You’ve put the past behind you, and you are looking ahead. You have stopped distrusting the opposite sex and you feel like you might be interested in dating again. If you are likely to meet a possible new partner through work or through friends, great. But if most of your time is spent with your children, and meeting someone new seems unlikely what can you do?
What are the dangers?
Of course there are dangers. Online it is easy for someone to pretend to be someone they are not. (Someone may be married, they may be violent, they may not actually be looking for a relationship but instead be setting out to prey on vulnerable individuals or children.) It’s therefore really important that you protect yourself and your children from unwanted attention by not revealing too many details, particularly those that would allow someone to find out where you live or contact you other than through the dating site (which should have a mechanism for ‘blocking’ unwanted communications).
In addition, it is very easy to get ‘carried away,’ and lulled into a sense of closeness and trust, which might be shattered once you actually meet face to face. However, if embarked on safely and cautiously, internet dating can be an effective and efficient way to find a partner. It may not be for everyone, just like internet shopping is not for everyone, but for others it can be a way to meet people that you might not meet otherwise. And the analogy with shopping is actually a good one, because online it can feel like you have an element of choice and control over who you meet, whereas offline it can feel like you are more at the mercy of chance and luck.
Things to consider when internet dating
- Have a look at the different dating sites before you choose which one to go with. Choose an established, reputable site. Free sites are more likely to attract ‘undesirables’, because it’s not always necessary to register bankcard or other details that would make someone traceable.
- ‘Free trials’ often require that you put in your bank card details so that a ‘subscription’ can start once the ‘free trial ‘ is over. Make sure you ‘cancel’ in time if you do not want to be tied into paying a subscription.
- When you write your profile, take some time over it. Be honest but upbeat. Rather than spending too much time on your past, talk about your current interests and your hopes for the future. Once your profile is up, tag people that interest you, don’t just wait for people to tag you. (Don’t put all your eggs in one basket)
- Don’t reveal anything that would allow anyone to find you or your children - such as your real name, your telephone number or clues as to where you live.
- Once people start emailing you, trust your instinct. Don’t feel you have to continue to email someone if you don’t want to.
- Interested in someone? - Don’t leave it too long before meeting up. Regardless of how well you get on online, it’s the gut reaction that you have on meeting that will tell you if you want to spend any more time with this person. It is easier to disengage from the situation if you’ve not both already invested a lot of time communicating with each other. Again, trust your instinct.
- The first ‘date’ Try a ‘coffee and a chat’ during the daytime date. This takes some of the pressure off and makes it easier to leave early. Have an excuse to leave early (just in case!) already prepared.
- Take a friend on the first meeting.
- Always let a friend know exactly where you are going and check in with them at the end of the ‘date’.
- Regard any ‘dates’ you go on as ‘practice’. Take the pressure of yourself and the person you are meeting. This may well not lead to a relationship, but if you like each other at least, you can still enjoy getting and giving attention.
- Take things slowly – Don’t sleep with anyone on the first date.
- Don’t involve the children or introduce them to a new partner or possible new partner until you are sure that your new relationship has a future. What could seem like an exciting new chapter in your life, could feel frightening, threatening or upsetting to them. For tips and thoughts on this subject read Introducing a new partner to your children.
For important advice on staying safe and personal safety see the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website.