According to Statistic Brain, there are 54 million singles in the United States, and 40 million of them have tried online dating. It also states the percentage of female online dating users are 47.6% versus male users at 52.4%. So the good news for the ladies is that there are more men online than women. The bad news is that according to Statistic Brain, the percentage of sex offenders who use online dating sites is 10%, and an estimated 20-40% of men on dating sites are actually married, even if they state otherwise.
In addition to lying about marital status, there are other little fibs that singles are telling in hopes to land their dream date. Men lie the most about their age, height or income, and women most lie about their weight, physical build, and age.
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So with all of these depressing statistics to dodge, it's no surprise if you find yourself in an online dating rut or you're just burned out by the whole thing. Still, you aren't ready to give up on the dream of finding your soulmate, so you soldier on, trudging through the masses, hoping that the next "wink" or "poke" will come from "the one."
I've experienced the world of online dating firsthand. When I was single and had just moved from Chicago back to Los Angeles, I carried on a long-distance relationship for a few months that eventually wound down. I was fine with not dating for a while, I actually even told myself that maybe I would never get married again. After all, I had walked down the aisle twice already with the wrong men, apparently I wasn't such a great picker. My aunt and cousin were both having fun meeting lots of nice guys online, so after much persuading, they talked me into trying it. I went ahead and put up a profile and photo. I didn't have a full-time job yet, which was a good thing, because weeding through all of the guys who wrote to me was a daunting task. Nine-tenths didn’t even take my requests into consideration; if they liked my photo, that's all they needed to make contact. I wondered if they even bothered to read my profile at all!
I ended up meeting four of the men who wrote to me. All were charming in their e-mails and behaved like gentlemen on our dates, but something was a bit off with each guy. The first guy was still technically married, with three kids under the age of five (I had clearly stated that I did not want to meet men with children). The second guy looked at me like I had just landed in my flying saucer from Mars when I told him about the spiritual center that I attended, and never called me again. The third, a producer, promised to put me in his movie the minute he met me (yeah, right!), and the fourth was not even the guy in the photo in his profile. He had uploaded a photo of a stylish, sexy model with kissable, full lips, blonde hair and steel blue eyes. Well, my jaw dropped when a guy with frizzy brown hair, thin lips, stone-washed jeans and a wrinkled shirt showed up at my door. Those four experiences were enough to turn me off of online dating. A month later, I met my husband through a mutual friend.
I met a sixty-year-old woman named Lena who was in contact on one of the more popular online dating sites with a much younger man, Simon, who lived in London. His photo was gorgeous, and he had a great sense of humor. He charmed, wooed, and flattered her until she believed that they were in love. He told her that he was longing to come and visit her, but he was in Nigeria working and he hurt himself there. He had a big hospital bill and could not leave the country until it was paid. Simon even had the "doctor" call Lena to explain what had happened. Simon said that if Lena would wire 2,000 dollars to Nigeria as soon as possible, he would take the next plane and go directly to her house. He wanted to build a life with her and he was so excited. She sent him the money, only to never hear from him again.
But even with sad stories like Lena's, online dating sites are still a viable option for singles. There are people finding love online, and the next one might be you! So if you're in a rut, here are five tips to get back to your feet and back in the game:
• Take a month or more off to do some work on yourself, such as attending a fun seminar, joining a spiritual center, volunteering to feed the homeless, running a marathon, cleaning out all of the clutter in your home, or taking some new classes at the gym; anything to mix things up. When your energy is high and life has some new purpose and meaning for you, it's a great time to get back out there and meet some great people.
• Think of the online dating site as a virtual cocktail party. You are there to circulate and mingle, chit-chat and find out if anyone is interesting enough to invest more time and meet in person. Don't put so much pressure on trying to find "the one." Instead, search for candidates that seem intriguing enough to want to know more.
• Assess your list of must-haves. It just might be too long, cutting out a large portion of wonderful candidates. Keep your deal breaker or must have list to 5-8 things. A person doesn't need to have every hobby in common with you, meeting someone with some different interests will broaden your horizon, and you might be pleasantly surprised that you actually enjoy water skiing or bowling.
• Don't make it a chore. Too many hours spent searching can get exhausting, especially if you aren’t getting many responses or lame candidates are contacting you with cheesy messages. You can get jaded and frustrated quickly.
• Practice the Golden Rule; treat others as you would like to be treated. If you receive a thoughtful message from someone you're not interested in, send a quick note back: "Thank you for your kind note. I don’t think we're a fit, but I appreciate you taking the time to write me. I wish you the best on your search for a soul mate." Sprinkling kind words of encouragement into cyber space creates good energy and it will come back to you ten fold.
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