Looking for love in 2014? Click here.

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“He liked your photo!”

“He Emailed You!”

“People are finding more love online!”

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It’s been almost three years since I’ve been a member of Match.com and eHarmony.  I typed a lovely ‘thank you’ note in my Match.com online exit survey, explaining how grateful I was to Match for enabling me to meet a wonderful man and fall in love.  I terminated my membership with exclamation points and a smiley face emoticon – I was a satisfied customer.

Which is why I was surprised to continue receiving my Daily Matches, Wink Alerts and multiple emails informing me about men interested in my profile (“He Chose You!”).  When it comes to online dating, Match’s approach is to give you the sea and you do the fishing.  That need for a well-stocked ocean explains why they continue to keep my profile up on the site, though I’m not a member.

At certain times of the year the online dating services ramp up their campaign (“A fresh year, means a fresh start”).  I’m anticipating inbox overflow as Valentine’s Day approaches.

The emails tease with specific data, such as:  the time (“Someone emailed you at 7:39 a.m. on 12/29”), numbers  (“Smile!  You have 9 Photo Likes This Week”), locations (“Someone in Staten Island just made you his Favorite!”), and names (“Babbalooee7  winked at you”).

Not only has Match kept my inactive profile on their site, but they began taunting me with emails that questioned my happiness: “Unsure if you’ve met ‘the one'”?  eHarmonyAdvice sends me newsy emails with articles such as “6 Signs You Might be Sabotaging Your Love Life.” Clearly, these companies are vying for repeat customers, even if they have to break hearts and ruin relationships.  “Come back for $14.95 a month,” a few months later eHarmony was down to $9.95.  Match offered 50% discounts and a great deal of “less than $5 a week.” Who says you can’t put a price on love?

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If you’ve ever registered with one online dating service, you’re likely to hear from others. Forever. I’ve never so much as clicked on any of the following sites, yet receive unsolicited emails from Christian Singles and NYEasy Dates (which really needs to change its name), BlackPeopleMeetDating (I’m not black) and SeniorPeopleMeetDating (I’m not a Senior).

Looking through old emails, I saw a note to my friend, Iyna:  “Had a pre-date phone call Monday night, photos looked good, but was a long-talker (I almost emailed you for a rescue call), he misquoted TV shows and when describing a woman in a story he said: ‘She was beautiful…looked like a hooker.’  NEXT!  Then another guy who seemed promising – cute picture, widowed, Brooklynite, 48, born in Italy, in US for 8 years – starts out with good emails…then started quoting scripture. Oy, don’t give me The Corinthians and bad Seinfeld banter!”

For all the zany ones, there were plenty of nice guys, too.  I thoroughly enjoyed my dating days – whether it was dishing with my girlfriends the next day over the bad dates, or the thrilling hint of romance after a good date.  What else can make you feel like you’re 20, when you’re 50?  Why go through the hassle of bad dates?  Because eventually you get to the good ones.  Isn’t happiness worth the effort?  I’ve had a ‘grin and glow’ thing going on ever since I met Billy. As my friend Claudia commented one night, “I don’t think I ever saw you not smiling all evening.”

For those of you getting ready to dive in, or perhaps just dip your toe in the water, a few suggestions:

  • skip the free sites and join one of the major online dating services (Match, eHarmony, JDate, etc.)
  • first look around and get acquainted with the site before reaching out
  • when someone contacts you, start with emails to get a sense of their personality
  • practice safe cyber dating, use an email address that doesn’t have your name in it
  • have a phone conversation before you meet
  • for a first date, make it just for coffee and meet in a public place
  • tell a friend when and where you’re going
  • tune out all the naysayers complaining it’s impossible to meet someone (stats prove them wrong)
  • be a good date: look your best, have a few things in mind to talk about, smile, ask questions and be a good listener
  • if you’re going out for drinks, stay sober
  • if your date is widowed, it’s probably a comfortable subject to broach; if not, be brief – initially – when telling your story
  • don’t give your last name, home address or any personal information to any dates until  you feel comfortable
  • trust your intuition
  • have fun and enjoy the experience

Happy fishing!

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