I met my husband online . . .

I met Mark through an online dating site.

It was six years since I graduated with an engineering degree. I considered myself to be successful at my career, but there was something lacking. I realized that despite being social and going out with friends, I hadn’t still met a guy that I was comfortable with. But, what made me truly realize the need for a strong man in my life was seeing my colleagues get married and have babies.

The past six months were especially painful, hanging out with my friends who were now proud parents or just dining alone to avoid the questions about when I would be settling down. That is when, I decided to take the plunge and sign up on a dating site.  I always believed that online dating was risky, was for weird people who couldn’t communicate socially, for stalkers and for people who are unattractive and hide behind their profiles online.

I did not consider myself to be unattractive, I had my fair share of advances, but I wasn’t getting any younger right? Perhaps the person I was yearning for was just not available, or maybe was hiding in cyberspace. I thought, if I had  difficulty finding love offline, maybe there was someone in the opposite gender with the same difficulty?

So with these random thoughts, I signed up to the online dating site, fingers crossed and a slightly tremulous heart, started filling up my details, hoping that I was not giving up too much of my privacy. After logging in, I tried out the features and did a simple search to see what kind of profiles turn up. I scanned through a few and found that it was much of the same stuff I was meeting offline.

I was about to give up when I laid eyes on a profile that was different from all the hunk photos. This one did not have a profile photo! How weird was that? The profile despite the absence of the picture was something I felt was too good to be true! It seemed like we were a perfect match…and he lived in my city!

I connected, and left a message to see if he was still available and looking. I mean, his profile was great, he could already be hooked! But, luckily, he pinged me the next day and we started chatting online and discovering each other. After about a week, we decided to meet. He knew how I looked, but I hadn’t seen his photo and nor did he share his.

For our first meeting we went to a local bar.  I asked him what I should look for and how to identify him. He told me he would be the one with the flowers. Well, when I got to the bar I didn’t see anyone with flowers and no one jumped up to recognize me so I sat there waiting, feeling really nervous and kind of uncomfortable. Then this man rushed in with a brown paper bag, came up to me and said, ‘Are you Crystal? I’m so sorry I’m late, the florist was closed so I ran over to a different shop where I found this,’ and presented me with a beautiful print of a flower.

The rest of the night was just breezed through. He was delightful and you can say, I was swept off my feet, by his charm and chivalry! We dated for a couple of years and then one fine day, out of the blue, Mark proposed. We had a fairy tale wedding and now, 5 years on, It’s truly blissful.

However, a word of caution for the people looking online for partners – whether they be casual or like me, some one to hold on to for life, not everything is safe on the internet.

First dates are an opportunity to meet new people.

Remember these tips to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

Let someone know where you’re going
Until you feel comfortable with the person you’re dating, for safety sake make sure that someone knows where you are going and what time you expect to get back.

Stay in public places
You will have a greater degree of control should something go badly if you stay in public places.

Schedule short dates
Planning a short date (coffee, drinks, lunch) commits you to a limited time. You can meet the person and decide if you want to spend more time with them.

Plan multi-layered dates
Start with drinks and if it goes well move onto dinner, a movie, etc. Have a few options in mind when you set out.

Plan your dates
There’s nothing worse than actually being on a date and trying to figure out what to do…”I dunno, what do YOU want to do?”

Group dates can be fun
Plan to meet up with friends. Other people can make you feel more comfortable and take the pressure off.

OF COURSE
No matter how casual the date make sure you go through the ritual of making sure you look nice, your breath is okay, and your clothes are clean. Does it need to be said?

Always have money
Whatever your beliefs about gender roles in dating make sure you have enough money to cover yourself, get home, etc…