A Bit Scared of On-Line Dating!

“Bob, have you joined our new OnlyMums and OnlyDads dating site yet? I bet you’ll meet the love of your life when you do”.

Rebecca knows how to put a man on the spot!

Love of my Life?

 Do I really, I mean REALLY want to find the love of my life?

As with millions of other lone-parents I now find myself asking this simplest of questions; one that in my early twenties didn’t even get a moment’s thought. But now it seems to be a really good thing to ask.

I’ve been a full-time single parent now for 7 years.  All single parents will agree there are some low points in raising children on your own (and they don’t need repeating in this post). But there are also some good things too. Broadly speaking, you get time to rediscover who you are and to re-evaluate your values and aims in life; these are rare commodities. Many of us born-again singletons take these opportunities seriously. And we can change as a result.

At the risk of sounding a little over analytical, Rebecca’s question left me asking who might this “love of my life” be?

Who are you?

Reviewing my “back catalogue” of previous relationships (not vast) I can state categorically that race, weight, height, hair colour, eye colour, or indeed age, have had any bearing whatsoever on who I have previously found attractive. It’s the same with religion and politics. I’ve fallen for Muslims, agnostics, Sikhs, atheists, Buddhists, Doc Martin-wearing left wingers and public school educated, stocking-wearing Tories. 

I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I really don’t seem to have a “type.”

That, on the face of it, seems to have enlarged my search for the “love of my life” down to potentially anyone!  But that is not quite true…

Re-evaluation?

…well it’s not like I haven’t had time to think about things!

Certain traits and characteristics stand out for me now as highly appealing. I know (like I guess we all do) that no matter how sexy and good-looking someone is, unless there is that basic shared sense of common purpose, any relationship will be ultimately doomed!

So who then?

  1. Someone who is a bit odd! I have put this trait down first because it’s probably fundamental for me. Quirky might be a better word – I’m not sure. But someone who feels that they are a little uncomfortable in the world they live in is important to me. For one thing it gives them…
  2. A questioning mind. I’ve already stated that particular religious and political beliefs are not that important. What is important (and I will bring in work and raising children at this point) is that all are approached with a questioning attitude. “Answers” for me are an incredible turn-off. I don’t like them! Not just because they are all too often wrong – but they display a self-belief that I can’t be doing with.
  3. Ambition. What somebody does is of little consequence to me. But whatever it is, approaching it with some ambition is wonderfully sexy in my book.
  4. Spontaneity. I’m not a lover of things planned. I live by the belief that “planned” is just not as good as spur-of-the-moment.
  5. Laughter. A desire and willingness to laugh at me. And to laugh at themselves is crucial. I’m not talking about telling jokes either. But a near caustic, biting humour excites! Oh, and one last thing…
  6. Non-horse owning! I won’t dwell on this, (and I say this as someone who is not the jealous type) but if you went off every morning to muck out a horse, well for me….that’s just too odd!

So Rebecca – the answer to your question is “no”. But I am thinking about it….

…the truth is, as you know dear colleague, the “love cells” in my heart (and my brain) have taken a bit of a knock in the last few years…and I’m more than a little scared about opening myself up fully to the opportunities that you tell me are out there. But you have lodged the thought with me Rebecca. And for that, many thanks.

I think?!

I am interested in what others have done to “take the plunge”. Was it scary? How did you write your profile? How can you tell what someone is really like on-line…? So many questions!

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About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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39 Responses to A Bit Scared of On-Line Dating!

  1. Anna Ellis says:

    Gosh darn it, Bob, I’m already taken!

    I took the plunge by accident, having been badly hurt by both fathers. I wasn’t looking for the love of my life, which is probably why I found him (again!); I was renewing a friendship at a trying time for both of us (he’s an Only Dad too…)

    The again bit is a long and wonderfully weird story, which will have to be told over copious quantities of either real ale or very good wine…

    My geliebter and I didn’t meet up through online dating, although we did spend the first 6 months of what’s turned out to be a wacky 8 years so far emailing each other every day.

    My eldest son is currently following suit, via Skype, with the love of his life, who’s the friend of the girlfriend of one of his World of Warcraft kin. She lives thousands of miles away – you couldn’t make it up!

    If I’ve got any insight from my experiences, I think an enduring friendship is more important – it allows you to be yourself. My love of my life is also my best friend. We have spats, he doesn’t react well to my panic attacks, he takes forever to commit to something (but once he’s committed, that’s for keeps) and he has the ability to regress to 8 years old at inconvenient moments, but none of that puts even a dent in how we feel about each other. We’re fantastically competitive, but also great team players. I’m his competent harpy as well as his treasure. It’s fun.

