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How to 'win' at online dating

(66 Posts)
OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 20:11:50

This may be controversial... Have name changed.

Online dating has proved very successful for me and three friends ie we are happily married to lovely men we met online dating. We are ordinary women with decent jobs, not supermodels / mega wealthy etc.

Constantly seeing threads on MN and other sites where women are OD and having a nightmare meeting decent guys who don't just want a shag. The people who nay-say the most make (IMHO) certain key mistakes. I would therefore like to share my 'tough love' tips for online dating. Please don't feel patronised and do feel free to flame me to death. Doesn't change the fact that for me and three friends we have met and married brilliant guys who we met OD.

1. Don't expect to enjoy every date - this is crucial. I once read something where OD was compared to job hunting - it involves time investment (online), getting dressed up and feeling nervous (for dates). It is not always a comfortable experience and it is MUCH easier to stay home. No pain, no gain. I went on 20+ first dates over a 5 month period before meeting DH. At least one date a week most weeks, occasionally two.

2. DO NOT HAVE SEX ON FIRST DATE - or indeed in first month. I have read exceptions to this where it has worked out (online) but don't know of anyone personally. They are the exceptions. Why complain that men only do OD for sex, then put out on the first date? If this sounds Victorian, can't be helped. Making a man wait gives you both a chance to suss each other out and builds anticipation. It also immediately eliminates the opportunists / married men etc.

3. Don't waste months online - few emails, phone call, suss them out - then meet. You can have great online chemistry and they can tick all the boxes - but when you meet there's something not there. Happened to me a couple of times and one of the guys was amazing - but just no spark. We were both regretful about it but after 4 lovely dates we were honest that something was missing. Hugged and wished each other well.

4. Keep dates short and sweet - meet for an evening coffee. Yes it is a pain getting all dressed up for one hour, but saves being stuck at dinner with the world's most annoying guy.

5. If they cancel more than once without major reason, drop them like a stone. Ditto if they keep texting (especially flirting / sexting) without ever wanting to meet.

6. Here's the clincher - DON'T SWEAT THE SILLY STUFF. I'm talking here especially about clothes and other easily changed things. Can't believe how many people I know who went on dates with nice guys then obsessed over their shoes, their hair etc. My DH arrived at our first date wearing THE UGLIEST JACKET IN HISTORY! By 6 months in, it was away to the charity shop. I was lucky - saw very fashionable friend in action when I met her then BF. He was wearing a dad jumper and trousers too short for his legs. He is now her DH and dresses like a normal human being, thanks to her patient guidance. Ditto my husband (took about a year to get rid of the worst offenders, including the anorak and the schoolboy shoes grin).

7. Be prepared to expand your search area an extra few miles - it's amazing who appears in your search list for the sake of 20 miles.

This is my longest ever MN post but trust me, I had plenty of OD experience. Good luck in your search!

ps: if you just want a shag, ignore all this and pick the juiciest one you can find. I had a few 'friends with benefits' offers and with one was really tempted wink

Mrssamcam Mon 07-May-12 20:16:38

Is this in response to the other current thread about finding guys who just want sex? smile

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 20:25:41

Sam - a response to EVERY sad-eyed thread I have ever read online (across loads of sites) by women who are sick of meeting morons. Please don't any current posters take this personally - have read a few threads involving OD over last few weeks.

I reckon I have loads of hard-earned knowledge after my months of online dating and don't want it to go to waste! wink

Llareggub Mon 07-May-12 20:28:29

What sites do you recommend?

JoanRobinson2012 Mon 07-May-12 20:30:30

I think your point 6 is extremely patronizing to men... One of rules of successful relationships is surely that you should not be trying to change your partner or mold them into what you want?

If a woman came on here and said her boyfriend of six months was deciding what she wore, can you imagine the responses?

Mrssamcam Mon 07-May-12 20:34:09

IME- friend and family not me- the best sites have been Guardian, TImes, Match ( mixed views on this), My Single Friend ( but has a small number of profiles),

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 20:34:52

Really depends on area Llare - of me /friends I know 2 used Match (biggest site in our area), one used Dating Direct (she was slightly older and divorced with kids, in our area it seemed to have more slightly older men). Friend in London used (?) which had the added bonus of being free at the time.

I would also add that your profile and pictures are crucial. Another friend used OD and complained about guys who were contacting her. I re-wrote her profile and it totally changed the guys who contacted her. Unfortunately she threw in the towel after 4 dates which tbh is NOTHING! Meeting anyone decent in anything under double figure first dates is a miracle smile

Mumsyblouse Mon 07-May-12 20:37:03

Why is being frank about clothing such a taboo thing? My husband sometimes says, that's not really matching or that's not the best thing I've seen you in. Equally, I've removed a couple of his worst t-shirts to the charity shop, vaguely asking him as I shoved them in the bag and made a run for it.

I really think that in a nice friendly respectful relationship it can be ok to advise the other person on clothes, if done in a tactful manner. There's such a big difference between that and an abusive man not allowing his girlfriend out if she wears a short skirt or a low cut top, I'm surprised you have to spell it out (for one, it's very very rarely the only abusive feature).

