I found my prince on JDate. In November, we will celebrate our seventh anniversary.
It took me many years to be an overnight success. Overnight success? Ha!
Like most things worth having or doing, getting what I wanted (a special someone and a solid marriage) involved time, work, energy and, in this case, going on JDate.
Here is how my trip to the altar and happy marriage happened – or rather, how I made it happen. You can use the following steps to find your online dating success, too.
1. Get Clear About What You Want
After my first marriage ended, raising my daughter took center stage. Writing and teaching came next. Weekend dates, significant-ish others and periods with no men in my life were fine … for the time being, at least.
My needs changed. My daughter grew up, moved out, moved on and got engaged to a mensch. Male company for movies, dinner or part of the weekend were no longer enough for me. I had space (literally and emotionally) for a deep connection, and wanted to share my life with a mensch, too. I wanted the whole megillah.
Clarity is important. Think about your desires and needs. What do you really want? The whole megillah? A casual relationship? Something in between? Decide what feels right for you.
2. Go On JDate
Spending days alone writing or in front of classrooms of undergraduates exposed me to only a puddle of eligible men. Even if men are more a part of your everyday life, you will increase your chances of finding what you want if you dive right into a large dating pool.
Once I decided to go on JDate, I gave it my all. I got pictures taken professionally from a highly recommended photographer and devoted much time to writing and rewriting my profile. I described myself specifically, including that I laughed easily and loved my daughter, my work, reading, playing the piano and my friends. I was specific about the traits I wanted in a man. Among them were: warmth, kindness, a sense of humor, an ability to listen and a generosity of spirit.
You should show up fully and give it your all, too. Make sure your picture and profile are “you,” the best you can make them. Don’t be afraid to be honest about who you are and what you want. Devote time and energy to JDate. Be proactive. Don’t wait to be contacted. Do some reaching out. Make the first moves. Make JDate part of your routine even when you don’t feel like logging on.
3. Decide What You’re Willing To Compromise On
The man who brought his entire novel-in-progress to dinner for me to critique after I told him on the phone not to (four writing classes with 75 students was enough work for me) could not or would not hear me for Date 1. What would he be like on Date 2? Staring at his manuscript on the table, I bid him adieu after the meal. I did not wish to be further erased.
Another man said fine dining every weekend and wonderful vacations was all he wanted after two bad marriages. He did not wish to tie the knot again. I did.
Several men were pleasant enough, but pleasant enough was no longer enough for me.
“If you’re not sure about the dress, don’t buy it,” my mother once told me in a fitting room when I did not flip over the dress she loved.
My heart had to skip a beat.
4. Ask The Important Questions
An inability to listen, humorlessness and an aversion to commitment were among my deal breakers. Jonathan, my husband, has – among other things – a twinkle in his eye. I saw it in his photo. I loved how he described himself in his profile, except for one thing. He wrote he wanted a committed relationship. He didn’t say marriage.
Six weeks into our relationship (he will say it’s three), I invited him to my daughter’s wedding, 13 months away, while I planned ours in my head. My invitation surprised him – shocked him, actually. Eventually he said, “Yes.” Four months later, we made a Seder and invited all our children, wanting them to meet. They asked the four questions. When they left, I asked Jonathan one: about his two relationships before meeting me.
“Did you not want to get married, or did you not want to marry them?”
He smiled. “Them,” he said, emphatically.
I didn’t ask Jonathan for his hand that night, but started proposing that he propose.
5. Make A Good First Impression
Jonathan’s picture leaped out at me. Our first phone conversation flowed. So did our first date.
That it felt so easy surprised me, but at the same time, it didn’t. I had done years of shopping, dated many men and devoted time and energy to figuring out what felt right and wrong. I did not twist myself into a pretzel to be someone or something I was not. I didn’t settle.
As it turns out, my wedding was nine months after my daughter’s.
6. Trust Your Gut
If someone looks like a rat, he might be a rat. If you don’t get a whiff of his testosterone, there may not be much there. If he has daggers in his eyes, speaks with anger about his ex or exes, he may soon rage at you.
Every lawyer I dated was right … for my mother. But not for me.
Never mind what your relatives, friends, and neighbors think. What goes on inside of you? Your gut is your deepest truth. You’ll know when you’re clicking and when the magic is there.
It won’t happen overnight, but putting the effort into JDate could really pay off. In fact, I’m living proof that it can.
Nancy Davidoff Kelton is an author whose essays have appeared in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Her book Finding Mr Rightstein covers her experiences dating as a single Jewish mom in New York. Find out more on her website.
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