    • onlydads says:

      Your final paragraph is it. It’sjust that. It’s about having the love of your life and your best friend all wrapped up in one person.

      Good luck to your son too – I didn’t know women played World of Warcraft??

      Thanks (as always) for wonderful response to this post by the way – it’s great to hear good news 🙂

      Bob x

  2. Nikki says:

    Work colleagues and friends nagged me to give the on-line dating a go – I ummed and arred and eventually took the plunge! Wrote my profile with a couple of work colleagues! It was a bit like ‘my single friend’ listening to their opinion as to what to write, i then just summarised/personalised it in my own words.
    You seem to have a very fluent and interesting way with words, i would have thought writing your profile would be a breeze?
    I don’t think that you can tell what someone is really like by e-mail,instant messaging or texting – some people can but i do like the face to face contact. I would like to think that i am quite a confident person but in all honesty i do get very nervous before meeting someone the first time, no matter how much you have e-mailed, texted and chatted on the phone-it still is scary-perhaps it is the possibilty of rejection that is the most scary? I have found the second and third dates/meet ups seem to go with a much more relaxed flow and you do get a much better feeling of someones character. I have bit of a mad/wicked sense of humour with a mouth that works faster than my brain and can quite often say something that the other person takes out of context – this can sometimes work as a good ice-breaker even though it is not intentional!
    My first on-line date was ready to move in after about 3 weeks-that scared me to death!
    My second on-line date was so shy-i prefer someone with a more vibrant character, others have been too desperate and needy from the word go, another time (about a month ago) i met someone and thought ‘phwoar’ nearly melted on the spot just at meeting and when he suggested meeting again i thought i was going to burst – but unfortunately-for me that is, we never met again.
    The experience can be like a rollercoaster, take the plunge and enjoy the ride, cos you just never know!! Above all just be yourself and go with the flow – good luck 😉

    • onlydads says:

      Thank you for such a personal and illuminating reply to this post.

      Sorry to hear about the “Phwoar” guy though. Give him a nudge – he may just be a bit shy??

      Bob x

  3. CoffeeCurls says:

    Go for it Bob! She is out there just waiting to be found – all you need to do is look 🙂

  4. Will says:

    Hi Bob

    A friend tried to get me to join on-line dating. She was enjoying meeting people that way and thought I needed to get out after my break up. However, I couldn’t write a profile that looked anything like me. I read the other profiles and was a little scared that what I was reading wasn’t really the person in the picture. More of who they would like to be.

    I don’t think I am that funny. Or that I have a particularly outgoing character. I like music, books and films, but I rarely get the chance to listen, read or watch. I sing and play guitar but I can’t see Simon Cowell signing me up any day soon. Nothing I could write would make me seem interesting but remain honest about myself. As Groucho Marks said, “I don’t want to be member of a club that would have me in it”.

    Good luck with the OnlyDating venture.

    • onlydads says:

      that is the thing Will -you have summed it up neatly.

      You can say what you do – how much harder to say who you are!

      ps – Simon Cowell. When you get a chance listen to this guy strum the guitar.It’slike Hendrix meets Page. I think

  5. Rebecca says:

    Bob. what an interesting response, I learnt a lot about you! I wonder if people were able to write more honestly about themselves, like Will, it would be easier to find a partner. The danger is when we first meet someone we tend to go a little overboard in trying to make a ‘good first impression’, this could lead to complications later on the relationship. For me, if someone knows his or her faults as well as all the good bits and can be open about them from the start that’s attractive. I think one of the great things about looking for that special person when you are older is you are looking for different things, you are looking for what makes them tick, shared core values, you also know yourself better and so can be more confident and honest about what it is you want and don’t want in a relationship. If they happen to be drop-dead gorgeous too, bingo!

    For anyone who is reading my ramble I must tell you that Bob is a good catch. I have watched him over the years deal with the most extrodinarily difficult situation. He has dealt with it with such dignity and grace and as a result he has two beautiful girls. He is very funny, he is thoughtful and kind.and of course, between you and me a handsome chap. I hope, as someone who cares for him a great deal, that there is someone special for him out there, he deserves it.

  6. Claire Hadfield says:

    Well, I’ve been a bit of a serial online dater for around 3 years now. My experiences have been….’interesting’ to say the least.
    On the plus side, the first guy I met this way was someone I had a relationship with for over a year and who is still a really great friend.I second relationship was intense and wondeful, but burnt itself out all too soon. Since then I’ve dated ‘Kebab Man’ , ‘Mr Not Quite as Single as I made out’ and ‘Oh. didn’t I tell you I’m living with my Mum’.

