I realize that my enjoyment goes hand in hand with not having anything at stake, no big expectations. I'm not looking to replace Robert (couldn't be done even if I wanted to, which I don't) or find someone to give my life meaning and joy (my life already has meaning and joy). I want to bring more male energy into my life, meet new people, get out, have new experiences. If that results in connecting with someone wonderful, that's a big bonus.
I wrote this on a message board for women over 50 in response to one person who was scared to date:
If you think of dating as your way to learn about another person and about yourself without risking anything, it can be fun -- go for coffee or a walk or dinner with someone new, talk, see what you both enjoy discussing and doing. It's when you think of dating as auditioning a potential soulmate that it becomes fraught with anxiety, unpleasantness, and emotional danger.
First dates aren't scary to me in the least. I'm interested in learning what we do and don't have in common, and which of the divergences matter a lot. Plus, the writer in me loves hearing people's stories, and first dates are a great way to learn a huge amount in an hour, because it's expected that we share our stories.
Although I'm newly dating after almost ten years, I already have some strong opinions about online dating do's and don't's. (When did you ever know me to not have strong opinions?) Here are a few, aimed at men because that's my experience. I'm sure I'll add more as I proceed, and I encourage you to add your own. (Be constructive, not nasty, please.)
1. Please use a current image as your default photo. It's fine to include older photos also -- I love to see the long, bushy hair you wore in 1969!--but label them with the year (if your site permits captions), and make those secondary photos, not your main one.
2. Include at least one recently taken close-up of your face. Do. Not. Wear. Sunglasses. I can't tell you how many profiles I skip over because the man is wearing sunglasses. I need to see your eyes.
3. Have a photo taken if you don't have one already. You don't need to go to a photography studio -- all your friends have digital cameras. Make your default photo just you -- no buddies on a fishing trip, no arms around a woman who might be your daughter or maybe your ex-wife, and absolutely no edited photo with the woman at your side cropped out (we can tell)!
1/7/11 update: I really don't believe in ridiculing people, but I have to share this with you. A 46-year-old man who wants a partner age 36-48 wrote me -- I'm 67-- and probably many others from the look of his boilerplate message. Although his message didn’t attract me – he misspells words, says he likes shopping malls, and doesn’t use capital “I” – I looked at his profile. He says he has a PhD, makes more than $100,000, and ends his profile with “i am a religion person,and i am into oil and gas.” I wonder which university granted his doctorate. His only photo is in sunglasses.
I'd like to be kind and send a nice "no thank you," as I advise you to do, but what can I possibly say?