Tag Archives: online dating

come out

Odious Online Dating: Learn to Love it!

The conversation

She plopped down on the couch: “I don’t think I can do this. Dating sucks.”  She spent the first five minute of our session lambasting Ok Cupid and men in general: “Are they all so terrible?!”  They are not so terrible; they are probably just like you.  When we step into the online arena, we are a mix of excited, depressed and terrified.  We are bummed that online dating seems the only way to meet people but we have all heard of some fun couple that met online successfully.  Usually the first perusal through profiles is a little jarring.  We live in Maine where there are only so many people and many of the men have ridiculous pics including their half-naked sad selfies in a mirror.  I assume there is an analogous female pic: maybe it includes cats.  But when we take a closer look (with an open mind), we realize (a) we are all just looking to connect with others and (b) there are plenty of good people in the mix.

The research

The Pew Research Center has been tracking opinions on online dating since 2005.  Overtime, more people think dating is a good way to meet others and that online dating can even help you find a better match.  And fewer people think online dating reflects desperation.  An important question Pew asked was whether online dating keeps people from settling down: a third of people think it does.  I have seen this in my practice: the candy shop problem.  Once people know there is a candy shop full of potential pals, it is tough to settle on the one you are with.  Relationships take dedication and energy – some people find it easier to keep going back and picking out a different type of candy. However, I find that people, both men and women, eventually tire of the dating madness and just want a more committed relationship.

pew research

Here are my suggestions for managing your online dating experience:

Set the pace

You get to decide how deep you want to jump in.  Do you want one or multiple dates per week?  Do you want to try one or many people at a time? (Be aware that most people are dating multiple people.)  I find many people, especially women, get overwhelmed by the dozens of emails coming at them (many with just the titillating message: “Hi”).  The recipient oftentimes feels burdened by having to respond to each email to be polite or can’t handle the inbox barrage and ignores them all (most people do the latter).  My advice:

  1. Come up with a standard message to send to people you are not interested in such as “Thank you for writing.  I don’t think we match.  Good luck on your search.”  I found that men were so happy to have someone respond to them that they graciously thanked me for my brief retort.
  2. Come up with a strategy for reaching out to the people you would like to date.  Email three people a week to see what response you get.  Try pithy messages that reflect your interest:  “I enjoyed reading about who you are.  Tell me more about where you like to travel (or ‘what you like to read’ or ‘your favorite place in Maine’). Or, if you want to get down to business (which I recommend): “I loved reading about who you are.  I would enjoy hearing more over coffee.”
  3. When you finally meet, keep it brief.  I recommend the 20 minute coffee/tea date with a planned “get the hell out of dodge” excuse ready.  You could be meeting a friend or taking your kid to the doctor’s or if things are go well, you could stay right where you are.
  4. Caution:  I don’t recommend emailing back and forth more than 4-5 times.  Many novice users of internet dating fall into the trap of emailing non-stop until they feel like they have found their best friend only to discover that they are repelled the instant she walks in the coffee shop door.

Set realistic expectations

Expect to be rejected.  That is just the reality of online dating.  We get to be picky in the online arena.  Just as a woman is not attracted to every single man, men are not attracted to every single women.  He/she may not want someone with kids or someone tall or someone who lives in Scarborough.  You never know.  People are not great at direct communication online.  Think about it: For every person you ignore, there is someone who will ignore you.

My advice: Allow the “NOs” to roll off of you.  Practice not taking it personally.  Know why you are doing online dating and that it generally takes TEN dates to find one you want to continue with (See my 10 to 1 rule here).

Caution: The anonymity of the internet encourages trolls in all arenas including online dating.  Scams are real.  The most recent one I heard about was a man who emailed and called two women (both happened to be widows) and treated them like princesses until a surprise trip came up where the man happened to need an influx of cash to “save him”.  In an article by Reviews.com, they found harassment happened to 12% of Match.com users, 17% of Plenty of Fish users, 20% of eHarmony users and a whopping 47% of OkCupid users.  So the female client who came to my office had reason to complain!

See the humor… and humanity in it all.

Find reasons to laugh amidst the travails of online dating.  The ten year old photos, the ridiculous emails, the awkward silences… it is all great fodder for your friends.  Learning how not to take the rejections to heart will help.  Generally, we are all looking for something similar: we are lonely and want to be fulfilled through a relationship. However, too few of us have perfect relationship skills so we tend to stumble and fall before we stand.  Give yourself a break and extend it to the person sitting across the table from you as well.

Do you want more?

For a well-researched article on the best online sites by Reviews.com, go here.

