I really believed that the key to my relationship journey was through my “referral only” brand of connection. As previously stated here, I felt that when you referred someone to me to date there was an added level of security and vetting, if you will.
Well after two fairly confusing and unsettling “relationships”, I decided, with the final advice of my high school boyfriend, that I would try online dating.
“Look,” he argued. “At some point you are going to run out of friends and family who have single friends. Online dating is anonymous, impartial and I think it is what you should be doing.” What can I say? He’s always been nothing, if not rational.
Blame it On Valentine’s Day
On Valentine’s Day, I was lucky enough to receive two boxes of chocolates from co-workers, a bouquet of flowers from my son, and my favorite chocolate covered cherries from my sister. My sister and I made a visit to my mother in her Assisted Living facility, where, in her Memory Care area, the event was celebrated with colored clothing and chocolate pudding. We spent a good amount of time with her, and I noticed that I became increasingly sad. It was a long-held belief of mine that my mother would have been diagnosed sooner if she had had “someone.” Living alone, talking to her children almost daily was not the same thing. The repetition we eventually noticed, was chalked up to simply forgetting which of her kids she had told the story. I always felt that if she had a “significant other” who loved her and cared for her, she would have been better off.
My mother, only 23 years my senior, was sitting in this place piecing together the shards of her memory as she looked at us. While there, I felt an unreasonable panic–could this be me in two decades? Would my kids be shoving my favorite chocolates in my mouth as I smiled benignly?
I was emotional as I left, and after a quick dinner, I headed home to be alone.
The Cure Is Tom Selleck
Deeming the day a washout, the only course of action left to me was to climb into my big four-poster bed, puff up my fluffy pillows, grab a glass of red wine, a small box of Swiss chocolates and watch Tom Selleck in Blue Bloods. (Don’t judge me!)
At one point, I got a pop-up from Match.com offering “Valentine’s Day Special.” I looked at the debris on my bed, little balls of foil candy wrappers, and decided to shake it up a little. Armed with my half-drank glass of Cab, I began my profile on Match.com. As I’m doing it, I’m feeling a little exposed–it is like online food shopping. I need someone over 5’10”, married before, with kids, I don’t care what they look like physically (except for height) must have a sense of humor, job, etc.
Within a half an hour, I had my profile “up” and sat sipping as the “likes” and “views” rolled in. A little loosened up, I responded to someone who “liked” me and we started an exchange. He was in “finance” lived one town over and asked would I meet him for a drink at a place I knew well. Promising beginning, I thought as I responded that it was too late and I wouldn’t be going out that night.
“What are you wearing?” came the next text from him.
“Pajamas” I answered.
“That is SO hot! I’m having impure thoughts about you.”
Now, I should state here that my profile photos are so modest, they scream “Suburban Mom Here,” but far from being deterred he forged on.
“Meet me now.”
“No,” I answered.
“I’m so hot for you.”
Next guy–”What are you wearing?”
I don’t answer.
“Do you like chocolate? Did you get any for Valentine’s Day?”
“Yes, I did. “
“Do you like light or dark chocolate?”
I answer “Dark chocolate. It is better for you.”
“Interesting….very interesting indeed….says a LOT about you.” Complete with winking, tongue lolling emoji.
The third gentlemen to engage skipped the polite preamble and went right for the “ask.”
My mother used to say that nothing good happened after midnight. This was usually invoked when we had been out past curfew. So I will mix it up a bit and say on Match.com NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER 10 pm. I know that there must be exceptions, but if you are a first-time user, avoid this time. Let’s just say that it seems that everyone chatting on Match.com after 10 pm is looking for something rather specific.
And Now I’m Done
I was just about to delete my Match.com account, when I got a message. The message was funny, and was from someone who we had mutually “liked”. I answered his chat, and we went back and forth for awhile. He was fairly local to me, a divorced father, smart and most importantly had a GREAT sense of humor. We agreed to exchange numbers and made plans to meet on Sunday for coffee.
Saturday night, I get home from being out with friends, throw on Netflix and I get a text. “Are you watching Netflix?” From there we had a multi-hour text conversation, even though we are going to meet the next day. As he signs off he says, “I feel like this is Christmas Eve!!! I’m so excited I will be meeting you tomorrow.”
How sweet is that?
The First Date
I get up, go to the gym, and get ready. It is a beautiful late Winter day–sunny and 50 degrees. I’m dressed exactly as I dress—jeans, white blouse, navy blazer-my uniform.
