How to Date Online (for the single parent).

by mssinglemama on September 18, 2008

I jumped into the online dating pool again last week. And wow is it busy out there…

As a single mom, finding the time to date is hard enough as it is, not even to mention actually findingthe men to date.

So, online dating is perfect for us. We get to curl up in our pajamas, grab a glass of wine and man shop. Yes, I said man shopping.

Sue me. I like my men and yes, I like to shop for men.

When it comes to man shopping, online dating is much easier than a night out at the bars, where your judgement is incredibly clouded by a drunken haze. And while man shopping does feel a bit odd – you can actually narrow your search down to eye color – it can still be romantic. It’s a new age and online dating is now 100% acceptable, if not the norm in some places, and for dating single parents it’s incredibly efficient.

If you’re on the fence, why not just see who’s out there? So far, I’m finding quite a few tasty prospects: a few doctors, a firefighter, a lawyer, and a musician!  Before I tell you the ins and outs – the politics of online dating – here’s a starter course for the beginners, if you’re more experienced move right on:

Online Dating 101 (for beginners)

1. Sign up for free and then you can surf away.

You’ll have to set up a profile with your headline, your description, all of that junk. But don’t stress out. Just write whatever flows because you can go and edit it later. And if you’re on Match or Yahoo, you can set your profile to private so no one can see you. Pretty nifty, huh? So you can search and peak at all of the guys but they won’t know. And you can even set your profile to be non-searchable, meaning you won’t turn up in any public searches. This is a huge plus if you’re worried about privacy. And it means you are completely in control. A man only sees your profile if you contact him first.

Read more on creating the perfect online dating profile here.

2. Prepare yourself for the rejection.

When I first delved into online dating, on e-Harmony, I was surprised at how much the rejection stung. Just like in real life, you throw yourself out there and then you can get slammed down. But – this too shall pass. You’ll become numb to it and you’ll feel better when you flip around and reject someone else. It just goes with the territory. Everyone is on there for the same reason and the virtual divide allows complete honesty.

3. Watch out for profile red flags.

Just like real life red flags, online profiles have them too. One picture? Red flag. Either he doesn’t know how to use a computer (not good) or he is fooling you with the one good picture he has – that, by the way, was shot five years ago. You need multiple pictures. Other red flags… “I just got out of a relationship so I’m back on the market ladies!” Yikes. Stay away from those guys. Unless he’s exceptionally hot and you’re just looking for fun. My point is this – read profiles carefully and listen to your gut.

Now you’re ready for the big time… dating online.

After my disasterous dive into e-Harmony last year, I chose Plenty of Fish this time around. Honestly, because it’s free… and it’s now the top online dating site out there. So here’s the drill, or at least my drill, while swimming with the millions of online daters. (And I’m still a newbie so correct me if I’m wrong.)

1. Surf and throw the bait.

I love Match, Plenty of Fish and Yahoo Personals because you have the power to search profiles. e-Harmony’s “matching system” is a scam, trust me I’ve tried. So, on search dating sites like Match you can narrow your criteria and search for the guy of your dreams. You can even go so far as to narrow him down by eye and hair color. Or, my favorite feature, children! Narrow your search or expand your search. Have fun with it and above all, laugh at yourself – think about it – you are man shopping! It’s funny.

2. The first contact.

You spot a catch. So what’s your first move? An e-mail. Keep it short and sweet. Say something like, “I noticed your profile, check out mine and if you’re interested let me know.” Throw in a comment about something on his profile for bonus points – he may have 20 e-mails to sort through so make yourself stand out. I’ve had SO many e-mail on Plenty of Fish… and I’ve only been on there for a week – but it seems like the guys are copying and pasting the same e-mail to dozens of women. There are no specifics, nothing about me or something they noticed in my profile. But don’t go overboard.