For an article on online dating when you are 50+, go here

For a glance at advice from men and women on the composition of your profile, go here

 

Erin Oldham, Ph.D. is a researcher and relationship & divorce coach. Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships. She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world. Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child well-being and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years. She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective. She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Email her here.

thats what she said

That’s What She Said… About Online Dating

In the fall, I held a workshop at Local Flames on online dating.  It drew about 20 people, men and women, who wanted to know more about how it all works. Here is some insight from the crowd that may help you as you journey online.

1. How long do you wait to email back?

“I write back whenever it feels right”.  The crowd felt it was fine to email back within the hour or whenever you have time.  Only one person waited a day or two to respond.

My advice: Email back when you have a break in your day and time to really think about what you are writing.  It is really easy to get a bit ‘addicted’ to the sight of a new email arriving in your inbox.  Your best emails will come out when you are relaxed and present.

2. What are the rules of the game?

“Don’t be too eager or aloof.  Don’t go “all in” too quick.  Take it slow.”

“Be respectful”

“Don’t exchange numbers.  Meet in a public place.  Give a friend the details of your date.”

“Be positive, truthful, and careful”

My advice: Keep it simple.  Use online dating as a tool to meet people.  So in that vein, there is little reason to engage in long overly intimate emails.  Within the first couple of emails, or even in the first one, arrange to meet in person.

4. For the Men… What catches your attention?

“The photos pulls me in… The smile does it!  Passion makes me stay”

“A good smile, common interests”

“Good pictures – not flowers and dogs and sunsets”

My advice: Get a good picture of yourself that shows you face and smile.  Ask an honest friend if it is a good likeness of you.  Even though none of the men were overly focused on the profile, I would suggest a medium length profile (3 paragraphs) focusing on things you love to do and what you are looking for in a partner.  This gives the guy something to ask you about and hopefully will dissuade inappropriate men from contacting you (although probably not).

5. For the Women… What catches your attention?

“Humor in the profile and a nice smile in pictures.”

“Nice up-to-date photo.  I like when it looks like effort was put into the profile.  Funny is good.”

“Photo and a well-written profile”

“More than 2 good photos.  Smiles with teeth.  No spelling mistakes”

“Good writing. Articulate. Some self-expression”

My advice: Include a good photo but also pay attention to what you write.  Women will be reading your profile closely.  They want to see ‘you’ in there and don’t want to see spelling mistakes.  Write at least two paragraphs talking about what is important to you in life.

6. What do you leave out or “lie” about in your profile?

“I leave out Past relationship stuff”

“If anything, I’m too honest”

“Situation with my daughter”

“I don’t lie”

“Nothing; it will burn you in the long run”

“I have used overly flattering photos to hide my weight”

7. What have you been lied to about?

“Old pictures; height”

“Level of activity; 10 year old picture”

“Body type; smoking”

“The way they look; their living situation; drug use; financial situation”

“Age; smoking; job status; intent; divorced”

 

What can make online dating fun and successful?

1. Use the settings.  Check out the settings on the online sites.  On some sites, you can feature your profile which may get you more attention (the “top spot”).  On other sites, you can pay to look at other people’s profiles without them knowing.  This may come in handy if you don’t want certain people to know you are perusing their information.

2. Don’t take it personally or too seriously.  View online dating sites as a tool to meet people.  Understand that everyone is looking and trying to find someone.  Also understand that we all have different tastes.  You may find someone attractive who doesn’t not find you attractive (things have not changed much since middle school).  Try approaching different people.  If you see it just as a way to meet interesting people, and not necessarily the love of your life, it becomes much more fun.  People recoil from desperation or neediness.

3. Be active. Online dating can work best when you take an active approach.   Approach a variety of men/women.  Invite people to have a quick 20 minute tea or coffee pre-date just to see if either of you wants to go on a date.

4. Be compassionate.  Have some set lines to communicate with those online.

Have some polite responses ready…  

“Thank you so much for contacting me.  I don’t think our interests line up so I am going to say no at this time.  Good luck in your search.’

“Thank you so much for the date.  I don’t see us as a match but good luck in your search.”

“It has been great getting to know you over the last three dates.  I don’t see things coming together for us but I wish you well on your search.”

5. Own it/be yourself.  It is tempting to write a profile to try and please the reader.  However, if your intention is a healthy long term relationship, it is best to stick with a more honest approach.  Presenting a couple paragraphs about your interests with a good photo is the key.