Mrssamcam Mon 07-May-12 20:39:09

My friend who has now bought a house with her man from Match, used to go on several dates a week. Sometimes 2 a day at a weekend- coffee with one, dinner with another.

She was not sleeping with them.

After many frogs, one stuck- for a year but he didn't get on with her son so she ended it.

Then sh e met someone who lived near her but worked overseas most of the year- very overseas. They had a LDR for a couple of years then decided to buy together.

She had everything from 1 date to relationships lasting 2-3 months, then a year, then her final guy.

Point is- you have to keep going.....

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 20:40:43

Joan - you wouldn't say that if you'd seen the jacket DH was wearing. I believe 'mustard' would be the best colour matcher grin

And joking aside, my point is that many women rule out lovely men for totally trivial reasons. And in most cases these trivial reasons can be easily addressed if the other person is happy to go along with it. My DH simply has no interest in clothes and never knew what to buy for himself. Over time I got him bits and pieces at Xmas etc and he liked them so tended to buy more of that stuff himself. He in turn helped me get more organised with paperwork etc. IMO the best relationships are where you grow together and both contribute different things.

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 20:42:14

Totally agree Mumsy and Sam - and yay for your friend who stuck it out. I think staying power is the single most underestimated quality needed for OD.

joblot Mon 07-May-12 20:48:04

Some good points, thanks op.

I'm od-ing, im gay, and same rules pretty much apply.

sandyboots Mon 07-May-12 20:50:36

great thread OP - I was just thinking about how relative peoples age is to the whole OD thing too - I wonder if the 'kid in a sweetshop' mentality is more prevalent in say the older divorced/separated/married men (lets say 40 plus) who can't believe such a thing now exists and whether say late 20s early 30s people looking to settle down at a time when many of their peers are, and for whom internet dating seems far more 'the norm' might have a different experience?
just wondered what you thought, is all speculation on my part as I've never tried OD

lumbago Mon 07-May-12 20:51:22

I agree. My h had awful clothes. Now lovely.

RoloTamasi Mon 07-May-12 20:53:00

"I think your point 6 is extremely patronizing to men... One of rules of successful relationships is surely that you should not be trying to change your partner or mold them into what you want?

If a woman came on here and said her boyfriend of six months was deciding what she wore, can you imagine the responses?"

As a guy, I don't have any problem with it. The main message here is 'don't ditch otherwise decent guys for stupid reasons', clothing is just an easy example. And with clothes, most guys really don't care that much about what they are wearing and are perfectly happy to make changes their girlfriend prefers. Likewise with hairstyle or easily avoided habits. The same thing applies.

Point is, the kind of people who are good relationship material will be willing to make small changes. That goes for both men and women. The people who insist they must be loved exactly 100% as they are, and would get highly offended at a partner mentioning they prefer a particular hairstyle, are the kind of people who often stay single for a good reason. Being stubborn, uptight, uncompromising, and easily offended rarely capture's anyone's heart.

Small stuff really doesn't matter in the bigger picture.

BusinessTrills Mon 07-May-12 20:54:20

Influencing someone's choice clothes (especially if they don't actually care - not if they have carefully chosen the thing you hate) is not exactly the same as changing them.

If someone is a "throw on the first thing they see" kind of person, then you can make it so that the first thing they see is likely to be reasonably nice and not have holes in it.

If they deliberately chose the red skinny jeans with underwear showing then you have to decide if you can live with that or not.

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 21:07:56

Good luck with the OD joblot! smile

Sandy that's really interesting about the age thing but can't really answer. I know older friend found some of the slightly older men were a bit too settled and homely for her, also with one very nice guy there was an issue where they had totally different sex drives which eventually killed things off. She did meet someone else really nice who was same age as her.

And the one heartening thing I found with guys in early thirties - LOADS of them really did want to meet 'that special someone'. For all the complaining about 'men only want one thing' most of the guys I met were decent guys looking to settle down. I suspect your profile / photos are important in influencing this - I had a couple of nice 'dressed up, flirty but respectable' ones and a more fun 'back garden hanging out' one, rather than 'Here's me in a coyote ugly bar drinking shots from a dildo!!!' etc.

MissCeliaFoote Mon 07-May-12 23:12:30

Oh come on influencing someone's clothing isn't like forcing someone to be somebody they are not. When we first starting going out my boyfriend would think it OK to meet me for a drink in grey joggers, a bright pink T-shirt, and not having shaved for five days. I'm quite into fashion whereas he is quite geeky, so I really had to give him some guidance! As the OP says, it would be silly to rule a guy out for such a minor detail as the clothes he wears! I don't need help from a man with clothes, but there are plenty of minor things that my boyfriend has tried to change about ME - for instance, persuading me to go and see action/superhero films which I have ended up coming to really enjoy, or persuading me to be adventurous enough to go travelling with him which was the best experience of my life. So please let's not compare what is a normal part of many relationships, influencing your partner, to being controlling/abusive! It's just silly.
OP, I like your list!

