My last two stories have been about preparing to enter the online dating world (Tell the World Who You Are – In 3 Photos or Less and 140 Characters or Less?? The Joys of Online Dating) and I am proud to announce …. I DID IT.
I have much to share about this adventure. Thus, my story is longer than usual so do not read on your iPhone as your thumb will be broken when you are done. Wait until you are comfortable and have a cup of coffee or, more appropriately, a glass of wine in hand.
So, buckle up, Little Bobby, and here goes—comments about what I did—my mistakes—my good moments—and my first online date—from the first 7 days of online dating.
Comment One: Create Your Online Email Account and Protect Your Privacy
Before I signed up, I created a new-just-for-online-dating email account so my real account, which is already cluttered up with Amazon emails, does not get further cluttered up with messages and flirts. I changed the name listed in my computer settings so only my first name would be visible on the email address.
Send mail as: Janet<firstname.lastname@example.org>
I even tested this by sending an email to my work email. I thought I was soooo smart. It turns out I was not as smart as I thought because one week later, using my iPhone instead of my computer, I sent an email to a wonderful man after we had a date and he emailed me back immediately (as he knew my fear factor was high and I had not told him my last name) alerting me that he now knew my last name as it had appeared in the email and he told me I needed to look into this.
From: Janet Haldeman <email@example.com>
He also revealed his last name and his cell phone number as a way to counterbalance my error—turnabout is fair play. I did appreciate his honesty.
What I learned—you have to block/edit your name on EVERY device you use—your iPhone, iPad, computer—or else your full name could appear. Once you think you have done so, I strongly suggest you send test emails from every device to make certain you have done this correctly.
Comment Two: The Signing Up Process (with OurTime—for us older folks)
On the afternoon of March 10th, I sat in front of my computer with my cup of coffee in hand. In retrospect, I should have poured myself a scotch.
I dutifully answered the three questions I had prepared carefully for—In a Nutshell; The One I am Looking for; and I’d Just Like to Add—uploaded pictures; answered other questions that seemed meaningless as they had preset answers to choose from such as—Do You Like Cooking—with answers ranging from I’d rather starve to I love cooking; or questions about how punctual you are. I suppose if someone answered “always late” I might not want to date them.
At my age, life is short so waiting around could be an issue.
When done, I reviewed my profile page which looked like this—-
Any prospective matches can scroll down my page and read about me—including exciting personality traits such as my interest in cooking and being punctual. They can then send me an online message or send me a flirt which is a message that reads “BillieBob sent you a Flirt”. Nothing else…no words…. just he sent you a Flirt. And I, of course, when I see a man’s profile, can do the same thing.
Really? I am almost 68 years old…. A certain place would have to freeze over before I would send a Flirt to a man. Just saying…………
Comment Three – Creating the Most Important Technology Tool
My friends will roll their eyes when they read this but the most important tool you need is an Excel spreadsheet because after a while all the meaningless messages and flirts will make your eyes glaze over and their handles (aka online screen names) start sounding alike. You do not want to click on someone a second time by mistake.
And why is that???
Because every time you click on their profile, they get a message saying you viewed their profile. And then they get excited and send you another message saying “hi….I see you saw my profile again and would you like to chat” and you are thinking ….aughghghgh….that was the guy that looked like an axe-murderer and I forgot he sent me a flirt yesterday and today he sent me a message and I should have never clicked on him………..
So, create a tracking spreadsheet and sort alphabetically. Trust me…..this is very important.
Comment Four – Criteria and Mastering the Use of the Delete Key
You have to determine some basic criteria. I realize some will say I am being too harsh but after my experience over 7 consecutive days, I stand by these criteria—if your “match” falls into any of these categories, then I would suggest you delete them.
Category One: They do not post a picture. A BIG Automatic Delete. I do not even open the message.
