How to use online dating successfully

By Patricia Leavy, Ph.D.

Several years ago I saw my cousin with her new, love-of-her-life husband, whom she met online. I had never seen her so happy. If my cousin, a 40-something divorced mother of two could find such wonderful match online, perhaps I could too. Little did I know I would meet my husband a day after joining an online dating service.


Before jumping into online dating I took some time to reflect on my past relationships. I had made many mistakes, routinely picking people who could not give me what I really wanted, settling for less, and blaming them for my dissatisfaction. I had suffered the consequences of trying to substitute low-fat love for the real-deal. Once I realized my own role in creating my “bad luck” I was ready to make some new luck.


I joined an online dating site and within hours was bombarded with countless emails from prospective suitors. As I started scrolling through the profiles of these gentlemen-in-waiting I was horrified. These men obviously had not read my profile! For example, I already had a child but many of the men’s profiles indicated they never wanted children. I had also listed politics (and which party) as very important and many of these men were apolitical or wearing the wrong color on Election Day.


As I read on and on my horror only grew at my discovery: men weren’t reading my profile they were simply casting a wide net and likely emailing every woman within a certain mile radius and age range (my favorite was a 42 year old man only interested in meeting women 25-35). While it may have been easy to live in denial and just be flattered I had received an onslaught of emails, I didn’t have time for this. I had a career and a child and little time to skim through all of these inappropriate men, let alone to go out with them. I needed to take control.

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