    The issues of profiles is a really tricky one, as Will so eloquently expressed. While I opted for honesty re age, curviness(!), and so on, I’ve since discovered to my cost then many people out there in cyberdatingworld are far more duplicitous and that, no matter how you present yourself in your profile, through messages or on the ‘phone, reality bites in the end. This is really the inescapable dilemma of online dating; we just talk to a photo, or even a disembodied voice, which allows us to build up a picture, expectations even, but often the reality is a disappointment. Not through any major fault or defect on either side, but because our expectations are unrealistic, our hopes too optimistic, perhaps?

    Do I sound cynical? Well, perhaps I am. Or at least hardened to a degree by some of my experiences. I wonder whether I’ll ever meet a ‘partner’ in the true sense of the word? Fed up of compartmentalising sections of my life; kids, work, sex, emotions and want it to all join up and run smoothly for once.

    Well, I’ve stuck with it this far and just renewed for another month, so that says something about my attitude. (hopeful or just foolhardy, I wonder?)
    It would be nice to find someone who texts just to say ‘hello’, listens when listening is needed, and is not too scared to take a leap of faith in to the future…and, despite our past experiences, all of us online daters are doing just that.
    Hardened, yet hopeful…
    Claire

    • onlydads says:

      Thanks for commenting Claire. What to say? I ask because there is one line in what you have written that really jumped out at me…

      …”I wonder whether I’ll ever meet a ‘partner’ in the true sense of the word?”

      See the thing is, I like the word “wonder”. It sounds altogether more upbeat than my midset which would replace wonder with “doubt”. And it also talks of this word “partner”. It’s what we all want I guess. But blimey! After a few years on your own it seems almost scary. Forget the almost. It IS scary. Do I (we) go on line to find a boy/girlfriend or to find a partner?

      And I’ve another question – what did people do before on-line dating?

      Oh, and another question? What do you do if you fall in love and it all goes wrong (again)? That happens to people and it must be awful?

      I seem to think about things to much…!

      #nutter

      Thanks again Clare – a most thought provoking reply to the post 🙂

      • Joanna says:

        Hello to you Bob and to your readers! I come via The Telegraph’s dating site and its articles quoting you, Bob and your interesting and refreshing site. And it is. The comments here I have been avidly reading are edifying too. Thank you all. I have no kids but I have been married for 30+ years, longer than I have been single in my life. I started dating one year after my marriage ended through the death of my partner and found that I can still fall in love. Madly. In fact it snapped me out of my grieving which at the time I did not think it was possible.Bob, most of us who accept and assume the risks of online dating know that ending with a broken heart is a real possibility.
        I do not know how reassuring this is to you, but statistically women tend to be more exposed to this risk than men probably because voyeurism is the in-built feature and the side effect of online dating which attracts many male players. In extreme cases, and there are quite a few out there, online dating becomes an addiction and a game devoid of any commitment or due to fear of commitment. There is however a choice and a preference in the settings of a good dating site, if the latter is the case, and that is specifying the nature of the desired relationship -‘ long/short fling’ or marriage , if one can commit. Not everybody is honest about this and this is where the heart-breaking bit comes into it. trust becomes an issue.
        Automatically receiving ‘your matches of the day’ from the dating agency is not particularly helpful either when one is in the process of establishing a relationship with somebody just found as ‘suitable material’ on the same site. It induces, tempts us all to have a glance at other ‘prospects’ while trying to engage in the other relationship, not to miss the possibility of may be finding the ‘One’, the Soul Mate. Just in case they are a ‘click away’ from us!
        Clearly, there is a lot of choice out there but also competition, not found in real life dating. That is the one big advantage to online dating that hooks us to renew our membership each month.
        However giving our Time and our Attention to the identified potential partner – the key ingredients in developing a meaningful relationship, mentioned by E. Fromm in his The Art of Loving, is missing altogether, sadly, due to the many temptations that exist. A vicious circle.
        This is the biggest disadvantage I found with online dating having just scrapped my membership after one and a half years with the Telegraph dating site.
        ‘Having faith in the future’ I think is more dependent on luck, as in lottery as far as online dating experience is concerned.

  7. Claire Hadfield says:

    Well sometimes I wonder, other times I doubt and occasionally I despair, but mostly I have faith in the future. If we never take chances we never gain anything. Yes, it’s a risky business and sometimes (often) we get hurt, but surely we always have to try again? I’m not convinced that online dating is the best way though; meeting someone by accident or design in the real world has to be preferable for all kinds of reasons, but maybe for you it could be a good way to ‘test the water’ as it were. Just remember not to jump in the deep end without your water wings!

