Online dating advice
Is online dating the holy grail for single women with children who'd love to find a new partner, but for whom getting out is akin to climbing Everest? Yes and no, say Mumsnetters who've tried it out.
It's certainly worked for some - Mumsnet Talk threads are sprinkled with good-news stories of love found and a new life embraced. But the watchword is: online dating can change your life, but you have to be prepared to put in some spadework first.
1. Be realistic
You're very, very unlikely to strike gold on your first date. Don't have unreal expectations: ahead of you is a bit of a slog, but if you stick with it you have a good chance of 'clicking' with someone eventually.
2. Be honest about yourself
Talk to a good friend before you write your profile, and get her advice. You want to be as honest as possible: if you love opera then fine, say it - but if you're someone who wishes they loved opera, but who really doesn't, leave it out. You want to find a partner who'll love you for who you are, not for who you wish you were. By the same token, don't play yourself down: be proud of your qualities.
3. Get a photo (early on)
Looks aren't everything but they do matter. So don't hang around too long before you swap pictures, if they're not up on your profile pages already. However lovely a potential partner sounds in emails, you need to see what he looks like. Don't you?
4. Talk before you meet
How someone sounds on the phone can tell you a lot about them, so make sure you have a chat before you meet face to face. Think about whether you want to Skype or to chat by phone - Skype could be more daunting than a phone conversation. Don't chat for hours - you want to get a sense of what he (or she) is like (and to make the arrangements for meeting up), that's all.
4. Don't be scared to move from online to real life
A common mistake, say veterans on the Relationship Talk board, is to spend too long chatting online and to postpone getting down to having real-time encounters by phone and face to face. But 'real-life' encounters are what will really give you a gut feeling about whether to proceed, so don't delay.
6. Meet in a safe place
It's so obvious we hardly need to tell you this, but plan to meet in a public place - the first time you meet someone you've connected with online isn't the time to have a meal at your house or his, however difficult your childcare issues.
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7. Keep dates short
If you're bowled over, you can always plan to meet again tomorrow. But far, far worse to have a whole evening stretching ahead when you realise even before you sit down that this isn't the man, or woman, for you.
8. Have an escape plan
In case you need to scarper, get a friend to call you 30 minutes into the meeting (it's perfectly understandable that you'll want to answer the phone if you've left children with a babysitter).
9. Trust your instinct
Our instincts protect us and guide us through our lives, so pay attention to yours. However lovely he sounded in his profile, however much you seemed to click in your online chats, if your gut feeling when you meet is that he's not for you, move swiftly on.
10. Keep the children out of it
Resist the temptation to tell your children about your dates - it will unsettle them. For now, this is about you, not about your children.
- Got a question or insight about online dating? Please share it on the Relationships Talk board.
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