3. The reply.

He may ignore your e-mail, read it and delete it (you can see this on Plenty of Fish), or he’ll write back. So he’s interested. Now what? I hate actually checking my online dating e-mail, so if I feel comfortable I give them my personal e-mail or my MySpace page. Asking for a MySpace or Facebook page is fantastic because, unlike the dating sites, MySpace and Facebook give you an instant read into their personality, their style, their taste in music, their friends. Once I’ve checked out their MySpace or Facebook page then I’ll ask if we can chat on the phone.

4. The phone call.

A phone call is a must before you meet. You’re a single parent – dating, unfortunately, takes precious time away from you alone time and your kid time. Use the phone call as a chance to test the waters. Does he make you laugh? Does he ask about your day? Keep it brief if you can. Once I hit it off marvelously with a man on the phone – an e-Harmony guy – we talked for hours. And then, a few days later when we met, and there was absolutely no spark, it was incredibly awkward. I basically had to tell him I wasn’t physically attracted to him. Not cool. So keep the phone call brief and if you’re feeling a click – ask him out on the first date.

5. The date.

To avoid an awkward date from hell, put a time limit on the first date from the start. Say something like, “Tuesday will work but I have to be at the gym (insert other excuse here) by 7:00.” And then, if you’re having an amazing time you can change your plans and say, “Oh, I’ll just skip the gym.” If you’re having a horrible time, get the hell out of there and go meet your girlfriends. Another great idea – meet during your lunch break at work – you’ll only have 45 minutes.

6. The virtual dump.

So it didn’t work out? No big deal. Send him an e-mail like this one.

Done and done.

Above all… have fun! My status – I have a date with a hot firefighter from Plenty of Fish! I’m thinking next week, but he doesn’t know that yet. I still have to call him to set it up. As always, I’ll keep you posted…

Another post you might like:

»MySpace, Facebook and Dating in the Virtual World

Related posts:

  1. E-harmony Dating Review: for the single parent or any other dater
  2. Breaking News: A really, really cool single parent network!
  3. Online Dating: Rules of Thumb
  4. Why online dating gets a bad name…
  5. Does your online dating profile need a make over?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne B. (Crunchy Green Mom) September 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm

GREAT post. I thought I knew it all, but you are fabulous! I’ll keep you posted on what I find.

I am also tagging you on a meme that I am doing on my blog. It will be up shortly!

http://crunchygreenmom.blogspot.com

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Laura September 18, 2008 at 10:40 pm

What a cool post!!!

I have just taken a break from online dating – I really had no success apart from Soccer Boy and even that isnt going where I would like it to!!

Not sure yet I want to actually get back into it! LOL its HARD WORK!

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antony mwangi wanjohi September 19, 2008 at 2:18 am

hey laura am very lucky to find you my moble phone no, +254722826235 east africa kenya am 25yrs old very hot waiting for your reply love big

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Ms. Single Mama September 19, 2008 at 4:57 am

Suzanne – Thank you for the props – but don’t tag me! Don’t do it! I never, ever have time to respond. But it’s honor to be tagged by you babe.

Laura – you’re right… I’m thinking after I get two dates out of Plenty of Fish (the doctor and the firefighter) I’m going to take down my profile. It is really, really hard. But, since joining, I’ve just taken a back seat and have yet to even really search. But every time I open my account I have 6 new e-mails. I check those and then I’m exhausted.

I’m like – whew – that was enough man shopping for the day.

Tell us more about soccer boy if you can… where was your first date? and why isn’t it working out?

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Kitkat4real (SOLO dot MOM) September 19, 2008 at 5:53 am

Excellent tips! I have been dating online since the divorce in 2005. (Ok, yeah I know, what does that say about my luck?) But I think this is wonderful advice and things I have learned as well through the experience you point out here, ie. the long phone conversations, keep to more of a minimum and always look for red flags… TRUST ME!

This is great info.

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debra September 19, 2008 at 6:49 am

“It can still be romantic”….seriously? How?

