Fine, I'll Go Online!

The Hollywood Publicist's Guide to Successful Internet Dating

Leslie Oren

St. Martin's Griffin

Fine, I'll Go Online!
1Introduction: The Online Dating Attitude and "Spinning Up the Dating Energy"

We've all been there. Another dead-end fix-up, courtesy of your aunt/work friend/college roommate, with the most fabulous dentist/advertising exec/Web designer who, like you, just hasn't met "the one." Unfortunately, after the so-so phone call, the awkward meeting at Starbucks, the disappointment when you don't feel that instant spark, and the hour of "you never know" first-date conversation, you still haven't. And neither has he. Because you are not each other's Mr./Ms. Right--yet again.

For some reason, though, this painfully forgettable badfirst date feels different. It's the last straw. You tell yourself you simply will not go out on any more blind dates. OK, that may be a bit too drastic. After all, what if you know someone who's just worked with George Clooney on a new movie (or better yet, a humanitarian project) and thinks you two would be perfect together? Caveat: You will not go out on any more blind dates orchestrated by someone you don't know very well or like very much--especially when the only thing the fixer-upper knows about each of you is that you are both single.

So now what? In a world where everyone seems to be isolated in cars or cubicles, surgically attached to BlackBerrys, cell phones, and iPods, what are you going to do to meet more men?

The first bit of good news about the last-straw date is that it makes you want to take action. You feel determined to take control of your dating destiny. You will absolutely try something new. You will spice things up some way, somehow. Or at the very least, you'll figure out a way to get more dates so there's less riding on the fun ones that are so few and far between.

The second piece of good news is that, if it's truly bad, the last-straw date can really make you think. You start to wonder: Although you think you're "being open" and always "putting yourself out there" (in my opinion, these are the two most useless and annoying phrases ever offered in the way ofadvice to single women) like your friends, mother, and therapist are constantly telling you to do, maybe you're not doing it in the right way, or at least in a way that works for you. Maybe you need to change your approach.

If you can get to this point in your thinking, then you're ready for the key to online dating. It's all in the attitude. I call it "spinning up the dating energy," and it's an important phrase we should discuss before going any further with this book.

Spinning Up the Dating Energy

The fact is it's hard to meet people. You wouldn't think it would be since, unless you're living under a rock, everywhere you look there are people. But it is. We all know this.

First you're out of school. Then the bar scene starts to get a little old. Pretty soon all your friends seem to be getting married and starting families. Then it becomes your own personal mantra: "It's just so hard to meet the right guy." And as you stay single longer, getting more and more involved in your career, you get more comfortable being single--and lamenting the fact that it's so hard to meet people.

Perhaps you're someone who got married and had children, and now you find yourself single again--maybe for the first time in a very long time. As you work to balance the demands of life, career, home, and kids, is there anything more challenging and complicated than finding a new relationship?

True, there are chance meetings--parties, work, industry functions, community events, and standing in line at the movies. There are also blind dates, sometimes even really good ones. I've had some fantastic blind dates. Some led to real relationships, some to short interludes, and some to friendships. But most led absolutely nowhere.

And somewhere along the line, a new phenomenon emerged: The pool of available men I'd always counted on my friends, family, and acquaintances to fix me up with seemed to dry up. This forced me to endure yet another irritating phrase: "You're so great--I wish I knew someone to fix you up with."

But life goes on, and so do we. We go to work. We go to the gym. We go to lunch. We go shopping. We go on business trips. We go out to dinner. Still, it seems impossible to find someone you like who likes you back, who lives in your city, who's not seeing anyone, who wants to be in a relationship--now, not someday--and who, most importantly, asks you out on an actual date. Seems like a tall order.

It's not that it never happens; it just doesn't happen every day. So we get complacent. We get comfortable with our lives and our good friends and our routines. Many of us appreciate the freedom of being single and the focus we're able to place on ourselves and on our careers. This often leads to more fulfilling lives and to bigger and more interesting careers that are even more gratifying--but also more demanding on our time.

Birthdays continue to come and go and suddenly you're"Aunt Whoever" to your friends' kids. Don't get me wrong, because you love your friends and their kids. And you actually love being Aunt Whoever. But you can't help thinking, "Shouldn't I have this, too?" or "Why is it so hard for me to meet someone?" or "What can I do to get what I want?" This is where spinning up the dating energy comes into play.

Whether you're divorced, widowed or never married, when you spin up the dating energy, the goal is not necessarily to meet "the one." Rather, it's to create a new kind of environment in your life where the unexpected can happen.

Think of adding a new ingredient to a recipe you've made a thousand times. The result is a spicier dish. It's the same when you alter the recipe of your life. You actually become a spicier dish. You're just a teeny bit more off your guard than usual and a little bit more on your toes. You're outside your comfort zone just enough to get a little more excited, be a little more interesting, pay a little more attention, and be a little bit more vulnerable--just a little. And this, your mother, friends, and therapist will be happy to know, is what it really means to "be open" and to "put yourself out there."

It's also kind of sexy. We know this already because we've all experienced it. We call it "vacation sex." It's not that you go on vacation and suddenly turn into a porn star. It's thatgoing on vacation, by definition, changes your environment and adds those new "ingredients" that spice everything up. Suddenly, there are men everywhere! You think, "I should move here." But it's not them, it's you. You have truly become open. You have put yourself out there. You've spun up the dating energy.

The trick is to do it at home.

Online Dating--It's All About the Math

In order for online dating to do what online dating is meant to do--increase the number of dates you have, which, in turn, increases your overall chances of finding a long-term relationship--you have to recognize some key components of dating, online or offline, and they all have to do with spinning up the dating energy.

