It took me a good couple of years after my divorce to find the courage to enter the world of online dating. And, even when I summoned the courage, at first I only put up basic information and no photos. My photo? Really? Then people might recognize me! Who might I bump into in cyberspace? The divorced dads of kids my son played sports with? Men I see at the grocery store? My friends’ ex-husbands? Their current husbands? Dear God. So, I spent some time anonymously perusing online profiles to see if anyone looked familiar. By and large, no one did, so I took a deep breath and posted my photo.
Let the games begin.
Sometimes I really wish we lived in simpler times. It all seemed so uncomplicated and innocent back in Mayberry. A gentleman suitor would arrive at your door, bouquet in hand, escort you to the Bluebird Diner for a meal, and then deliver you safely back home saying goodnight with a tip of his hat. No fuss, no muss.
Flash forward to the present day and online dating where, apparently, it’s so competitive that many people feel the need to manufacture everything (read that as “lie”) about themselves; their age, their height, their finances, even their appearance. One gentleman I met suggested I view it as “marketing.” He believed you do whatever you have to do to put yourself ahead of the competition. It makes it hard to find the truth and harder to determine who might be a good match for you. Even more so for those of us who are middle-aged or older. Sure, that photo of you from 1992 is great but I want to know who you are now!
My favorites are the ones (men and women alike) who “adjust” their ages on the main page of their profiles. Then, once you click to read their full profile, they clarify, “I’m actually XX (fill in actual age here) but I didn’t want to get cut from your search.” A small part of me sees that as a somewhat clever tactic – a good PR move. But the rest of me thinks it reeks of desperation and insecurity. Not an alluring combo.
Their reasoning? They don’t want to be overlooked or eliminated from your search because of their age. Translation: they “look and feel younger” than their age and they don’t want you to miss out on them simply because your preference on age range stops at five or 10 years younger than they are. Men have told me that they have actually seen the same woman’s profile on more than one dating site, and on one site she’s listed as 42 and the other she’s 48. Really?? I’m sorry, but I think your pants are on fire.
Here’s my question: Why would you seek out a relationship with someone who doesn’t want you for who you are? Justify it all you like. But if you can’t even be honest about yourself, who do you expect to be honest with you? And now you also want to have to convince me to date you? My philosophy is (sarcasm alert), “Oh yes, please, let’s begin a relationship on a foundation of dishonesty and manipulation!” No thanks.
The funny part is how defensive the men have been when I’ve called them on the carpet for adjusting their ages. They insist it’s not a big deal and I’m making too much of it. I politely disagree. I look and feel younger than I am also. Most people are shocked when they learn my age. But I use my real age online. It never occurred to me to be anything other than truthful. Maybe I’m a fool. I guess I am looking for someone like myself; someone honest, and someone close to my own age who looks and feels younger. Not someone who is 15 years older than I am (and lies about it) but says he “feels” like he’s my age.
For me, it has to do with the commonality and being able to relate to my partner. If I was an infant when you were graduating high school there’s a bit of a generational gap there. And it works the other way, too. If I am old enough to have given birth to you then let me introduce you to my daughter instead.
Apparently, the age difference works for some couples. George Clooney just did it (and broke my heart in the process) and they seem as happy as clams. Good for them. For me though, it’s not my preference.
So, if I can’t be sure that the ages or other information in the online profiles are legit, then what’s a girl to do?
Still want to take the leap into the online dating pool? Here’s my advice:
1. Know what qualities you’re looking for in a partner.
Pay attention to what his likes and dislikes are in comparison to your own and don’t try to “force” a possible relationship if there are major differences.
2. Be a detective.
Look for clues. If you’re a dog person and his profile says, “If your pet sleeps in the bed with you, then there’s no room for me in your life,” (yes, I actually read that in a profile once) then move on to the next profile!
3. Really look at the photos.
I don’t mean the person in the photo. Look in the background. Yes, you heard me. Enlarge the photo if you can and look at what’s going on behind and around her. Are her countertops a mess or does she have out the ingredients for a nice meal? Is there a drink in her hand in every single photo? Was her vacation in Vegas or Vail? Think about your preferences and what her photos are unintentionally telling you.
4. Trust your gut.
Don’t let anyone else cause you to second guess yourself. Only you know what works for you. Listen to that little inner voice. If a red flag is flying, then throw in the towel!
- 10 Must Follow Rules for Successful Online Dating
- Online Dating for Women
- 41 Year Old Divorced Woman/Seeking Men 41-51/Within 100 Miles
- Online Dating for Men: Using online dating services to meet women