When I turned 40, shit got real.
What am I doing with my life? Why am I burned out at work? Why do live with my ex husband? Why do I have so many cats? Why are dark circles taking over my face?
There was a lot of work to do.
One huge task on the ever growing “to do” list of life was to find love.
Good luck with that.
When you’re an adult, you don’t often have the luxury of meeting new people with the frequency you did when you were in college, or a regularly drunk 20-something. You go to work. You go to yoga. You go to the coffee shop. Basically you go to the same places and do the same routine and run into the same people. This is the reason why Internet dating has exploded.
Where else can you access an enormous pool of single people all looking to meet someone outside of their existing circles?
But we’re not all looking for the same thing. Worse still, is that some of us pretend we’re looking for one thing when the reality is we want something completely different. Mix that into a contrived platform where most of us are inventing rather than showcasing, and it’s a wonder anyone finds anyone for more than a one off hook up.
I found the love of my life online. It was not an accident. It was work that was done with intention and authenticity. There’s that word again. Let’s back up and look at what the majority of people are doing online, including myself before the shit got real on my 40th birthday.
Most of us post the required information and tack on a semi-decent photo to online dating web sites. We list what we do, what we like, what we don’t like, what we’d like to do. We don’t, however, discuss who we are. This is the magic behind Internet dating.
The Internet is a contrived platform. It can be used for surface meet ups—meeting up for a beer, meeting up for a movie or even meeting up for a booty call. These are all fine things if both parties only want surface level dating. However, when someone wants to find a deep, authentic connection, let’s call it true love, it can also be done using this contrived platform. But we need to be authentic, intentional, honest and open with what we put out there on the World Wide Web. We need to have the Internet work for us, and it can, if we let it.
A month before I turned 40, my good friend told me to completely redo my online profile and redo it authentically.
“Speak from the heart,” she said.
My first reaction was “Yeah, right, whatever. It’s not me; it’s everyone else on the Internet that sucks.”
A month after I turned 40, my thinking shifted. In a quiet moment alone, I looked at my profile. It was fine. The information was correct. I wasn’t telling lies. But there was nothing right with it for what I wanted. I wanted a life partner, not a beer buddy. I had barely scratched the surface, so how could I expect to find anything beyond surface level interactions? I was my problem, not the millions of men online.
In one night I transformed my profile from a “let’s hang out” message to an honest open call for a meaningful long-term relationship. I used these guidelines:
1. I was completely honest.
There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t want to date someone older than 50 if you really don’t want to date someone older than 50. If you would consider it then don’t limit yourself, no matter what your friends think or say. They are not you and they are not going to be in your next relationship.
2. I was open.
And let me be clear, I was open in that I let readers know who I was without betraying myself. I did not leave myself vulnerable, but, instead of saying I like cats, I put it out there that pet overpopulation is one of my passions and a societal issue that concerns me.
3. I dug deep.
This is so hard for many of us as we don’t want to open ourselves up to strangers. However, how is a potential love of your life going to know if you are different than the thousands of other profiles that are online? Everyone likes to travel. But how do you like to travel? I had just returned from Africa and the experience forever touched me for a number of reasons. I wrote about it.
4. I put out there what I really wanted.
That means not only did I not lie to readers, but, most importantly, I didn’t lie to myself. All the time I was putting “beer buddy” out there I got just that and wondered why I was getting frustrated. I, in plain English, said I wanted a deep, authentic, committed relationship. We’re not in high school, so we don’t need to be concerned about being “cool.” We need to be real. If the real deal is what you want, say that.
5. I didn’t fill my narrative with things I didn’t want or don’t like.
Negativity in an online profile is toxic. Stay away from it. I said I liked a career that included meaningful work. I said I wanted a partner who wanted to travel responsibly. The reader can then conclude that the opposite of those things are dislikes. When you meet in person, you can go over all of your likes/dislikes in detail. That’s what makes dating fun—getting to know each other.
6. I was passionate.
I’m not talking about sex. I am talking about life. Some questions to mull over: What are my values? What can’t I live without? What excites me when I wake up in the morning? What are my beliefs? How do I look at the world? How am I moving my life forward?
7. I did, in fact, speak from my heart.
What’s in my head is all well and good, but I was looking for the love of my life—not a business partner. Let your heart shine in your words and even in your photos. Post photos of yourself doing the things you love.
After hours working and reworking my profile, I posted it. Later that night, my future husband dropped me a note with only one line. It wasn’t much to go on. His profile was mildly amusing. His photos were terrible. But one thing was clear. He appreciated my new profile. For that reason alone, it was worth an in person meeting. Exactly a year later, on the anniversary of his writing just one line to me, we were married.
I’m not saying your story will be like mine. After all, my story is already taken! I am saying that an authentic, deep, committed relationship can be found using a cold, contrived, impersonal tool.
Do the work and please send me a wedding photo.
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Ed: B. Bemel