SPARKS SPEAKS OUT™ — We didn’t ask for it, but here we are…
When I last left the single’s scene, it was all about college parties, spilled drinks, and locking eyes with a cute guy across a crowded room. I come back, some 20 years later, and it now looks the same to me as it does when I’m buying shoes online — pick your color, pick your size, go to check out, “Do you have a promo code?” I had left the single’s world for two critical decades: the internet went public, and cellphones became “smart,” and look what happened to dating. I didn’t want any part of this manufactured craziness.
The problem? I found out quickly that online dating had become pretty popular, and my other choices for meeting men had greatly diminished. Happy Hours, parties, single’s events — they were not popping up on social calendars the way they used to. I decided that I had to jump in, or be left out. I assumed everyone else had come to the same conclusion at some point in their own journeys.
Six years, and multiple mistakes, embarrassments, and unnecessary expenses later, I’ve navigated my way through the various dating apps and sites. I’ve learned my lessons the hard way, and honed my skills, too. I’ve gained a lot of experience, and it has taught me how to save time, effort, and money. So, if you are going to use technology to shop for romance as well, here are my Top 5 Tips for Online Dating After Divorce:
1) Don’t pay for a dating app!
Most apps and online dating sites have free options that work just fine. Beware of those that ask for a credit card, or require you to spend a lot of time filling out a profile, before you can see the service, or the members. Do your research first — there are many options out there. Choose the service that looks best to you, based on what you are looking for. Do not lock yourself into a membership, or long-term commitment, until you have seen and tried at least 3–4 other services first.
2) After you have selected your service, just LOOK.
Think of it as window shopping in another country, where you don’t speak the language yet. Do not enter the store when you first get there. For your first few days, just look through the window, see what’s inside, and watch what others are doing. As tempting as it will be to jump right in, this is exactly when you will make all of your mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing. Soon enough, you will be ready to test the waters. Then, slowly walk in and give it a try.
3) Think of your profile as your own personal billboard.
Putting a profile together is your opportunity to present yourself to others on your dating site — put some time and effort into it. Consider what you want to say about yourself, and think about what is most important to you in a potential mate, too. Be sure to include both in your profile — it’s a common mistake to include only one or the other, and that only gives half the picture. Speaking of pictures…use CURRENT photos of yourself that are clear, close-up, and show you having fun. Finally, keep it short and sweet. You will have plenty of time to share more information later when you match with someone. (Note: Please PROOFREAD! Auto-correct is not your friend. “Message” can easily be changed to “massage,” and I have seen it happen people! I can’t even imagine what the responses must have looked like).
4) BE SAFE AT ALL TIMES.
You can never hear this enough: Don’t give out personal information to strangers. Don’t post information about, or photos of, your children. NEVER loan anyone money. If someone is making you uncomfortable, block and report them. Nice people get taken advantage of quickly by strangers — and, these people are strangers to you, don’t forget that. If someone is rushing to meet you before you’re ready, consider that a red flag. If they are only texting and will not get on the phone: red flag. If they are not available to meet after you have spent some time getting to know them: red flag. Read the 15 Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse to become familiar with what to watch out for. The only person who can have your back in this situation is you.
5) It takes two.
Online dating is all about making a match. As you know, matches are consensual, and this can be frustrating sometimes. You are not failing if you don’t immediately connect with someone. Keep trying. Don’t make the common mistake of adjusting your standards just because you haven’t met someone, yet. If a person lives too far away, or has interests or beliefs that conflict with yours, having company on a Saturday night is only going to fix Saturday night. Think about it. Having patience will pay off.
Most of us did not expect to be single again in our lifetimes. If we did, we probably didn’t plan on buying potential matches using apps on our cellphones. Embrace the situation for what it is. If you get frustrated, shut the dating apps down for a while and do something that makes you happy instead. How about shopping online for a new pair of shoes?
Susan Sparks is a 20 year victim, and 6 year Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA®). She is the author of Sparks in Love, the founder of the national charity The SODA Fund, and the creator of TheSoda-Pop.com — all dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse. She writes as an Expert Blogger for multiple digital media sites, and works on select projects with The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) — donating a portion of proceeds from every sale of Sparks in Love to both The Hotline and The SODA Fund. Susan plans to write three other books in the “Sparks” series to further the cause, and will bring Sparks in Love to the screen in 2019–2020.
Want to be ready when you make that match? Check out: 3 Ways Not to Ruin Your Next First Date, also by Susan Sparks