  8. onlydads says:

    …I know. All you say is spot on!

    ps sorry for the Clare/Claire spellings – ooops!

  9. Claire Hadfield says:

    that’s OK Boob

    • onlydads says:

      Thank you for making me laugh out loud (and splurt some wine)

      That will result in another heap of unwanted traffic to my blog from men who really should be joining our dating site!

  10. Claire Hadfield says:

    Ah, wine splurting- a surefire way to reel them in.
    Having just come back from a sociable night out with friends, I am favouring real people to cyber versions at the moment. The only mail in my online dating inbox this week has been a stream of ‘ice-breakers’ which I always automatically delete. I don’t think you can find love with the scatter gun approach; it’s demeaning to both sides. Receiving an ice-breaker, to me, just means that the guy has not read my profile and is simply casting his net upon the waters in the vain hope of catching someone deluded enough to fall for the inevitable cheesy line. (Rod and line?)

    Though some guys do seem to have got wise to this and the latest technique is to send ice-breakers that could, to the feeble-minded, read like genuine messages along the lines of ‘Wow! What a great profile! Would you be interested in chatting sometime?’ which at least show slightly more ambition and low cunning than the 2.30 am ‘how r u hope your havin a gud nite wanna chat?’ grammatical/syntactical nightmare that seesm to turn up regularly on a Saturday morning.Hey ho. Enough of my musings.To sleep, perchance to dream….God that sounds pretentious! Just sleep then.

    • onlydads says:

      Please don’t knock wine-splurting!

      It’s only if it comes out of your nose too that things can be a tad embarrising 😉

      #perchancetodream

  11. Cripey!!! This on-line dating thing all seems so daunting. Well at least to someone like me. Maybe (as in my case), lengthy marriages do that to a person, who knows? Come to think of it, the idea of dating in real life scares me quite a bit too.
    I think you have been quite a good example to us, in writing down some of the qualities that you look for in a woman, Bob. And they are nice things to say. Even the mucking out of horses (perish the thought, no disrespect to horse lovers) is worth the mention. I guess on on-line dating sites people don’t state what they don’t like, so much?
    I have to admit, the closest I have got to on-line dating is to look at the pictures, get nervous and run a virtual reality mile :\ Plus they want us to pay money to talk to someone??? Somehow that doesn’t seem right, free to join, pay to talk.
    And yes, the thought of getting hurt again if it didn’t work out, is something that goes through my mind too, amongst other things. But to do nothing for fear of that, means standing still, alone. Perhaps that’s the trick, to accept that it mightn’t last, before entering into a new relationship, not to cast doubts right at the start, but just know that if you are fine on your own now, then ‘on your own’ if it doesn’t work out is an okay thing? Kind of take the pressure off yourself a bit. Does that make sense?
    Most people say that love just happens when you least expect it, and where you least expect to find it. I know one thing, it’ll have a hard job finding me. I’d absolutely love to love and be loved, but I get *very* embarrassed blowing my own trumpet (namely cos my trumpet is about the size of a gym teacher’s whistle, with a broken pea in it) and how do you get around that one?

    I must admit though, after 4 years on my own and no dating or chatting ups, your blog here has got me thinking about what qualities I’d look for and what qualities I can offer. People used to say I haven’t got an evil bone in my body and they loved that I was always so cheerful and joked around stupidly and they’d laugh. My ex hated that in me, so I’m kinda scared to go OTT now I am a grown up. Mind you, I was happier being stupid 😉

    Brilliant blog post Bob. Never give up x

    • onlydads says:

      Evie – thank you for your input…

      …I think you will find when you re-read the last couple of paragraphs you wrote, you have the makings of a wonderful profile. I am sure the trick is to be honest and say who you are. Isn’t it?

      I’m not sure about “brilliant post” though. In truth,it’s the comments (like yours) that make my ramblings readable!

      Bob x

      • You’re welcome, Bob. Thank you and yes it *is* a brilliant post… in my mind anyway. Because up there ^^^^^^^^^^^^^, you’re saying a lot of things that lots of us think, when we spend time enough on our own in single-land.
        And that’s a good thing. Great to move forward with some nice, fun, interesting ideas of where we’re heading. (And what we want to avoid).

        Oh gosh! Yes, definitely yes, honestly portraying who we really are is key. The laws of attraction don’t just rely on one photo and a very polished character reference. Learning about someone is a gradual process.
        My comfort zone would be getting to know someone as a friend/date first, have fun doing stuff together, exploring shared and individual interests and how each other view relationship life and etc.,
        Oh plop! I sound like I suffer from date-fright :\ But that’s okay as I’m now a stupid harmelss chicken who people laugh at/with, (by my own definition) 😀
        It’d be lovely if we could say to someone “I quite like you” and they said , “sorry, feeling not that mutual”, then we say, “fair enough”, then they say “are we still on for that [insert an acceptable past time here] next week”? Both blush and stay friends. Wouldn’t it make it all so much easier? *Evie is actually shaking her head at what she just said there*

        I like your list, Bob. She sounds gorgeous so far! Do they do them in male?

