Dating After 40 – Part 1 of 2 (Five Years Ago)

Dating in your late 40’s is an adjustment after being married for 20 years. Before this month, my last first date was with my ex over 29 years ago. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced the first date nervousness. After my separation (2012) then divorce (2013), I was scared to go out on dates. I didn’t know what to do, how to act, how to dress, or where to even meet.

In looking for love, my biggest question was “where do you meet men?” I have not been much of a bar scene person. I’ll go once in a while, but not on a regular basis. I go to coffee shops, but I’m usually on a schedule and just pop in there for tea or coffee to go. I don’t frequent the libraries, I used to hang out at bookstores, but now I buy my books online. That lead me to the online dating sites.

My experience with the online dating sites varies from how I approached it upon separation and how I approached it this year. I did take a couple years away from the sites which was a good thing. I have tried three of the top dating websites. What I am writing about is my opinion and results, I will say I know people who have used the same sites, found the love of their lives and got married. They are all good sites, you just have to know what you want and how to weed out those who are on the sites for the wrong reasons, such as to scam you or catfish you.

This particular blog topic will be two parts. Part one will be talking about online dating experience five years ago. Part two will be talking about my current experience. Both times it has been educational and has had its lemons. Remember lemons are just learning experiences. Five years ago, the lemons were flying and I was definitely learning, although sometimes not quick enough.

It was almost five years ago when I started the planning stage of leaving my ex. July 2012, on my birthday weekend, I told him I had found an apartment and would be moving September 1st. As you would expect the conversation was a tough one and I know at the time I blindsided him. If he would have been paying attention to our relationship, it may not have been such a blindside. I was not happy, had not been happy in many years. We were growing personally and professionally at different rates and not supportive of each other. I do remember his words to me during the divorce when he realized we did grow apart. He said, “I just want to be happy and you want the world.” Of course, I want the world, I fully believe that you can have it all, love, friends, spirituality, and a successful professional life. In the end, he is actually with the person he should have been with before me and is happy. I am very happy in my life.

I was not always happy like I am these days. It took a lot of work on myself to get to this point. After I separated from my ex, I was not in a good place emotionally. I was lonely, depressed, and working a lot as a distraction. I was drinking more, not like an alcoholic, but for me who only drank at special occasions, I was fixing myself something a few times a week. One night I was feeling so lonely and had a few glasses of wine that I decided to sign up on one of the dating sites.

I shouldn’t have signed up on the online dating sites at that time, but I did. I didn’t have any guidance on what to write as a profile and what to look for when communicating with so called matches. Note to all, do not sign up on a dating site when you have been drinking, when depressed, or feeling lonely. These are not good combinations and the experiences I had with the men online tell the tale. Everything I did back then was so wrong and because of it I ran into the scammers and catfish guys.

My first round of using the online dating sites was interesting. I did not know then what I know now. When I would get a message from a guy, I was shocked and then I was just easy to manipulate at that time. My self-esteem was so low in the beginning after leaving my ex. The match and I would IM through the site for a short time then I would give them my phone number and we texted then talked. None of them would video chat, which back then I did not know was a red flag. Some of them had excuses for not meeting or would indicate they would meet me then all of a sudden had to go out of town. The excuses I’ve experienced were “family member is in the hospital,” “I’m in the hospital,” “my kid is sick I need money,” “I had to go overseas for business,” or “I’m overseas and need money to finish a project to come home and see you.”

Because I was not in a good place emotionally when I did the online dating first time, I was quick to fall for these guys just by talking. Looking back, they would communicate frequently throughout the day and they would say such charming and sweet stuff that just pulled at my lonely heart. The conversations would get personal and sexual. I didn’t realize until afterwards that communication was so lacking in my marriage. I would just want to talk about anything. I was still smart enough not to talk about money or give financial information to these men. The sexual conversations were always very detailed. I also got a lot of penis pictures during that time.

These men would easily manipulate me because in the mindset I was in I was easy to manipulate. Too soon in the conversation the “I love you” came out from both of us, which fueled the manipulation. A few of them did threaten me when I refused to send money and sex pictures.

I did have my wits about me to let a couple friends and a family member know I was talking to men I met online. This way if something did happen they would be able to look at my computer history and help them find the guy. I also made sure to purchase pepper spray as protection. My friends would ask me questions and do some research to help me determine if the guy was genuine.

One of my best friends asked me if I had seen a show on MTV called “Catfish: The TV Show”, it stars Nev Schulman and Max Joseph? I said “no, why?” She said I needed to watch it and try to catch repeats. It is a show that helps those who have been talking to people online find out if they are truly who they say they are or are they catfishing. I was intrigued so I watched the show and the repeats, I became hooked on the show because I was experiencing typical catfish behaviors.

Before my friend asking me and before I watched the shows, I had no idea what catfish meant to the online dating world. It’s basically pretending to be someone you’re not. There are a lot of catfish out there and they are messing with people’s emotional state. They do it for so many reasons. Sometimes they do it specifically to get back at the person they are catfishing, other times they do it as an escape. To them being someone else makes them feel better about themselves because they do not like themselves. Sometimes you get people who really don’t care and it’s a game to them. They enjoy messing with people. I know that “Catfish: The TV Show” can only catch so many of these catfishing people, I wish after my experiences and watching the show that more could be caught. However, if everyone who is online dating watched the show they would learn what to look for as red flags and become diligent about getting answers, that could start eliminating some of these profiles.

Once I learned more from watching Catfish: The TV Show, I was able to confront some the catfishes. I probably didn’t shut them down like Nev and Max do on the show, but they definitely got the picture that I had caught on. In researching I found that one of the men I was talking to was using a Canadian actor’s photos, I researched until I found out the agency representing that actor and sent them an email with the information and let the online dating site know what I had found. Then I let the catfish know what I had done. Needless to say, he was not happy with me. I had another one who I kept asking for picture of him with a current newspaper, he photoshopped it in and I caught that, it was the way he photoshopped it in that made it obvious. I asked another one to video chat so I could see him or I was not going to talk to him anymore and block him. He did video chat and he was actually a 20 something from Nigeria, he was looking to scam someone into marrying him so he could come to the states. No thank you. I let the online dating site know about that one too.

Learning these tricks back then when I was on two different sites, really helped me recognize good vs bad (and sometimes evil), but most importantly I realized I was not ready for online dating. I needed to accept myself before I could even think about adding a man to my life. I took a break from the sites and started working on me.

It took me several years to work on me. I saw a counselor for a short time and learned a lot about myself and what I needed to do to be happy. During that time, I moved to another state and learned that I can make it on my own. My self-esteem improved and my confidence increased. I finally felt comfortable being by myself and enjoying that time. I found that I am smarter than others treated me and I like being social. I rediscovered my love of working with my hands (painting pottery, building things, and making candy). I began to love myself. I am happy today with my life and my journey.

I am still working on me even today, I keep evolving every day with both personal and professional growth. Emotionally, I am ready to dip my toe into the dating pool again. This time I am trying a different online dating site instead of the two I had used in the past. I wanted a fresh start in life, so why not try a different site. It helped that I already knew friends who used this site so I felt comfortable signing up. They had a two-month deal for paying which I did that and then once that was done, I am using the site free.

To Be Continued – Next week.

Part two will talk about my latest online dating escapades and how I’m doing it differently. Please check back to see how its going!

Love in my heart

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