I’m not going to lie to you. Getting back into the dating scene is not a walk in the park. It can be fantastically fun, interesting, rewarding, and exciting, but it can also be discouraging, time-consuming, frustrating, emotionally challenging, and, every now and then, a little ridiculous. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
When it comes to plunging back into the pool, most people start with online dating. Is that your only option? Nope, but it would be a mistake not to do it. There are so many people out there who are single and searching, just like you. The internet is a wonderful resource for connecting single people and helping them find the person just right for them.
What you need to remember is that this is a process. And a bit of a paradox, too. Though you are result oriented (you want to meet someone wonderful) you can’t be invested in outcomes. There are some things to remember as you get started.
• Clarify your goals and then look for sites that help you connect with people who have the same relationship goals that you do. For example, do you want to be online pen pals only or meet in person? If the latter, do you want casual, long-term, just friendship?
• Be dedicated to the process. Do the work, and try to breathe through setbacks and frustration. You will connect with a number of people online. You will meet some of them. And a few will be relationship material. The odds are against the first person you meet online being the one you end up with. (As previously mentioned, don’t be too invested in outcomes when you meet each person for the first time. Instead be open to possibility….)
• When you hit a roadblock or find that you are not having the results you want, do a little work—tweak your profile, answer more questions, change up your pictures, whatever helps fine-tune the process.
• Remember that every date you go on is an opportunity to either rule someone out or explore possible futures. If you are discerning and careful, you will meet lovely, interesting people. Even if they are not people you want to see a second time, you had a nice hour at a coffee shop making a connection. Good for you.
So what’s with the online sites? How to choose? What do you need to know to get started?
• Try them out. You will find that you like some and don’t click with others. Try one for a month or so—you can always shut down that profile and try another site. (It’s fine to be on 2 or 3 sites at once but more than that is hard as it takes time to stay on top of this.)
• Think about geography. The bigger sites tend to have a broader reach in non-urban areas. If you are over an hour from a city, consider the bigger sites.
• Check out how a site operates. If you are pretty assertive and want to be actively involved in the process, there are sites that are good for you. Other people want to take a more passive role, and there are sites that take over some of the work, by sending “flirts” or “messages” when you click on a profile or flag it. Then you can see if the person reaches out to you.
• Consider your financial commitment. If you can invest some money, any site will be fine for you. If you don’t want to spend money, find out what sites give a lot for a little. Some sites offer a lot to those who don’t pay, others much less, and others are pay only.
• There is a dating site for every person. Just looking at my clients alone, I know dozens of online dating success stories. From the big sites with huge databases to the special interest sites, the variety is incredible. Did you know there are sites for Star Wars fans, Ivy League graduates and Nascar enthusiasts? JDate (and others) for Jewish singles, Her for lesbians or GayCupid for gay men, people from a specific region of the country like Hudson Valley Singles, Sparkology for young professionals, and Our Time or Senior People Meet for people over 50. You name it—it’s out there. Of course—you can find all the above on general dating sites as well.
A few sites to consider (that have not already been mentioned above):
These are based online and also have apps for your smart device so you can take your matches with you:
• OK Cupid offers you the chance to answer over 1,000 questions. It uses an algorithm to match people with similar answers, and you can look to see what others have answered to the questions. The specificity of questions all but eliminates robots from the site. User-friendly app.
• Match.com has a long history and thus has chalked up many success stories. I hear it’s hard to navigate on the phone app.
• Zoosk gets a lot of high scores on internet searches. It has a lot of bells and whistles for people who want plenty of search options.
• Tinder is no longer just for people under 30 or just for hook-ups. Worth checking out.
• Plenty of Fish is 100% free and thus very popular. This means you have to spend the time sorting.
These are two popular dating apps available on smart devices only:
• Coffee Meets Bagel. (Limits the number of people you can see at one time.)
• Bumble. (Distinguished by the fact that women make the first move.)
If you are interested in friends only, try Stitch.
For the statisticians among you, think of online dating as a numbers game. You’ll kiss a lot of frogs on the way—but take the long view. The more people you talk to, the more people you’ll meet. Every person you meet increases your odds of success, which equals finding who and what you are looking for.
Online dating does work—and you can check out my blog on the subject to learn more about that and how to get started. I also have a program to help you.
My intention here is to help you see that it is worth getting started, not to overwhelm you. Professionals, such as myself can help you navigate the dating and relationship world. You can always reach out for help or advice as you take your first steps down this road. But do take those steps, because someone wonderful awaits you!
Previously published on Be Free to Love
Photo: Getty Images