Category Two: They have a screen name that implies they think the 70s are calling. I have seen (no lie) screen names such as Hot100coolfun; HopingForFun63; MissingYou57; etc. Can we say DELETE?
Category Three: All they can manage to do is click Flirt. I will confess I started out deleting them without reading the profile but one of my girlfriends said men are clueless so I tried for a while reading the profiles of those that sent flirts, but their profiles were always pitiful so I am now back to deleting without reading them. (Another similar option is for them to click the Thumbs Up button on one of your photos and you get a message saying they Like your photo but nothing else.)
Category Four: All they can manage to do is click Message and then choose one of the template messages such as “Like Your Picture” or “Want to Chat”. I will confess another friend said I should have some mercy and realize some of these men have been trying for ages to get a date and they are probably worn out from typing. So, I do at least read their profile but my usual response is to think “God Bless Him” and press the Delete Key.
Category Five: They are from out of state. You would be amazed at how many messages I have gotten from men who live in other states. Are there no women left to date in Arizona or New Jersey? Seriously, after the first week, 56% of the messages/flirts I received were from men who lived out of state. What were they thinking?
Category Six: For pets, they list Cats…not Dogs. To all my woman friends who have cats, I love your kitty pictures and your cute cat stories…and I think cats are appropriate in your home (even though I am suspicious they are really instruments of the devil.) But a man that has cats? DELETE.
Comment Five – Cold Calling – Match Making – Views – and Rejection
There are two ways to find a man that might be a match. The first way is to do a search based on criteria… I call it “cold calling”.
My example below shows the criteria I selected: a man age 65 to 72 who lives near me; has photos; height 5’10 to 6’6; is divorced or widower; Caucasian; non-smoker; and for religion—Christian—and then I click Search.
Various men profiles appear and if you see one of interest, you click on it. If you like what you see, then you click Message to send him a message. I have never sent a cold call message.
The second way is what I call “match-making” – to respond to a match sent to you via OurTime. Every morning OurTime sends you 11 names of men they think are matches. I have no idea as to why they think these men are a match other than they seem to be in my general geographic area and have teeth.
You read the profile and if you are not interested, you click the No button and the next lucky candidate appears. I will say that sometimes I am not sure so once again my trusty spreadsheet comes in handy as I note their information in a separate tab. If I change my mind later, I could find them using the Search Box and then email them saying there were match in the past.
Or, if you are interested, you click the Yes button and a message box appears in which you can enter a message. I have sent 9 messages (something I am still a bit stunned that I did) and I always begin by saying they were a match suggested to me by OurTime; I compliment them on something I read in their profile; I tell a little about me; I end by saying feel free to check out my profile and wish them well in their search.
And how has that worked out for me? This is where you better have your ego intact. There is a Views window where you can see who has viewed your profile. Of the 9 messages I sent, 2 of them looked at my profile and 1 of them contacted me.
Other “you-need-to-have-your-ego-intact” moments occur when you realize an attractive looking man has viewed your profile but never reached out to you. You have to fight the “what is wrong with me” voices that start whispering in your head because if you let them whisper, they will scream at you later—especially at 3 AM when you cannot sleep.
Comment Six – HE SAID YES
The first week I received 5 Messages where the man said Yes to OurTime’s suggestion that I was a match for him. Our Time sends this cutesy email to me:
Oh…..Be still my heart.
Of the 5 “HE SAID YES” to me matches, there was one I debated about (the others were a quick NO). He had a really nice profile but he lived further away. I finally sent him a nice “no-thank you” message. I did not respond to the other four and frankly, my conscience has bothered me about that so going forward I will message back a polite No….. as I guess Jesus would frown on my abandoning the Golden Rule—even for online dating.
Comment Six – Cold Calling Messages that Led to………..
The first week I received 2 cold-calling messages that were different—I have no idea how they found my profile—I assume via a search. These were different from the countless flirts and “Want to Chat?” canned messages as they took the time to make original comments.
