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Clear the Roadblocks to Your Online Dating Success

Many women become online dating dropouts before giving it a chance to work. They may try a few free searches but never post a profile to make contact with a potential match. They may also stop short when it comes to adding a photo or completing the application. In my interviews, I found nine barriers. Is one of these stopping you?

Roadblock No. 1: Shyness

Create a profile that painted a flattering yet truthful picture, including this: "I really don't like to talk about myself much. I'd rather listen to what you have to say. Once I get to know you, though, you'll enjoy our thoughtful, funny conversations."

Roadblock No. 2: Waiting for Personal Improvement

"I want to get a facelift first." "I plan to get my teeth whitened." "I need to lose 25 pounds." I'm all in favor of self-improvement, but your social life can move forward online while the metamorphosis takes place. I don't believe in waiting until everything about you is perfect. When my first husband and I split up, I looked the absolute worst of my life. And yet I met someone, a wonderful person that I dated for a while and then corresponded with for two years.

Roadblock No. 3: What if Someone I Know Sees the Ad?

"I work in a man's world, and if a client saw my ad, I think I'd be mortified." What would it mean if a client did see your profile? It would mean that he's probably an online dater like you! More than 15 million people over age 30 try online dating. Compose a profile that keeps personal information to a minimum so there is nothing to embarrass you.

Roadblock No. 4: It's Not Romantic

We all hope for those effortless encounters. We're thrilled by stories of the strangers who sit together on a train and feel an instant connection. I know these kinds of romantic fantasies can come true. I also know that being practical and helping Cupid out a little can be a better route to romance. Every online couple I know considers their story a modern romance. For example, instead of reciting a poem at her wedding two years ago, 51-year-old Stephanie Fischer read her husband Jim's first email to her. "This," she said, "is why I'm marrying this man." Isn't that romantic?

Roadblock No. 5: Does It Work?

Close to 40 million people visit online dating sites every month; 60 percent of them are men; more than 40 percent of all visitors are over age 30. The best thing about this vast group is that it is comprised of people who self-identify as daters. In fact, they've taken the time and trouble to announce that they want to meet someone. The computer then takes this qualified pool of cooperative prospects and starts sorting: by age, geography, interests, pets or no pets, smoking or nonsmoking, on and on. By the time the electronic sorting is over, the millions may be down to hundreds or dozens. Or just one -- the right one, the only one you need.

Roadblock No. 6: I'm Set in My Ways

"I like my freedom." "I can buy what I want and do what I want when I want to." Many women embrace independence so whole-heartedly that they box themselves into an uncompromising corner. The trouble with staying in the corner is that it doesn't offer room to expand. It's stifling after awhile and, of course, it gets lonely there.

Roadblock No. 7: I've Been Burned Before

"I corresponded with a guy for weeks. When we met, he was nothing like I expected. I'll never waste my time again."

What in life works perfectly the first time you try it? I'm glad I don't give up easily. If I did, I never would have survived putting myself through college, or my first winter in New York. Perseverance also paid off when I raked through a mountain of emails and a spate of dreadful dates until I hit pay dirt -- Walter. The old adage "once burned, twice shy" doesn't mean stop and surrender. I interpret it as a caution to be thoughtful and learn something for next time. Stay in the game, and go get him.

Roadblock No. 8: I'm Not Interested in Sex

If you watch television, you may believe that people our age are inveterate sex fiends. However, an estimated 25 percent of premenopausal women, and one in three menopausal women, have low sex drives, according to findings reported by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Indeed, a low sex drive is the most common sexual complaint made by women. Despite the multimillion dollar ad campaigns, not every man over 45 is popping Viagra like vitamins. Many have opted to put their prowess out to pasture. And it doesn't make them any less loving and romantic. "No sex" does not equal no dates.

Roadblock No. 9: I Can't Get My Act Together

Many women want a more robust dating life, but they have trouble setting priorities, getting organized, and moving the ball forward. Your happiness and well-being should always be a chief -- if not the chief -- goal. But maybe you haven't set goals for yourself in a long time. It's fairly common in midlife to drift along until a crisis demands attention and renewed awareness. Why wait for a shake-up to discover your hopes and aspirations? Do a self-review and -- this is very important -- write down your priorities in order.

Make a plan to transform thought into action. Break your goal down into small steps ("Write a headline for my profile," for example) and focus on completing one step a day, or week. Be sure to carry out the step at your peak time of day. Don't put it off while you read your emails or listen to phone messages, the way many of us start off the morning. You'll get distracted and move on to other tasks. Put first things first on your agenda. Chances are, once you take that itty-bitty step, the momentum of doing something positive will ignite your enthusiasm.

Now, get to it. Write your profile, post it with a great photo and get on with the fun of discovering who might be out there waiting to meet you.


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