What is success in online dating?

It’s been a long time between blogs. But there’s a reason – I’ve just acquired a new knee (pictured!)  A lengthy, painful process but I am finally back on deck and just a little bit wobbly.

In the meantime it was fun to be featured in Channel 7TWO’s new series, Time of My Life – celebrating the lives of extraordinary Australians. They even showed me on my first day at work in the office of Forum magazine, perched happily on the knee of my boss, Clyde Packer. That certainly was a different era!

I’ve also been blogging on RSVP about what is success in online dating.

People often complain that they keep seeing the same tired old faces on online dating websites.  Many assume that the online dating process doesn’t work because some people seem to be there forever… or disappear only to come back a few months or years later.

Of course there are people who struggle to do well in online dating – although the fact that they remain active online suggests something is working for them. But there are a plenty of others who meet each other online, go off the site for a while and then reappear.

That doesn’t mean online dating isn’t successful but simply that relationships aren’t easy. It takes time to see whether you can live with her toy poodle, or whether still have something to talk about when that heady knee-trembling romance is over and you face each other bleary-eyed over the breakfast table. And the older you get, the harder it is to maintain that magical first connection. Your beloved grandchildren might prove irritating little sprogs for him. And very few women see their new mate’s snoring as some exotic mating call. It’s a prickly business bringing together people used to living on their own.

Romances come unstuck, people turn up again on internet dating sites. The online dating process works well – it’s the settling down that’s hard. But I’m intrigued how many of my dating clients report staying friends with people they’ve met through RSVP. Many of my more mature clients find they’ve moved on from the drama and angst which accompanied failed relationships in their past to realizing they can still enjoy an ex-lover’s company.  And it needn’t even be someone with whom they’ve been intimately involved.  People do meet possible suitors who aren’t quite right for them but tick enough boxes for the two to want to keep in touch and share activities together. I know women who’ve spent years in long marriages and never had any single male friends who now delight in having male companions happy to come along to a trivia night, or go to the movies or the theatre.

Online dating isn’t just about searching for soulmates. It’s about expanding your social circle, making new friends, getting to know new, interesting people, hearing other people’s stories, relaxing and  have fun in the company of the opposite sex.  But that won’t happen if you approach every first date as make-or-break.  It’s far better to worry a little less about the destination, the search for The One, and focus more on enjoying the journey – the entertaining business of just getting to know people, enjoying what they have to offer rather than fixating on flaws, and honing your own dating skills.

People who’ve been out of the dating game for a long time are often very rusty and need wooing practice. Online dating is the perfect WD40 – just the thing for getting back into gear, ready to embrace romance when it happens.

8 Responses to What is success in online dating?

  1. Stephen Allwright October 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Don’t want to be a pedant, but you might be wobbly because the X-ray of your knee is upside down.

    • Bettina October 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      That’s hilarious, Stephen. You are right. I did have the x-ray upside down. No wonder I was having even more trouble walking than usual. Fixed it now. Thanks, Tina

  2. John Narayan November 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Bettina, I suspect you would be a welcome addition to the a voice for men team.

    Fell free to contact Paul Elam on Skype or me on my Facebook page.

    John Narayan

  3. John November 7, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi Bettina
    After the somewhat rude and confronting atmosphere of online dating (male aged 64) at times, I joined a social club, which was much better for the reasons you have given. Perhaps a combination of both for the dedicated might be more prudent.

  4. Lesley November 24, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Hi Bettina,

    I met a man through a dating site over 6 years ago. I fell in love with him over a period of time and have maintained a healthy sexual relationship – although he remains aloof and doesn’t want a ‘relationship’ yet still appears to enjoy a physical ‘relationship’ with me. He is aloof, always busy and travels a lot. He has a lot of friends both male and female. After seeing him for 1 year I questioned him about other women, as I arrived at his house one night to find he had company. He answered ‘ I am not prepared to answer at this time’! 5 years later I have waited for an answer and have become so connected to him and feel more and more love for this man as time passes. Even though he is neither willing to form a relationship with me or tell me how he feels!
    I also found a handful of condoms in his suitcase he loaned me when I travelled overseas (with my son?) which I thought was very odd he would actually show me what a schmuck he is and a card seemingly from a female who penned how she was looking forward to their adventures for many years to come!
    I seem to have been clinging onto this idea that he actually loves me like I do him – it’s absurd but I can’t imagine my life without him – he is the one thing that has anchored me in some weird abstract way and my whole life has been a struggle to keep this afloat. Does this makes sense?
    I know this is a long and arduous description however I am now faced with this decision of moving away so I can untangle myself from what seems to be a very aggressive vine that keeps weaving through my life.
    Have you come across this type of man before and how to deal with a love that is so far away yet so close and so unreal and yet so tangible and so bitter and yet so sweet.
    This is my experience of online dating – Believe me I had no idea how my life was about to change after pressing the ‘send’ button.

    • Bettina November 27, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Oh dear, what a muddle you are in! Yet you wouldn’t be writing to me if you didn’t know he is secretive for a reason – that the chances are that he has a wife, other lovers? Who knows? And you realize you are behaving in a crazy way, putting your life on hold for stolen moments with this man. It’s so much more wonderful because times with him are so rare and special. He takes you to a show and you are thrilled. Come on, woman! You deserve more than crumbs of this man’s attention. I’ve spent so many years talking to women in your situation who know they are sharing a man’s attention and most of them come eventually to feel just like you.. humiliated by the situation they are in, full of self-loathing, losing confidence. It’s a really tough position to be in and you need to move on.

      At least you are facing the fact that there’s something really wrong. Now what’s important is to work on finding a proper relationship with a man who is willing to be open and share your life. You got into this mess through online dating – it happens but these websites also contain many men who really are looking for proper relationships. I’d suggest you go back on line and find one. It won’t be easy for any man to compete with the intrigue of this strange, illicit relationship but you will have to go through the motions of meeting men and getting to know them and just hope one day you find someone who moves you in the same way. I’m happy to support you in this process, if you would like.

  5. Sue Smith August 8, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Hi Bettina,

    All the best with the new knee!

    I am in my mid 60s and have been on a well known dating site for many years with little success. I have always waited to be contacted because I think men my age would prefer good manners and I probably get one contact every couple of weeks to which I repond. But rarely do I think the men contacting me are suitable partners. The question I’d like to ask you is should I be more proactive and send out kisses to the men I find attractive?

    • Bettina August 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      Sue, Get over that old-fashioned thinking! You won’t do well in online dating if you wait to be contacted. Making an approach to a man is not seen as bad manners but rather a sign that you are willing to share the load rather than leave the man stuck in the traditional role where he took all the risks. Many men steer clear of women who behave like that because they assume you will also expect them to pay for everything and may well play traditional female games with them. Most men are totally over that type of female behaviour.

      Attractive, successful men are used to be approached by women and spend most of their time online responding to the women who contact them. There is no need for them to do any searching. Hence you are missing out on the crème of the crop by waiting to be asked. You need to do regular searches and approach desirable men to have any hope of gaining their attention. I’m happy to help you with other ideas for increasing you chances of success, if you would like. Cheers, Tina