be careful with flirtatiousness online. Of course, it’s a dating site so flirting is the name of the game, to an extent. But, if you are intending to develop the friendship in the real (as opposed to virtual) world, it’s probably best not to indulge in too much flirting (or especially cyber sex) before meeting up. For one, it’s not safe to suggest scenarios you may not wish to go through with. For another, what happens to all this flirting if you are not attracted to the physical reality of the person when you finally meet? So, keep flirting light. It’s easier to go forwards than back!
Online dating is the future of dating for many single moms in this modern world. It can be great if you play it safe and keep a level head. Don’t expect miracles overnight, stay positive and just enjoy it for what you get out of it. It might be a lasting love and marriage, or it might just be new friendships or occasional meetings with interesting people. Take it slowly, don’t let it take over your life and follow the rules. Have fun!