I love your description, ‘man shopping’…that’s what it felt like. A huge, unemotional, overly critical, stystematic rejection of man after man. And then there are the men who react so badly to a non-response; I had one guy tell me I was rude for deleting his email without responding (it was clearly a cut and paste job and I didn’t even remember having read it when I got his rude note.) He then called me stupid for not remembering him, to which I responded “then it would appear that I’ve done you a favor by not responding. Why would you want to date someone who was stupid AND rude?!”

I’m a little anti-onilne dating right now (a bit hypocritical, given I’m crazy about the last guy I met online and things are going great!) I had a similar reaction to plenty of fish, it is exhausting! Emails all the time, chat windows popping up the entire time you’re logged in, it was just a bombardment. I pulled my profile down in a day, though luckily, not before finding this awesome guy!

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mssinglemama September 19, 2008 at 6:58 am

Debra! Wait? You met him online and it’s going great? But you’re anti-online dating? You’re funny.

But I get it – the rejection thing is hard and yes, for someone like me how HATES hurting other people’s feelings it’s tough to just delete, delete, delete.

And yes, Plenty of Fish is quite annoying – the website is just so poorly designed. You can turn the IM off… that makes a huge difference.

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Kgrrrl September 19, 2008 at 7:50 am

I did POF on and off for awhile and enjoyed it. I found it quick and simple and I definitely turned off the IM, that was irritating!
It was a good feeling to be put on someone’s ‘top’ list, or whatever it’s called…
My current boyfriend actually met some friends on there and even kept in touch with a few girls he had no interest on. I actually met a few guys I became friends with as well, and years later, still the odd msn, though i’d never date them.
Overall, it’s a bit overwhelming at times, but two of my friends met their current husbands and couldn’t be happier!

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jenn September 19, 2008 at 9:17 am

My poor brother has been trying the online dating thing. He tried e-harmony and was told he wasn’t compatible with anyone. He’s a nice guy and makes decent money, so I don’t know why he’s having such a hard time. I’ll have to tell him about plenty of fish and match.com. Maybe he’ll have better luck. Thanks for the advice.

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pisceshanna September 19, 2008 at 9:30 am

I’ve been talking to the same guy on POF for a long time, but I’ve never gotten the guts to make a date, or call him. Every dude I give my number to never calls me. *Sigh*

Maybe one day.

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debra September 19, 2008 at 10:06 am

MSM…I told you it was hypocritical! ; )

I guess this is a case of the ends justifying the means?

Didn’t stick around long enough to discover I could turn off the IM…good to know! Thanks!

Pisceshanna – I experienced that some with Match; people who wanted to chat, email, text but never took it to the phone call and meeting. I finally decided that within a week, if it was worth exploring, there needed to be a phone call and a plan to get together before too much time was wasted. Not a very romantic viewpoint, perhaps, but who has time for endless email etc for it to never materialize?

Kgrrl – love the ‘favorites’ function on POF, that’s how I found the guy I’m seeing now

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mssinglemama September 19, 2008 at 10:10 am

Debra – and I don’t think I answered your question on how it can be romantic…. I think any first date with a spark is romantic, no matter how you met. And I think meeting someone online is the norm (among my friends at least) so there’s a still a romantic element to it. Maybe I’m just overly romantic by nature.

I am SO going to check out who has me on their favorites tonight. I forgot about that! Thanks for pointing it out.

Pisces – I think you should switch it around and get their # because most guys (if I know men at all) freak out a bit at the idea of calling a girl they’ve not met. Try that with the guy you’ve been talking to… just say, “So, what do you say we actually talk on the phone?”

And then he’ll probably respond with his #.

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Laura September 19, 2008 at 10:36 am

OH PMSL!!! I just got a phone number!

Well there you go Ms Single Mamma – your blog could be the next hot thing in dating!

Soccer Boy and I are on date 5 (tomorrow night) – I like him – ALOT but he made it clear he wants a friends with benefits thing *sigh* So why then am I carrying on? Cos he has a night planned under the stars tomorrow and has cute nicknames for me and tells me I am sexy all the time!