And…some other mantras from the group…

Be positive   …   Be patient   …   Meet early   …   Use it as a tool   …   Be forgiving   …   Be compassionate   …   Use it as a way to increase your self awareness   …   Keep an open mind   …   Think outside the box   …   Meet for common interests   …   Be open   …   Just meet   …   See it as a community   …   See it as a practice   …   Get a friend to do it with you.

Offline! At the end of the session, a number of people were even more convinced they didn’t want to go online.  Here are some ways to meet people offline. There are two good ways to meet people in real time, in-person.

  1. Meet Up Groups

A Touch of Grey Meet-Up: http://www.meetup.com/A-ray-a-group-for-babyboomers/  For people born between 1946 and 1964.

Why Am I Single Meet-Up: http://www.meetup.com/Why-Am-I-Single-Portland/  For 30-50’s.

Find True Love Meet-Up: http://www.meetup.com/Find-True-Love-Meetup/ “For all people desiring to be in a loving relationship. Singles and Couples welcomed.”

  1. Singles Groups

Single Hearts in Maine. Single adults ages 45 – 70 in Midcoast Maine looking to spend time with others.  https://www.facebook.com/singleheartsinmaine?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

My Single Friends.  A group for 45 – 65 in Portland.  Email mysinglefriends15@gmail.com for details.

 

Good luck on your search.  Contact me if you have additional questions at erin@localflamesmaine.com.  See other blogs on online dating here.

http://blog.localflamesmaine.com/dating-as-adults/dating-world-later-6-important-questions-online/

http://blog.localflamesmaine.com/dating-as-adults/time-get-online-dating/

 

Authored by Erin Oldham, Ph.D.

Erin is a researcher, relationship & divorce coach, and mediator.  Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships.  She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world.  Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child wellbeing and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years.  She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective.  She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Contact her now at erin@localflamesmaine.com or 207-200-3970.  More information here.  localflamesmaine.com

time to go online

It’s Time to Get Online

Yes, we all wish there was a better way but this is what we’ve got.  The ideal of meeting someone in a picturesque in-person way is simply against the odds in Maine, in part due to our lack of populace and in bigger part due to our tendency to look away from people as they walk towards us.  At this point, online dating is a relatively refined sport. Basically everyone ends up online at some point and usually at multiple points.  I was featured on the ‘necessary evil’ websites after each of my divorces and then again after a number of the break-ups from my post-divorce ramblings.  Hell, my ex was on there about 15 minutes after I asked for a divorce.  Take away #1: Online dating is super convenient!    Here are some facts and three simple tips that make it a more palatable experience.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

There are four major online dating sites in play.  I have chronicled the cost, number of unique visitors per month (across the country!) and the split of female to men on the sites.  Visit this site for more info: http://dating-websites.findthedata.com/

Match.com       $19.99/mo      4.29 mil unique visitors/mo                51% female/49% male

Plenty of Fish $12.75/mo      2.54 mil unique visitors/mo                45% female/55% male

Zoosk                 $12.49/mo      1.82 mil unique visitors/mo               66% female/34% male

OkCupid            $9.95/mo         2.88 mil unique visitors/mo                44% female/56% male

Where are the men?

Clients ask me whether I think there are intelligent, attractive men out there for them.  (My men clients are more assured of the availability of women.)  I believe there are, however, I also caution that we do happen to live in Maine where there are simply fewer people.  It will surely take patience and time to find a good man or woman.  It took me 8 years and one delusional rebound marriage.

Looking on Match.com this morning, this is who I found.  Now, I searched without logging on and had to catch the numbers before a pop-up popped-up trying to get me to sign up, so correct these numbers if I mis-read them.

Within 20 miles of 04101, there were the following number of men and women (who had photos):

Age 35 to 45                  287 men           235 women

Age 45 to 55                  215 men           215 women

Age 55 to 65                  127 men           156 women

Age 65 to 75                  46 men              47 women

Some Tantalizing Tips

It takes 10 to get 1.  If you are willing to accept most anyone, you can find a date tonight, easy.  If you are looking for substance, it is a numbers game.  You have to be willing to meet a good number of people to find someone you want to see a second or third time around.  Perhaps if you go in with realistic expectations, you will end up pleasantly surprised rather than frustrated.

Put your best foot forward.  Your picture is where it’s at.  For better or worse, we are all visual creatures.  We are all picky (it’s not just you!).   Your picture is the most important part of your profile.  Make it one with a good look at your smiling face (emphasis on the smile!).  Men told us they don’t need to see pictures of animals or sunsets; they just want to see you.  If you aren’t getting much response to one photo, try another one and see how that works.

