Get a net result in the dating game
By Jo Davison
Published on Wednesday 8 February 2012 09:39
Both the ink on the divorce certificate and your tears of regret have long dried.
It’s time to move on. A new life – and hopefully a new love – await.
But it’s decades since you were in the dating game and going in search of romance is a daunting prospect.
Where do you go, what do you say – and what if you end up meeting Mr Wrong all over again?
Scores of women find themselves in the middle-aged dating dilemma. The rules and the methods of meeting a potential partner have changed so dramatically, plus most of your friends are married, you don’t know how to start.
Sheffield dating coach Karen Perkins, a divorcee herself, is determined to show second time-arounders how to get through the dating maze and on to love again, by using the most effective method of all – computer-dating. You feel like you’ll never meet the right man, yet in reality, your perfect partner could be just the click of a button away.
Says the mum of two: “We use the internet for everything now. We buy online, we communicate online. It makes perfect sense to ‘shop’ for a potential partner from your computer. Yet it still carries with it this stigma of being for the desperate no-hopers.
“So many people, middle-aged women in particular, are wary of it. Yet they are the ones it could help the most,” says mum of two Karen, of Ecclesall.
A successful life coach for a number of years, Karen found most of her clients were coming to her after divorce.
“They wanted to empower themselves at a time when their lives had changed dramatically. But I realised that once they had found their self-confidence and were finding a fresh attitude to life through coaching, the next huge and scary step was for them to start dating,” she says.
“It is a really nerve-wracking time – I’m divorced; I can vouch for that. You have been with the same partner for years, you’ve not made flirty small talk since you were last single. You can’t bear the thought of making an utter fool of yourself or of getting hurt again.”
Karen is coaching women at varying stages in the internet dating ‘game’.
They range from online dater of three months, Michelle, 39, to beginners like Jane, a mother of four from Sheffield who divorced 15 years ago. “My children are grown up and I’d like to find someone compatible, someone on the same wavelength, to spend time with,” says Jane.
“Internet dating appeals; it seems a logical way of finding single people with the same interests.
“But I’m not very computer-literate; I’m out of my comfort zone. The thought of writing a profile to promote myself feels off-putting.
“I’m hoping Karen will help me with it and give me some pointers about how to date safely, too. We are all aware that the internet can be of great benefit to us, but also has to be approached with care.”
Jane has a positive and relaxed approach to dating again, unlike many Karen sees. “I have to get them to approach a first date as if it’s not some potentially life-changing event, but a fun night out with someone you may or may not want to see again.
“Often, to get to that stage, women need to discuss their dating history with me and identify where they maybe went wrong before. One very important question I ask is: what would you do differently this time?”
Karen says she teaches women the importance of learning to love themselves again: “I help them get their self-confidence back and trust their instincts again – which also allows their personalities to shine out when they do go on a date eventually.
“Dating in middle age can be really fun. I tell them maturity brings better judgement. You are in a much better position to decide whether you would want to see this person again than you were when you were 20.”
Mum of two Michelle, who left a relationship of 20 years a year ago, has found internet dating huge fun.
“I got a date the first day I joined a site; I met a chap for coffee and the cinema. There was no spark, but he was very sweet and caring,” she says.
“I have now met 11 men. I’d felt alone and isolated after my marriage ended. Now I know I could have a date with a single man any night of the week if I wanted.”
Michelle is taking it slowly – she still hasn’t found anyone she wants romance with. She’s come to Karen for a bit of expert advice in making her selections and for a lesson in how to tweak her searches of men on the site to widen the possibilities of meeting more suitable dates.
Karen helps clients with their written profiles, safety issues, polite exit strategies when they want first dates to be last dates and practice conversation, advice on clothes and make-up. She even runs through a dummy date with nervous types and teaches women how to do everything from flirt to ‘weeding out the creeps’.
Date-coaching costs from £45 for one session with back-up support to £180 for four sessions over 2-3 months, with motivational exercises, worksheets and text updates.
To find out more go to www.karenperkinslifecoach.co.uk or call 07971 881251.
Tips for internet daters
Karen’s tips for new Internet daters
Persevere. It’s like internet shopping; hit and miss. You may have to meet a lot of people to find the someone you really like.
It’s not all about finding love. Some people you meet you may keep as friends, or for moral support.
When you set up your Internet dating profile, choose your words carefully. Look at other profiles, see what appeals to you and go on similar lines. Get friends to check it to ensure you are not encouraging the wrong responses.
Read the site’s dating safety tips and take things at your pace. Do not give out any personal info until you feel ready.
If you have a photograph in your profile you will get more responses. If you don’t want one online because of the nature of your job, state you are happy to send a photo later, otherwise people may overlook you. Be careful what you share by webcam though; you never know who else is watching.
If someone sounds strange, then trust your intuition and don’t have further contact.
When you go on a date tell a friend – and text them when you are safely home.
Think of a good dating venue in advance – somewhere safe and well-known to you but where you won’t find all your friends.
If you feel uncomfortable walking into a venue alone, meet outside a coffee shop or pub and walk in together.
Never give out your address or home telephone number until you are ready.
Get a Sim-only card for your old phone so you can use it to avoid calls you do not want.
Set up a separate Hotmail account for your dating so emails do not clog up your home or business account.
There are lots of dating sites and newspaper dating pages. Have a good look at them, their cost, if they attract your kind of date.
Wait for special offer joining fees. Take advantage of offers to check out a site for free.
Think of some ‘killer questions’ to ask online or by phone to help find people who really tick your boxes.
A bit of Googling or Facebooking can provide extra information on strangers.
Have an Internet Shopping Date night with your friends. Get your profile photos done over a glass of wine, some feedback on your clothes choices. Friends will love helping you.
Take five years off your age – most men online are drawn towards younger women rather than those their own age.
Add five years to theirs – they are probably doing the same thing.
Don’t give up – there is someone out there for you.