Yes, I married my eHarmony guy.
And since then, many of my single girlfriends have asked me if I have any suggestions or advice about online dating? Have you met me? You bet I do! That’s the Oprah nature in me. Ha.
DISCLAIMER: Make Sure You’re Truly READY for Marriage – First and foremost make sure you’re ready for marriage and that you aren’t on a rebound or just bored etc. I suggest that ALL women read “Lady in Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting for Mr. Right”. Avoid Mr. Wrong and Mr. Right Now at all costs! You will end up far worse than you are right now if you let either of those guys have your heart, time or body. Recreational dating is damaging.
Carefully Select Your Dating Website – The only dating website that I endorse is Eharmony. The rest reminded me of an online version of a singles bar. There may be a great catch in there somewhere but there’s often a lot of minnow catches to narrow down the search for a great healthy fish. Sadly, the low cost sites and Christian sites have some of the worst con artists sign up. DISCLAIMER: since I originally wrote this I have met a couple that married from Match.com. So maybe – just maybe – it has gotten better since I tried it years ago.
Buy a Large Timeframe – though there is an initial expense, buy 3 or 6 months of time so that you will feel inclined to take your time and learn the system. Do not rush the process or limit it to one month or a “free chat weekend”. You’ll feel discouraged when it takes more time. It can take weeks to really get the process going and to learn how to use it well.
Be Very Selective about the Guys – I looked at online dating like I do everything else. It’s a jury “selection”. Meaning, my goal was to strike out guys. Yes. Strike, strike, strike. One strike you’re out (though some of my more tolerant friends were successful with allowing for 2 or 3 strikes). When you are first meeting someone they are on their best behavior & there’s no baggage or drama or difficulties yet. At the first sign of behavior or lines of questioning that violate your boundaries or gives you an uneasy feeling (ex. questions about your sex drive, how much money you make, etc) strike that person from the pool. The goal is not the quantity of men you are matched with but the quality of those men. You live in a time when a very high percentage of men do not know or were not taught the true value of a woman or how to treat her besides buying dinner or gifts. Strike that man quickly or you may regret it later. I had one friend who felt guilty about closing matches. It’s a dating website meant for closing matches. Don’t feel guilty. It’s part of the process. And, don’t get your feelings hurt if you get closed. Trust that God will shut the doors that need to be shut. Don’t take it personally. Every closed match I encountered helped narrow the path toward me marrying my guy. I thank God for those closed matches!
Have a Vision of the Man You Want to Marry – aka “The List”. Over the years I had made several specific statements about my future husband and I had a list of things I wanted written down on a notepad. For example, he cooks (because I cant), enjoys working out (I need accountability), is sentimental, makes more money than me (it prevents insecurity), has mocha latte skin and a head full of dark hair, loves the Lord, has the fruit of the spirit evident in his life, prays, etc. I basically made a written prayer of the desires of my heart for my future husband. Or, God put those desires in me to be used like a roadmap to direct me to John. I’ll take it either way. So, what’s your vision and desire? There should be certain things you are open to (maybe hair color or height) and certain things you are not (whether they smoke, their religious preference, career path). Make that list and stick to it. Don’t settle or compromise your desires or you are cheating yourself. Remember, use your strikes. You’re paying for that privilege.
Set a Specific Profile – I really like how Eharmony allows you to set your profile for yourself and for your matches. I highly suggest you spend the time needed (a day off) to set up your complete profile and take the color code test. I even took the time to select the 3 multiple choice or short answer questions and sent those same 3 to every potential match for comparison. Be specific on who you allow yourself to be matched with and do the scale ratings 1 to 10. For example, I refused to date a smoker. (No stones if you smoke, but I used to be a nicotine junky and the last thing I needed was temptation in that area or to pick up bad habits of a partner. I wanted my husband to be stronger than me and to encourage me to be better). So, when it asked if they could smoke even “on occasion” I put no and set it so that it would not even match me to someone who chose that as their preference. It only matched me to “never smokes” people. It does the same thing for distance (ex. I put U.S. only to avoid foreign scams), and age (my match HAD to be 40 & up. I don’t think a guy becomes a real man until he has graying heir and crows feet. They age fine like wine. Ha.)
Create an Investigative Profile – keep a notebook and separate profile on a tablet where you collect data on each person you are emailing or texting or talking to by phone. This is going to fill in the gaps about the information not listed on their online profile. For example, my guy didn’t have his exact date of birth listed online but later he mentioned his month and day of birth. In another conversation he gave me his age. Then I had a reference of identification in case of any problems or to verify that information to be certain this guy online truly was who he said he was. Once you know the city they live in, where the work, their DOB, age, and have a photo of them, you can check out many things about them you may want to know before you meet them in person. Yes, I had researched my guy forward and backward before our first meeting. A fact I didn’t reveal to him until much later. Or maybe it was when I was answering questions about his life that he had never told me lol. (ex. How long has he been divorced? I actually had a friend who felt strange about one man’s marital status so we checked out the public records in the county he lived in and he was still married. He was filed for divorce & going through it but was still legally married saying he was divorced. It’s not good to start a relationship built on white lies either so strike strike strike). Use free public record tools to check out this guy. Facebook, myspace, google. One guy who messaged me had what seemed to be every single girl in Dallas on his myspace. Strike.
The First Meeting – only meet in a public place, take your own vehicle, park near his vehicle & write his license plate number down (or get him to give you his vehicle description and the first 3 digits of his plate #). Make sure you have an accountability person that knows where you are meeting and give them the make, model & license plate # of his vehicle. They should check in with you in an hour or so. Text them when you arrive. Think safety safety safety. Do NOT believe that anyone is who they say they are. Hopefully they are but this is not the place to be naïve.
Avoid alcohol. Remember, you are driving yourself and you don’t want to make weakened choices because you feel all relaxed and carefree. If you plan to have a drink anyway, have a friend drop you off and pick you up. Do NOT leave the public place with him. Have a 2 drink max. Don’t drink to excess. And never let a man bring you a drink (yes it could be drugged). If you order a drink, make sure the waiter brings it to you and that it was never in your dates hands at any time. Or better yet, don’t drink on your testing date.
As much as a man may try to wine and dine you, opt for a lunch date in public that’s casual. Don’t be swept off your feet. Any man can pull off a few good dates. If he’s worthy of future dates or marriage, you’ll have plenty of time for wining and dining later.
You should have a gut feeling after the first meeting if this guy is worth a second date. If you aren’t feeling it – strike him. Trust your gut and don’t make it a routine of dragging things out or leading a guy on.
Also, do NOT swap body fluid of any kind including kisses at this stage. Assume every person has something contagious until you know more. This will also help eliminate Mr Loosey Goosey who is just hoping to score some PDA.
And, don’t forget to strike strike strike!
Hope that helps. Hugs!