Manage your experience.  Online dating can be hurtful if you don’t realize how it all works.  More people will ignore you than pay you the favor of a reply.  People will cancel your date an hour before you step into the restaurant because their date last night went well.  Most people are dating multiple people at the same time until they narrow in on one. This is not a place to build your self-esteem.  It is more of a place to steel yourself, get ready and dive in.  Treat people how you want to be treated (men were so thankful when I emailed them to say ‘no, thank you’) but don’t be surprised with the rude online culture.

Good luck on your search.  Contact me with additional questions on online dating at erin@localflamesmaine.com.

 

See other blogs on online dating here.

http://blog.localflamesmaine.com/dating-as-adults/dating-world-later-6-important-questions-online/

http://blog.localflamesmaine.com/dating-as-adults/she-said-online-dating/

 

Authored by Erin Oldham, Ph.D.

Erin is a researcher, relationship & divorce coach, and mediator.  Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships.  She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world.  Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child wellbeing and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years.  She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective.  She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Contact her now at erin@localflamesmaine.com or 207-200-3970.  More information here.  localflamesmaine.com

grower

Is he a Grower or a Shower? A case for slow dating

There are the guys who excel at first impressions and dates, and then there are the guys that may not shine at first glance, but who grow on you over time. These are the guys who slowly wow you with their opinions, tastes, and knowledge revealed with each passing encounter. The first group of men are the showers; the second group of men are the growers. Wait, what did you think I meant by growers and showers?

When we were in college we could encounter these types in equal measure as we strolled through night-long parties. You could choose the dance floor with the showers or saddle up to the guy on the couch for an awesomely awkward conversation about life. The showers kept you dancing all night long with their self-assuredness while the growers were the guys you confided in and gradually developed an attraction for as they revealed their depth.

In the online world, the growers fall behind. One date is all you get in a world where we administer judgment before someone even opens his mouth to say hello. You have a max of 1 hour and 15 minutes to impress her or you will be thrown to the curb for the next most qualified guy.  My experience with this was an encounter about 8 years ago with a lovely, quiet man that didn’t lead to a second date. I now know this gentleman as a friend, having spent many hours discussing, conversing and pondering the world. He is the real deal. I see many pass him up, not realizing what they are missing. How could they? There are too many people to choose from online and people rarely want to settle into actually getting to know someone the way we used to. It is wham, bam, his nose isn’t perfect and I don’t like his shoes, no thank you ma’am.

What to do?

1. Give love a chance

Slow it down, man. Love takes time to develop. The idea that in the first two seconds you know he is the one is short-sighted. This might be true if we were walking around truly open to all experiences with no pre-conceived notions borne of past relationships. However, because we are so influenced by our pasts as we search for our future, it is wise to give more than two seconds consideration.

2. Listen a little

When you stop talking, you can start taking in what she is saying. This allows you to notice her laugh, her level of vocabulary, and her views of the world. In listening, you learn.

3. Give a second date

Some people definitely rub you the wrong way, and they can be pushed to the wayside. However, if you are intrigued but unsure, give them a second chance. Growers warm up over time. You won’t get to see his true stuff until after 4 or 5 interactions.

4. Interact briefly

A strategy to get to really know someone is to date small. Break up that 4 hour, 3 martini date into 4 small dates instead. Take a walk, search BullMoose for cds, drink tea, and visit a wine tasting at MJ’s. These smaller, less intense interactions will allow you to ease into the knowing of her.

5. Try some offline options. Growers, introverts, and the more introspective are often easier to meet in small group settings. Try these offline options:

     Meetup.com (pick a topic, any topic). Get into writing or bird watching or skeet shooting. Try “Am I still single”, a group for single Mainers who want to meet people offline.

     Wine wise, a group that provides wine tours in and around Portland.

     Running or biking groups (check out meetup.com or bike shops to find them)

     Take Action Portland (TAP) is a volunteer-run organization that coordinates monthly commitment-free community action projects and is a fantastic way to meet people.

6. Pay attention to people in your real world. The ultimate offline experience is right around the corner, at Coffee by Design, Rising Tide Brewery, or the produce section of Trader Joes, for example.  Connect with the person standing next to you in line through a smile or a hello. Take a chance; make a connection. You never know what will happen.

Note: I addressed this article mainly to women because, in my experience, men are a bit better at this. In my dating phase, almost every single man I went on a date with was up for the second date. It was my choice to turn them on or turn them down.

Authored by Erin Oldham, Ph.D.

Erin is a researcher, relationship & divorce coach, and mediator.  Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships.  She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world.  Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child wellbeing and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years.  She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective.  She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Contact her now at erin@localflamesmaine.com or 207-200-3970.  More information here.  localflamesmaine.com

gentleman

Dating a World Later: The 6 most important questions to ask when jumping online.

