Do you ever feel like it’s time to shake things up? I did. It was spring of 2012 and I had gotten my single-mom footing under me, more or less. It was time to add a little sparkle to my social life; time to try the dating scene. Even a few of my kids were encouraging me to “get out there and meet some guys.” I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get married again, and was actually fine with staying single. However, I wanted to experience new people and expand my horizons. I gave myself a good pep talk, had some discussions with God, wrote down some solid do’s and don’ts, and determined more than anything to get out there and have fun. Now I can sit back and wait for the offers to roll in.
Only, nobody was asking. I waited with all the patience of a toddler and determined right away that something had to change. I needed a different approach. All this waiting around was for the birds. All of my energy had been spent mentally preparing for the dating world again; making sure I was braced. I had failed to consider the possibility of fellas not showing up for my party! Talk about bummed!
Well…where do other women go to get asked out? I was clueless. Work? I cleaned houses for a living, so my co-workers were mainly brooms and mops. Church? I knew a total of three bachelors at church. They were sweet and all, but I knew they weren’t for me. Bars? That wasn’t my style. Just no.
How timely then, when I spotted an ad on the sidebar of Facebook for a Christian online dating site. That sounded intriguing. I wondered if it would make me look desperate if I tried meeting men online. It sounded like great fun, and just the sort of adventure I was looking for. If I did it, I would need to keep it on the low-down just in case it didn’t work, or worse – if it DID sound desperate!
My qualms were no match for my curiosity so I signed up.
My first task as an online dater was to choose a screen name. The dating service suggested something catchy, since that would be everyone’s first impression of me. I figured I should come up with something that had a sexy ring to it. I needed all the help I could get, you understand. I finally landed on cafelattemocha. Now tell me if that ain’t sexy? What’s better than coffee, steaming hot, with a little sugah, and a silky splash of International Deeeeliggghhtt? (I don’t mind telling you I didn’t feel the least bit sexy, but “fake it till ya make it” was my mantra).
The next order of business was establishing my profile which included some basic questions, a written bio, and the option for six pictures I could use to ensnare unsuspecting creatures put my best filtered face forward. I had mixed feelings about this. I am so photogenically challenged that my bad side shows up even when I’m not in the picture. Since men are visual creatures, I wanted to use my best click-bait to get them to my profile page. I also wanted to be realistic. I was a single mom with eight kids still at home. I figured I would probably have to get about six of them grown before anyone would even consider going out with me. I came with attachments and needed to be honest about that on the front end. One way to do that was to make sure my kids were included in my pictures.
If a guy saw my pictures and wasn’t scared away by my tribe, he could then delve into my bio and start finding out more about the real me. If he was still interested at that point (he was either brave or nuts) he could send me a little winky face or an email message. I would check out his profile and either respond in positive or negative fashion, or ignore him if he seemed creepy. I could also take on the initiator role and send out my own stack of winkies and messages, but that didn’t suit me very well.
Another way to get to know folks was through the chat rooms. That was probably where I had the most fun. I “met” all sorts of interesting and wonderful people, both men and women. I made lots of cyber friends, some of whom I am still friends with to this day. Still, you can’t truly get to know someone online, so if I was going to get serious about dating, I had to meet my interests in person.
Weren’t you scared? Isn’t that dangerous? Yes, there are always risks involved, even if you’re dating the guy next door! I tried to be careful, and I set up as many safeguards as I could. Even though I was using a Christian dating site, there were perverts and predators aplenty. I had no way of knowing if a guy was really who he said he was, but isn’t that true even in conventional dating? I set my boundaries, prayed a lot, and jumped in with both feet.
Overall I had a very positive experience with online dating. I enjoyed the email exchanges, phone calls, and Skype dates. I had a blast with the connections that ended up as face-to-face dates as well. I walked away with some funny stories which I hope to share with you next week. I also walked away with a husband. I would say that’s one for the win! I learned a few lessons the hard way, had a ton of fun, and enjoyed some fine meals at Cracker Barrel.
What I mostly learned is that I needed God’s help. During that season of my life I often prayed: “God, I need a lot of discernment. I hope to be married again someday, but only if it’s what you want. I’m content being single. If someone comes along that’s right for me, they have to be just as right for my kids. Obviously I have no ability to choose what’s best for all of us, so can you do that for me? Just help me not to be unwise, and alert me if I’m stepping in harm’s way.”
And God, always faithful, did that and so much more.
What questions do you have about online dating or single-parent life? Leave me a note on the comments page. I love telling stories, and I would love to hear yours…about anything!