First, you have to go where the dates are. For the most part, dates are where the single people are. Even more dates are where the single people who are actually looking to date are hanging out. And now more than ever, a lot of them are hanging out online.

This does not mean they're Internet scammers just waiting for you to log on so they can pounce. I'm talking about going online for all the regular, everyday things most people do online: get news, pay bills, research cars and electronics, buyclothes, books, and music, or bid for playoff tickets on eBay (hey, if they're men, they're not bidding for vintage purses or Carrie Bradshaw's stolen silver Manolo Blahniks).

Second, you've got to realize that if you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten. Which, in a nutshell, means you have to be willing to break out of that shell and try something new. And that's the real beauty of the last-straw date and the theory of spinning up the dating energy. For some reason, this last date was a splash of cold water on your face (metaphorically speaking--hopefully, your date didn't splash cold water or anything else on you) alerting you that you may, in fact, be in a dating rut. And in the Internet world, getting online is a quick fix for getting out of a rut. Mostly it's about the sheer number of people online and the growth of high-speed Internet access. It's stunning to realize how quickly and easily vast numbers of people are connecting with one another online.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, which tracks and measures online data, there are roughly 207 million Internet users in the United States, and more than 95 million of those access the Internet through broadband connections like cable modems, DSL, or satellite service. Which basically means more people are paying more money to spend more time tooling around the Internet really quickly and easily. When it comes to online dating, the numbers are equally as staggering.

  • Between 18 and 25 million people log on to dating sites each month.
  • One in three Internet users says he or she would use the Internet to meet a potential dating partner.
  • Of all single adults dating online, 44 percent say they are looking for a long-term relationship.
  • Among American adults, 31 percent know someone who's used a dating website, and 15 percent know someone who's been in a long-term relationship with or married a person he or she met online.
  • More than 100,000 people get married each year as a result of meeting someone through an online dating service.

The Internet has the unique ability to group together many people with common interests, so through hundreds of credible, reputable online dating sites, you have the best of all worlds: a lot of single people aggregated in one place, all with the goal of meeting, greeting, and dating.

Now, at the beginning of this book I said that my career as a Hollywood publicist had a fascinating side effect: The skills I honed as a marketer also turned me into an accomplished online dater. But that's only part of my credentials. In an unusual literary twist, not only am I a successful Hollywood publicist, with a unique, anecdotally proven theory about dating, I'malso a single woman with years of dating experience. Like you, I'm in the dating trenches. I bring to the table a unique point of view that has allowed me to become an expert in the world of online dating from the ground up. And I'm here to spread the wealth.

I've spent years learning and putting into practice the unwritten laws of Internet dating so that my chances (and yours!) of finding a great match online are as high as possible. So while I'm not a psychologist, sociologist, or licensed counselor, I have critical on-the-job training that has led to real relationships, as well as some fantastic experiences with many wonderful, interesting men--all of whom I've met online. Each one has taught me something valuable to take into the next relationship and the next online endeavor.

All of the tips you will get from this book have come from my own experiences--including my own mistakes and corrections--and those of many other women as well. The stories and strategies I will share have a specific rationale behind them, which will help you increase your confidence and your overall chances for online dating success.

This book will give you the tools to navigate the world of online dating safely, with optimism and with results. This doesn't mean you'll find a husband online--or even a boyfriend. What this book does guarantee is that you'll be introduced to a whole new realm of people, many of whom are looking for the same thing you are, and that you'll present to themyour best self in the most attractive, intriguing, and appealing way.

You'll learn to read the language of online dating and develop the ability to weed out the dead-end dates before you go on them. You'll gain the self-assurance you need, not only to respond strategically to the men who contact you, but also to take the initiative and go after your own prospects.

So, as you get ready to take the online dating plunge, let's recap.

  • Online dating works best when you think of it as one more way to meet people--a spicy new ingredient in the overall dating recipe.
  • Online dating is efficient because it quickly puts you in an environment where there are lots of single, available people looking to date.
  • Online dating gets your adrenaline flowing because it forces you to go outside your comfort zone.
  • Online dating is a great way to "spin up the dating energy."

Now, before we begin, a small warning:

Just as in regular dating, many of the men you'll come across online will not be for you. Some will seem too good to be true--and will turn out to be exactly that. Some will be nicer than others. Some will seem to have a lot in common with you, and others, you'll be convinced, must have beenraised on Pluto (Mars seems so overused). Some will lack follow-through, and others will insist on corresponding long after you've made it clear you're not interested. Some will flat-out lie about any number of things, including their age, their job, or just how many times they've been divorced.

In other words, online dating can be as treacherous as real-world dating. But it can also be just as much of a blast!

Most of the men dating online are decent, hardworking regular guys looking for the same things you are. And, like you, many are also wondering how they managed to blow past thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, or more without meeting their special "one."

Let's see if we can help them out, OK?

LESLIE AND JEFF

The seventh guy I met through online dating became my boyfriend for a year. Truthfully, I never thought we'd last that long. We were just too different. I was a career girl with serious drive; he flitted happily from one thing to the next. I had one car with automatic everything, the right number of air bags, and working heat. He had a bunch of old Porsches, none of them built in the last two decades, and which combined were worth less than $15,000. But he was sweet. Funny. Charming. A gentleman. He was never put off by my successes or my outgoing personality. He was just happy to be with me. Early on, I asked him what made him decide to try online dating. He told me that his best friend had shown up at a party with his first real girlfriend in years. She was smart, pretty, and fun, and he contacted her after being online for ten months. His was the first email she ever received. They married in 2003.

FINE, I'LL GO ONLINE! Copyright © 2007 by Leslie Oren. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.