It’s been 25 years since you dated. The last “date” you remember was in high school or college. Maybe you were a child of the 50s or 60s when dating was less “dating” and more dancing, smoking, and listening to Pink Floyd or the Grateful Dead. Or perhaps you were a child of the 70s when you weren’t quite as free but still retained some sweetness in double dates and seeing movies for the 10th time. Wherever you were, we now find ourselves in a rule-less world of online dating where clearly a lot has changed.  A mid-50s female relationship-coaching client asked me, “What do I need to know about online dating?” The advice I gave in response may prove helpful to you.

1. Men and women may be online for different reasons

There are lots of reasons to be online dating: to meet new people, to develop long-term relationships, or to have lots of sex.  Online dating provides some anonymity and allows people to market themselves in a particular way. It also allows one to hone in on what they want (activesingles.com; greensingles.com).  Be clear about why you are online.

Ask these 2 questions before you get in too far:

- Why did you decide to date online?

- What are you looking for from people you meet online?

2. You need to know the difference between dating and a relationship

The implication of “dating” is that you are trying things out and potentially dating multiple people. A relationship implies that only two people are involved and there is a presumption that there may be a future together. As a rule, men date and women relate.

Ask these questions once you have passed date #3.

- Are you more into dating or relationships?

- How many people do you like to date at once?

3. Sex is forefront in the mind of everyone (yes, everyone)

Most people coming out of divorce have had unsatisfying sex lives for quite some time and are looking to rectify the situation. The pleasure and risks of sex are much different today. The openness is fun; the STDs are not. Don’t be afraid to wait, always use a condom, get tested and ask questions.

Ask these questions cautiously and clearly.

- What are your thoughts on having sex with more than one person at a time?

- Is there anything I need to know about your sexual health before we have sex? (Basically, do you have any STDs I should be aware of?)  Have you been tested recently?

You need to know what you want. People may ask you the same questions. Be prepared.

Start by asking yourself all the questions above.  And, come to the workshop on online dating on May 20th at 7pm at Local Flames.  Register by clicking here.

 

Authored by Erin Oldham, Ph.D.

Erin is a researcher, relationship & divorce coach, and mediator.  Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships.  She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world.  Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child wellbeing and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years.  She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective.  She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Contact her now at erin@localflamesmaine.com or 207-200-3970.  More information here.  localflamesmaine.com

Screenshot 2014-04-16 15.58.53

I don’t translate well on the page

I don’t translate well. On the page.

My warmth and spark do not transmit.  But meet me in person and I shine.  This I know and this I found disheartening when trying to share my heart online.  I didn’t garner much attention.  I didn’t get much response. And my response was not to craft myself or hack the program.  My response was to crave.  Connection and intimacy and real vulnerability.  So I would go back and forth between “trying again” and stealing my awesomeness to myself.  Maintaining your inner balance while online is challenging.  Thoughts of “I’m great” veer towards “Am I great?”  So in my wish to be seen and heard, there was a frustrating lack of options when people are judging the quality of my photo, not the depth of my soul.

We all wish to be seen and heard and known.  Traipsing through yet another historical house on my parent’s version of a fun across the country vacation, I spied the marking on the wall, “T+N”, “Martha was here 1984”.  So my legacy of that trip was marking each landmark with “Erin + Mike”, feeling a bit of guilt while running my fingernails through the aged wood, again and again.  Those marks left an impression in me, a deep knowledge of the need of people to be seen and known, to feel like we matter in this world and will be remembered.  So feeling invisible online can easily add a layer of despair to our cloak.

Hence my belief that an in-person connection is everything.  That feeling of someone listening to you while your hands enter and slice the air in emphatic expression is the shit.  That feeling of their empathy and understanding of your situation, your moment, your presence in history.  And occasionally it is not this way, when someone’s head turns, their ears close, their eyes wander.  That feeling of the shift away, is discomforting.  And hard to know what to make of it.  But staying in my body and my experience stills and allows me to quiet without judgment, of them or of me.  I wonder, still, whether what I have to say is worth the air and I cautiously and optimistically decide “Yes, just not for them.”

Some are not for me and I am not for some.  That is a hard truth to discover and rediscover.  Someone online who seems so “perfect”, whose words resonate and ring.  But those are only words on the page, words designed to portray and create perception.  An aspect or rotation of the truth, but certainly not the full picture.  Our full picture extends so far and so wide, it cannot be seen on the page or in a single conversation.  We need to be seen and heard over time, repeatedly.   And especially by those that we hold dear.