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jonb September 19, 2008 at 10:41 am

haha maybe I’ll try POF since I am now single, lol.

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Mike September 19, 2008 at 10:41 am

My wife and I met through Match. We joke that if we had been on Eharmony at the same time we would have never been matched. Personalities were too different.

I say Vie La Difference. Three years and going strong (of course you’d have to ask her for sure)…

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single mommy September 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I going to print this post!

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Dawn January 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Okay, so I went over to POF to see what the heck this dating site was all about. My first message came from “slickWilly49″ and it came with two glasses of wine, a rose, a black pearl necklace and two white chocolate truffles. That man spent POINTS on me for a virtual gift. So I clicked on his profile and read that he’s, “Looking for a Good Women.” Freudian slip or red flag … or both.

A total chuckle and a half for this single mom shopping men on POF this New Year’s Day. Slick Willy says he looks like George Clooney and there’s a picture up which shows the jig is up and I almost peed in my pants.

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sean January 11, 2009 at 2:12 pm

hello people…i couldnt help but laugh reading all this…POF is really a nasty place to wanna go, i tried it dint work,you just get all this shit from people that just think its bout playing and toying with peoples hearts…you know anywhere i can find a decent and good lady please leave a reply…i tried too hard and nothings come out of it…thanks

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pammie February 12, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Interesting post. I, too, have been blogging about online dating (and many other things). I've never tried Plenty of Fish. I HATED eHarmony, Match, and Yahoo. I've had luck with SinglesNet, Cupid, OKCupid, CraigsList (believe it or not), and others for people with more specific interests.

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relatiesites March 27, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Nice post! Thumbs up!

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Richard Young August 30, 2009 at 9:39 pm

i have been trying so hard to find a single or someone special on internet but it is very hard and i will really need to know if there is a special gurl out there for me so please email me or IM me on yahoo messenger.. heartsoft84@yahoo.com i will be happy to know more about you.
Richard Young

Reply

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hannah June 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Hello dear.

My name is miss hannah. i am a young girl
with full of love, joy,happiness, caring
and understanding. i came across your profile
today and have interest in you,i will also like to know you more,and i want you to send a mail to my email address so i can give you my picture for you to know whom l am.Here is my email address (hannahharry788@yahoo.com)
I believe we can move from here.I am waiting for your mail to my email address above.(Remember the
distance or color does not matter but love matters allot in life)
please contact me i will send you my picture thanks.

( hannahharry788@yahoo.com )

Reply

Leonard Mac November 30, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Hi

am Leonard Mac have registered on the site not long and am still trying to get used to it as i have not even wrote or gotten the time to be on any site untill today . I was trying to study and learn about the website when i was browsing profiles and saw your profile and i got a bit interested and felt that it should not hurt to send you a little sweet note .I had always been skeptical about online dating, and i still am feeling that way since i created my profile here, because i never quite believed that it might work for me.

I created my profile just like my friend advised me to. he met his soul mate here, and they would be getting married soon…. but i had just been a sad man after loosen my late wife and daughter and thought that i could never know what it is feels like to love again, but he convinced me to give this a try and then i thought that i could. After all, i have nothing to lose if nothing comes out of this. I honestly, did not think much about seeing anybody here that would match the preferences i want in a woman, and when i finally saw ur profile , i was surprised that it was from a lady with all what i ever wished for . I hope that we would always be in better correspondence. While reading through your profile, something about the way you talked about yourself caught my eyes and i thought to reply you as i dont think there is a restriction to who should contact who first.. either the man or the woman.. what matters to me is the compatibility. To make me more surprise and have the greatest of all wonder, can you please meet me at leonardmac1470 at y a h o o ….. am online now you can add me to your list if you don’t mind consider this the best opportunity to meet the best chat mate in your life.

Leo

NOTE: PLEASE ADD ME OR WRITE DIRECT TO MY EMAIL SO I CAN CHAT OR REPLY YOU DIRECT FROM MY PHONE INSTANTLY THANX ALOT

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