The Vine: August 6, 2014
I could use some honest feedback from you and the Nation regarding online dating. Lots of my friends have encouraged me to try it, but none have any firsthand experience to talk about how to do it well…
…where I have a real chance to have some fun, stay safe, and maybe even meet someone. Most of these friends are married and never dated online, but they all swear they "know someone" who [insert online romance story here].
I am a 35-year-old woman, divorced four years, two children. I have dated some the traditional way with limited success. No real relationships since the divorce, and lots of dry spells. That's mostly my own doing: busy with kids and work, introverted, enjoying life on my own terms, not into bars, picky for a variety of reasons (emotional, keeping my dating life away from my kids, holding out for someone I really like).
Lately, I have found myself curious to finally try online dating. I researched some of the big name sites and I read some of your past columns advising a "high churn rate" and such, which was pretty helpful. But I was talking about this with a friend at work, who works in internet security and is married to a woman he met online several years ago. He said that I should use a fake name, a dummy email address, not mention my kids in my profile, understate my income, and delay meeting people in person.
Is that what people (women) (especially with kids) actually do? Just practically speaking, how do you pull that off? If I meet someone I like, at what point do I come clean without looking like a paranoid lunatic or a pathological liar? I don't feel sorry for wanting to keep creeps away from my children, but what's the polite way to say, "Actually my name is not Sally, it's Monica…and I have kids, surprise!"
If that's not what people do, then what should I do? I may be too "in my head" about it, but I just wanted to get some feedback from people who have actually been out there.
Also, any particular sites to stay away from?
Thanks for any help you can give me,
I Just Want To Date, Not Join The CIA
Dear Agent Dater,
I know your work friend is just trying to help, but consider the source here. If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Your friend works in internet security, and presumably has seen the worst people are capable of in the virtual world. I work at Tomato Nation, and I've seen the best people are capable of; the nine hundred thousand-plus dollars y'all have raised for Donors Choose over the last decade suggests to me that there's another way to look at things.
That, and the husband I found on OKCupid. So, neither of us is wrong! Um, generally. Specifically to this case, Work Friend's advice is terrible. Sorry, Work Friend.
There is in fact no way to announce on a third date — or whenever Work Friend suggests you finally admit that you've lied about everything the dating site's algorithm is using to match you to people — that everything you've told the guy about yourself is a lie. I mean, there is, but not if you want to see him again, unless he's turned on by this dead-drop foolishness, in which case he can find a LARP spy game and work it out. …That actually sounds fun; you know what I'm saying. If you won't tell anyone ANYTHING for real about yourself and your life, what are you even doing trying to date? Isn't the point to find a partner who loves you? Y…ou. And all the attendant challenges, and everyone has them, kids or no kids. I married an actor. He married a writer! What are we, nuts?
I am all for safety and being sensible, but there are no guarantees, and building an emotional panic room isn't going to change that. Using a dedicated email address just for your online-dating profiles (most people have more than one; I did) is a good idea, but unless you have a very unusual first name that could attract unwanted off-sides Googling, I don't see the point of changing it.
Not mentioning your kids in your profile is not acceptable. Yes, men who don't want stepfam will skip over your profile; you shouldn't date them anyway (note: maybe you're in a more strictly I Have Needs place with all of this, and just want to get a leg over. Also fine, and my advice is not really different). I had "don't want my own, will consider stepkids" checked on mine, and the one guy who lied about it didn't get a second date. He'd also lied about whether his divorce was final, and his picture was…not representative, and and and, but the larger point was his confusing "presenting your best self" with "making up shit people want to hear." Not the same; don't do the second thing.
The income thing is just weird. I don't remember having to answer that if I didn't want to, and I didn't, so I…didn't. Men who make a point of listing the top tier are, in my experience, to be avoided.
And delaying meeting people in person…again, what are you doing here if you're not going to take it to meatspace pronto? Delay meeting people at your home? Sure. Delay meeting them with the kids in tow at Bounce U? Sure. But you need to get into the same physical space as your various prospects as soon as you can manage it — and you may have a more challenging time with that schedule-wise than the child-free, but: Catfish, first of all, and more importantly, if you have no spark, that's that, next. Don't waste too much time on email where everyone has plenty of time to craft their best jokes. See if there's anything there and if not, step lively.
Basic safety is another issue, and you can take steps to ensure that that don't reach the level of an FBI clearance: don't meet at or near your home, or get specific about where it is; don't give out sensitive information online, and while mentioning your kids' existence is a necessity, anything else about them (names, pictures, etc.) is off-limits for a while; arrange with friends to call you at a set time just in case-ies.
But acting like you're on The Americans? No. The fact is, you have to do it for a little while to see how you should do it, but I'd love readers with kids and experience with the online scene to chime in.
Tags: boys (and girls) Donors Choose Kookoo Crazypantses