I'm dating again, so humor me!

After 19 years of marriage, 3 children, and a dog, I'm dating again in my late 40s. I'm post-divorce 3 years; I ripped the Band-Aid® off 2 years ago when I "unhid" my online dating profile, and since then, my life has never been quite the same. If you're already in the dating pool or at the precipice of pressing "save" on your dating profile, you're in good company. So humor me and see if any of my dating conjectures of DOs and DON'Ts, red flags, and overall tips compare with any of yours. 


When writing your online profile ...

DO: Use your real name. Hey, we're all not thrilled about having to be on this app and putting ourselves out there, but if you have to be MrMTNMan instead of your first name, you're not ready for this. 

DO: Make some sort of effort to write a little bit about yourself. Don't just use the default auto prompts with one-word answers. How can you ever be relied upon to take out the trash if you can't even take 5 minutes to write a few complete sentences?

DO: Pay to play. That means, cough up the $33 for 1 month (it's even cheaper per month if you pay upfront for 3, 6 months) so you can send messages, see profiles, and basically engage. That's why you're on it, right?! I know, I know, I waded in this way, too. I was a recipient of a few FREE replies from people, but what is that saying about you (cheap) and what is that saying about the person who pays for them (desperate). If you aren't willing to invest minimal $ for access, you certainly can't be counted on you to buy a drink, let alone dinner.

DO: Ask a question if you're sending a message. It has become evident to me how poorly skilled the general male population is in the art of conversation. I get it, carrying on a static conversation is somewhat difficult without inflection or nonverbal cues to work off of, but a simple question will help move the conversation along. If you have to pull the conversation along in this initial exchange, most likely you'll be carrying the conversation for the duration of the relationship—no thanks!

DO: Use minimal text abbreviations (if you really feel the need to use any at all). Things like—LOL, LTR, STBX, SUPs, INFJ. When your kids can decipher these and have a better idea of what he's trying to say, it's probably a RED FLAG, too.

When posting pictures to your online profile ...

DON'T: Post pictures of only your car, boat, etc. It should go without saying that this is an automatic RED FLAG: Douchebag (you know who you are).

DON'T: Post profile pictures with a beautiful woman (unless you note that she's your sister or daughter) on your arm or beautiful women surrounding you in string bikinis. The curse of comparison is written into the female DNA and that's just not going to work.

DON'T: Post pictures of your kids (unless faces are blotted out) or DON'T post copious pics of you with them. First, it puts into question your social awareness of "stranger danger" by sharing your child's face to the free world on a dating platform. Second, if you have too many photos of you and your kids looking way too happy, it's sort of like pimping out your kids to get a date. Advice: post a picture of you with a puppy instead. 

We've all been guilty of violating some of the DOs and committing some of the DON'Ts, but thankfully, online dating has a short-term memory. The process of dating, especially at my age, can be very self-deprecating, but I've found just as much as it to be quite self-actualizing. Because in the end, if we don't know ourselves well enough, how can we ever hope to know who we're looking for?

Follow Jinny as she shares her dating experiences in a series of articles on the OCN.

Are you on this dating roller coaster, too? We'd love to get your dating DOs and DON'Ts in the comments.