The first man had a wonderful profile but he had been divorced for 30 years and did not have children. I was concerned he would not be able to relate to my grandchildren. We exchanged some pleasant messages but I decided against him. (The final tipping point…he had CATS. Enough said.)
The second man messaged me and actually wrote words that formed sentences. He did not use the template script. He was polite. I viewed his profile where I discovered even more words and complete sentences and a sense of humor.
But I did have one concern. Of his 12 pictures, 8 had motorcycles in them. I messaged him back thanking him for reaching out to me and complimenting him on his profile but I mentioned I was concerned about the importance of motorcycle activities in his life as I had an aversion to them.
Let’s just get that right out there, front and center……. OK?
He quickly informed me he did not have any tattoos, body piercings, and he also owns and drives a car frequently. More messages back and forth and we discovered he lives about 20 minutes from me. And then, OurTime suggested him as one of my daily matches and I said yes and he got the SHE SAID YES message….which led to the suggestion we meet a local Tex-Mex restaurant.
So, 4 days after I signed up for on-line dating, I had my first online date. I will confess that I would find myself suddenly bursting out loud with laughter at the absurdity of this. Me—of all people—ME—a woman who is cautious and conservative—was going on an online date with a man who has an interesting on-line handle; rides motorcycles; thinks mimosas are girlie drinks and…… had made me laugh with his online messages.
Comment Seven – The First Online Date
First off, I will make this very clear—so my family and friends do not panic—when I agreed to the date, I did not tell him my last name; give him my cell phone number; or tell him my address. I have seen enough horror movies or have read the bizarre headlines on CNN to know better. I also gave my wingman… my sister-in-law, Debbie….. all the details I could about my date and told her I would text her when I was safely back inside my home.
Was I nervous? I will have to confess…..I really wasn’t. I think the honesty I sensed in his messages and seeing pictures helped to steady my nerves.
Well…..I know you are wondering… Janet….HOW DID THE DATE GO?
Let’s just say….. we met at 6 PM and we left at 10 PM when they were mopping the floor around us and it seemed like we were there 15 minutes. And yes, there is another date scheduled for later this week.
Comment Eight – So What Does All This Mean
For me, the hardest part of dating at age almost 68 is….. dealing with the lack of an “End Game”.
50 years ago, when I was dating (and yes, just typing that number makes me cringe), I had an End Game. I wanted to find a man I would love and would want to share the rest of my life with and have a family with.
It is different now…. I no longer know the end game. The “rest of my life” is not 50 or 60 years ahead but a much smaller number. I have created my family – my son and now his family.
Most of the men online list being interested in: Marriage, Serious Relationship, Travel Partner. I do not know if I could ever get married again and being a travel partner with someone new is intimidating. What happens if I get to Egypt with him and discover that his breathing out loud annoys me. It would be a long trip with no easy way home.
Yet, I realize this…. I can continue to live a quiet safe life and not risk upsetting the emotional applecart of my heart or I can be willing to take some risks and face rejection and disappointments….. which will surely happen. Am I willing to deal with broken dreams and hurts again?
As I viewed profiles last week and sent messages and dressed for my first on-line date, I came face to face with this….. if I have learned anything after the last ten years of my life…. after a divorce and a broken engagement..…it is that one can choose to pick up shattered pieces and dreams and build a new life filled with joy, adventure, and love.
It is a choice. It is always a choice.
I know this much… I took a risk involving an evening of conversation (and cheese dip, fajitas, and a margarita) ….. and I will be forever grateful that my first online date was with a man who seemed kind and thoughtful; who was interesting; and who made me laugh.
For now, that is enough.
And on a closing note (I know you are thinking Whew—finally) – to my Cobb County co-worker, BR, who called my bluff last month about online dating—and to my son, Chris, who, when I started waffling about signing up for online dating, looked me straight in the eyes and said in a steady voice, “Sign Up”—I would like to simply say to each of you……