Pointers to get you started
As Solo Moms, most of us don’t encounter single men in our day-to-day lives. Unless you work in a men’s clothing store, gym, or fire department, the chances of meeting a potential date at work is pretty slim. Most of us don’t have the sitter money to hang out at bars, bowling alleys, or golf courses, either. We are too busy with playgrounds, playdates, and Play-Doh.
Ergo the question:
How does a Solo Mom navigate the dating world?
The answer: online. This marvelous technology is proven to be an effective method of male-female convergence and has brought countless couples together.
With our crazy kid-centered schedules, the beauty of online dating is it can be done while we skillfully carry out our kid-centered lives: during Little League practice, at pediatrician appointments, in line at the grocery store, or—better yet—on a Friday night with your fellow Solo Moms over chardonnay while the kiddies watch TV.
You’re nervous, I know. You haven’t dated in years. You don’t know what to say to a man or how to engage and flirt, let alone pull yourself together for an actual date. This is where online dating is key. You can dip your toe back into the dating pool gradually. It starts with a photo, a profile, and a swipe or wink that might lead to a response and online conversation, all within the reassuring confines of the respective dating site.
Then, when you feel comfortable, you can graduate to texting or e-mail. From there, a phone call might feel appropriate—and if you are willing, a date. By this point, when you meet your suitor in person, you will already be at ease. Conversation should flow freely, and if it doesn’t, at the end of your date you can delete this person’s profile and move on to the next. (I know it sounds heartless, but it’s the 21st century, and this is how it is done. Trust me, someone will do the same to you. Prepare to check your ego at the playroom door.)
Online dating puts you in control, and until you have that first in-person date, a cellular device, pseudonym, and delete button are there to shield you. We live in a world where almost everything is done online: from finding a job to buying a car and groceries. So why not use this miracle of science to find your future mate or much-needed fling?
Statistics don’t lie: Match.com, one of the most popular dating sites, has reported an increase of at least 180% in single-parent members over the last four years—more than one-third of the Match.com membership. PlentyOfFish, another popular site, reports that 44% of women who date online are single moms.
By identifying what it is you are looking for in a match, putting together a distinctive profile, and doing your due diligence in learning to work the site, you have a good chance of finding a date who is worthy of your hiring a babysitter.
The key to your initial success lies in creating an inviting profile. Think of it in terms of nature’s most basic instincts: you want your feathers brighter than the other birds’ so you’ll stand out.
Your primary photo is your calling card—the one chance to make a first impression. Choose a shot of your pretty face that fills the screen. Not a drunken selfie, not one with your cat or your great-uncle Harold. Take the time to fix yourself up, and ask a friend (or in my case, my daughter) to take a nice shot . . . or 100 nice shots . . . until you find the perfect shot that represents you.
Your other profile photos (usually five) should show you doing something active, such as a favorite sport or hobby, and include at least one full-body shot—nothing sexy—just the real you, top to bottom. The rest is your call, just avoid photos of you boozing it up, half-naked, surrounded by men, or anything else that might give the impression that you are anything other than the wonderful woman you are.
This is where you briefly state who you are, what you are about, and what you are looking for in a date. Put your best foot forward, but don’t overshare. Most important, be yourself—because that’s the girl your date is going to meet.
(Note: In case I’m not being clear enough—don’t lie in your photos or profile. It will only end badly.)
Practice makes perfect
It may take awhile to learn how to navigate this new world. Don’t panic if you miss a few potential suitors in the process. There are oodles of men who want to meet you. Be patient, as practice makes perfect. Try on your witty banter and conversation skills by interacting with men on the site. Meanwhile, don’t go for an endless texting relationship. It’s not good online etiquette, and it’s plain old annoying for people who are busy and truly want to connect. Get to know someone a bit, make a date, and then move onward.
For the most part, online dating is safe, clean fun. Still—read, research, and remember online-dating safety tips, and then use them! In short, use your best Mommy common sense: Meet in a public place. Tell your friends where you are going, and keep a cell phone handy at all times. Do not give out your home address. Do not invite him back to your place. Do not park in a dark, abandoned alley. And remember, it’s OK to leave if someone makes you uncomfortable. You have kids at home—the perfect excuse for making a quick exit and the foremost reason to keep yourself safe.
Enjoy . . . rest . . . repeat . . .
Shopping for men is like shopping for jeans: you have to try on a lot in order to find the perfect fit. Trying on men is a lot more fun. If at first you don’t succeed, you get to try and try, again and again. This is a good thing. You deserve the attention, adulation, and—God knows—the good meal, or even just a good cup of coffee. And if you find love in the process, all the better.
Oh, and invite me to the wedding. Maybe I’ll meet a nice man at the reception!
Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 20, and William, age 16.
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.