TheHappyHissy Mon 07-May-12 23:12:59

FAB thread ODQ!

You make me (44 this year) feel much more positive about the dating thing. It felt AWFUL to meet one, no good, another, ditto, another, worse.

I have recently realised that I AM interviewing, for the best job in the world; To be loved by ME! grin

Trouble is, I just can't do juggling, it just damages my feelings of integrity, I end up losing massive amounts of sleep over it, seriously. Plus with child care, I can't AFFORD to have babysitter more than once a week. Going out is a HUGE effort in logistics tbh.

OnlineDatingQueen Mon 07-May-12 23:23:59

Thanks Celia and Hissy smile

And it really is tough at times, I know the feeling Hissy. After one date I came home and cried, thinking, "How many more dates must I go on?! When will I meet the one?!" smile But like anything in life I really do believe that it's the people who keep getting back up who get the reward.

And on the integrity thing, I think sometimes people overthink this. When you go on a first date you are meeting a stranger. You owe them nothing, they owe you nothing - it works both ways. If you arrive feeling like they owe you something, then IMHO you have spent too much time online before meeting RL. BUT... if I was meeting someone for a third date or beyond I would personally not have wanted to be dating someone else at the same time. I probably wouldn't even snog until third date tbh - peck on the cheek is fine smile

Mumsyblouse Mon 07-May-12 23:30:35

Hissy, I have a friend who has been in tears over OD recently, it has damaged her sense of herself quite a bit. She was meeting someone nice, sleeping with them (not all of them, only the one or two she clicked with) then it would fizzle, they would stay on the site continuing to date and she would feel diminished by the whole experience and like noone would ever want her sad

My tips for her: don't have sex or even snog someone on a first date, indeed many dates, try and suss out if they are really into you, move the age range upwards (she was looking under 32) as she was meeting lots of guys who were young and handsome and still wanting to go out a great deal and not really settle down, and consider men who have children/already been married, looking for someone 'fresh out of the box' is less likely as we all age, and again, will tend to attract younger guys still playing around. There may be a great guy whose wife didn't fancy him (judging by MN threads) but you do. Don't reject people in their thirties for having lived.

My final tip for her was to build in breaks, date a few, then have a rest and a reassess.

Not sure if this will help anyone, but she was making some classic mistakes (coming on really strong, pestering guys for second/third dates, sleeping with them when really she wants to find love and would feel diminished by casual sex and so on and so on).

Magicmayhem Mon 07-May-12 23:32:59

I met my fiancee on plenty of fish, and I agree with your list, but do you mind if I just add a few as well,
8 - don't be afraid to contact someone you like first, just a short cheery message will do, I was looking honest for a friend and saw the lovely man for me! I contacted him and well the rest is history.. we're getting married next year..

9 - If you have children, don't let them meet him for a while... this relationship is all about you... also, when they do meet, don't leave them alone together.. when my bf first started to stay over he had to get up at 6-30 am and walk the dog with me!

I agree with your number 7, my BF lives 70 miles away... luckily he works round the south of england and can organise his customers round this way.

10 - above all enjoy, go out for a laugh and see what happens rather than looking for a husband.

janelikesjam Tue 08-May-12 03:01:24

Yes, I agree with most of your post, OP. I wish I had some serious advice before I started, would have saved me lots of time, and heartache.

I would add - the older you get the harder it is though sad, its easier to meet decent guys in your 30s and early 40s.

One paradox though. You are right they owe you nothing, you owe them nothing - I think you are right to have a no-nonsense approach. BUT at the same time you are making yourself available (and vulnerable in some way) and it can have a negative impact when it often goes "wrong", which unfortunately has been alot of my experience.

That said, I think it is still useful to "get out there", an education in some ways if nothing else.

And the best piece of advice I can add, at least from my experience, is to look for and make friends first, and even make this clear in the ad.

OnlineDatingQueen Tue 08-May-12 18:15:40

Jane I agree it is a paradox but I really do think it is important to always keep in mind that you don't know the person before you meet. You might feel like you do but you don't, if that makes sense? I think that's why it's so crucial not to invest too much of yourself before meeting up with people in RL.

It may be harder to meet people if you're a bit older but I do know my friend (who was mid-forties) met someone but had to be persistent. I honestly think the persistence is the key and emotionally guarding yourself for the first few dates is key to being able to be persistent. If you get all excited about a guy you've met exactly twice it IS more disappointing if they turn out to be a twat and then it's harder to 'risk' going on the next date IYSWIM.

I agree that it's good to get out there - tbh I think it was good for my social skills if nothing else. I think once you're settled into a job you can get quite comfy - not meeting many new people. I enjoyed having to pass an hour or two chatting to someone I'd never met, especially people who were very different from me.

Good luck if you're still doing it smile x

MilitaryWag Tue 08-May-12 18:34:29

Hardly patronising
My husband's dress sense was dreadful when we met. Not sure if being a Yank had anything to do with it.He welcomed my input on his clothes and went from hating clothes shopping to loving it. By his own admission he was clueless about what suited him and what didnt.

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