        PS I hope I haven’t beggered up your ramblings with this comment and they still stay readable x

  12. Lakes Mum says:

    not dipped toes in water again yet! husband walked out 2 years ago and divorce came through in May – should I at least have a look?

  13. notSupermum says:

    Ooh, so are you going to have a go at the online thingy then? I’ve tried it a few times but have never had the nerve to actually meet anyone in real life. Too chicken, me.

    I have an idea though – I think I can tick everything on your list, so why don’t we just get together and cut out the middleman? I’ll have to send you my checklist first of course, just to see if you fit the bill for me 🙂

  14. Yeah… its difficult to finding love from deepest heart..
    All we do is keep try!

  15. Ruth says:

    Dating, online or otherwise, is scary because it means we have to examine ourselves.
    We are fearful in case someone doesn’t like us and more fearful that they will.
    If we are rejected we can roll out the “if I wasn’t right for them, they aren’t right for me” comfort lines, yet if our advances are accepted then we have the very difficult task of ensuring that we listen to our deepest fears and then are brave enough to tell them not to be so silly and forge ahead with all heart.
    If we can’t open our own hearts to the possibility of love how can we expect anyone else to fill it for us?

    • onlydads says:

      touch of the “nail on the head” about your comment Ruth.

      I guess the majority looking to date again will have “baggage” – bluntly put, as memories and feelings of a failed previous relationship??

      Both new dating parties will need (an again this is my guess) to support each other and have time for each other if this stuff is to be put to bed once and for all.

      Thanks for commenting Ruth – as always, it leaves one thinking 🙂

      • Ruth says:

        Oh well Bob, you know I’ve been dumped any number of times, it always sucks but it doesn’t have to drag you down.

  16. Jo 2 Stars and a Swirl says:

    I am another one who has dabbled before with the online dating, even made myself go out on a date a year ago. I think it was to prove to myself I wasn’t too chicken to do it.
    It was a perfectly nice evening but that was it, no fireworks or wow. And the thing of rme is now I won’t settle for nice, o.k, or alright. I will only give up my rather happy single life for amazing, wow, extraordinary or David Beckham (the no talking version obviously, just sit there David in your pants, there’s a good man) *ahem* what sorry…where was I?
    Oh yes, I like being single most of the time now, but It would be a lie to say I didn’t sometimes drift off in a little fantasy world where I had a man who was amazing and loved me and blah blah…but for me it is a fantasy, never going to happen so I accept this life.
    I just don’t think for me Internet dating will ever work as I am totally unphotogenic, not that great IRL but the camera does nothing to add to that, when filling out the forms my life looks bland and dull. Being a single parent who had their child with them 100% of the time also means no time for dating.
    So..maybe in 15 years time I will take the plunge, or David will be bored of Victoria by then 🙂

  17. onlydads says:

    I say “forget DB in his pants” – just find a man with the same values!

    And if he looks like DB in his pants than you’ve hit the jackpot

    Bob X

  18. Me. Wings optional. says:

    Hahaha! I just came back to this via facebook and found my second comment up there ^ ^
    It starts out okay(ish) then….. what was that whole scenario I was doing??? Is that divorce stress? Send help!
    :\
    I hate reading some of the stuff I write.

  19. Public educated stocking wearing Tory says:

    As the girl referred to in the article (30 years ago!) and someone who meet her husband on line I can only recommend giving it a go! It certainly worked for us. Ps Bob and I still speak after 30 years!

  20. onlydads says:

    How lovely to hear from you! #luckyhusband is one reply- but another is to say – thank you for making my teens such a happy time. You were (and still are) one hell of a catch! Bob x

  21. Andrew Maw says:

    I don’t think anyone necessarily has a type. It ses to me we just don’t have that much control of emotions and hormones. We find people attractive physically who are otherwise entirely unsuitable.

    It’s my experience that mixed faith relationships, even when neither party is religious or one is atheist, are fraught with pitfalls and are a very bad idea.

    If I ever dabble in another relationship, doubtful, I hope I will keep my wits about me and not be fooled by physical attraction and go for someone who will first and foremost be a friend.

  22. onlydads says:

    Interesting comments – certainly the friendship thing is key! Good luck Andrew

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