As I’m driving I realize that despite leaving quite early, I will, in fact be a little late due to beach traffic. I hit the open road and picked up the pace. As I’m coming into town, I noticed flashing lights and I am pulled over on the bridge.
License, registration, insurance—back to the patrol car to check all of it, and then I’m on my way.
I arrive at the coffee shop only a few minutes late. My date is sitting outside in the sun, with a big smile on his face. After coffee and hours of conversation, he confessed, “I’m so happy to meet you. I was afraid I’d be disappointed because we had such a good connection. And then you got out of the car, and I thought, “She’s beautiful!”
Great first date, coffee into drinks into dinner.
I have had a number of first dates from that day—some have been great with possibilities to explore, some have been bad (I walked a mile in heels to a restaurant with a guy who wanted the exercise, only to get there and find that he did not have the required facemask. I wanted to graciously duck out, but couldn’t get an UBER so I had to walk another mile back with him), and others have been perfect— for someone else.
Rules of Engagement
If you are new to Match or online dating, here are a few things that I have learned so far;
If it seems too good, it is!
If some fabulous looking guy, who says he is 58, yet looks 28 says they like you, ignore it. Match is pretty good at finding these creeps, but a few slip through. I got one and I LMAO because the picture was literally from someone’s high school yearbook from 2020!
Set Your Limits Reasonably
If you want someone who has been married before, has kids and lives in your area, set that as your criteria. If someone from Pennsylvania “likes” you, don’t like him/her back, unless you want to split your time between your home and Lycoming, PA. Additionally, in this time of acute divisiveness, you can add your political or social leanings into your profile.
Most Men (And Women) Are Realistic
It is my experience that men in my age group are looking for women of a similar age. Every once in a while you will see some 65-year-old who capped the age of prospective women at 40, I just roll my eyes and chuckle. Or you see a very out-of-shape guy, who insists that only “athletic build” or “slim women” need apply, again eye roll.
There are plenty of men and women out there who are looking for a fully-formed and developed individual, you will find them.
Your Profile Is Your Calling Card
For God’s sake, ladies and gentlemen, please do the following—keep it light, keep it positive. We are not “matching” in the hopes of finding a cure for cancer, and if that is your motivation, I’m sure there is a more serious site for that. Keep your pictures current and include at least one that is full-body. You want the person who “likes” you to be pleasantly surprised when they meet you, not mortally disappointed. If you are self-conscious, just know that by showing a full-body shot, you are weeding out individuals before they meet you. Could you think of anything worse than someone meeting you and thinking, “I thought she was curvier than that, or thought she was skinnier than that.” FOR MEN ONLY—Don’t lie about your height! If you are 5’8” say so, there are women who will want a man of your height. Trust me, taller women, like myself, know the difference between 5’8” and 5’10”.
Are You In A Good Place?
If you are not in a good place in your life, online dating is not for you today. Why? Because you shouldn’t rely on strangers for affirmation. And if you do happen to “match” with someone, that person is unwittingly entering into a relationship with someone who may have some serious issues that need outside attention. i.e. unmanaged mental health issues, substance abuse, unacknowledged grief, etc.
Don’t Take It Too Seriously
You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and a good amount of the time, those you “like” may not “like” you back. DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY! It is the same as when we were dating before the internet (Yes, in the days before the Earth’s crust cooled) we would be out, meet someone and walk away thinking, “Eh, not my type.”
It Can Be A Time Suck
As with social media in general, you can spend as little or as much time as you want on these sites. My advice, check it no more than once per day and limit your time. Don’t get pulled into long conversations with people who may just be looking for someone to talk to, and have no intention of ever meeting.
Under no circumstance are you ever to give your full name, your address, or any other personal information to someone you meet online. Additionally, when I go on a first date, or even a second, I share my location with my sister. Match has its own date locator service, but I’d rather rely on family. And never, ever, give/loan money, your car, or anything else to someone you don’t know.
For all my single friends, widowed or divorced, men or women, would say it is definitely worth the time to get some good pics, write an UPBEAT profile and give online dating a try.
Claudia Lucey is a widowed mother of four, mostly adult children. Her “happy place” is the beach, where she spends every waking moment in the Summer. But spending time with her children is her greatest joy. Her philosophy is that laughter, even through tears, is the greatest emotional outlet. Nothing makes her happier than a good laugh, even at her own expense. She is a Director of Marketing for a construction company, yet she is a trained journalist who loves to write and photograph buildings of any size or shape.