Imagine the joy of finding the love of your life, an exciting romantic liaison or a rewarding friendship when you are looking and feeling your worst. You had a hellish time at work the previous day, you feel as though you haven't slept a wink, your skin would be a voyage of exploration for a dermatologist and a crow would be more than happy nesting in your hair. You feel tired and fed up and your self-esteem is at an all time low. You long for someone special with whom to share your life, but right now you feel that even Quasimodo wouldn't consider you as a romantic option. In this moment of self-deprecation, how is meeting Mr or Mrs Right possible? By taking advantage of online dating, of course.
Helen is 38 and works for a prestigious law firm. Her dating track record since the tragic and premature death of her husband five years ago has been poor. Although the majority of Helen's work colleagues are male, she says, "The majority of them are married and even if they were available, I would not be interested. I also don't think I could cope with having a relationship with someone involved in the legal sector. I imagine that we would find it very hard to leave our work behind. Socially, where does one go to meet likeminded men who are genuinely interested in a relationship as opposed to a one-night stand?"
Helen went onto explain that she met her late husband whilst at university and, during the many contented years of her marriage, she had a fairly blinkered view of dating agencies. "I viewed them with suspicion, assuming that they were frequented by people who either had major personality flaws, or else had some ulterior seedy motive. I never once stopped to think about how difficult it is in this day and age to meet suitable companions in mainstream environments. Of course, about two years after Harry's death when I began thinking that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life alone, I realised that meeting other people was not that easy. Clubs and pubs really didn't appeal to me. I tried going with friends to wine bars, but found that I was largely on the receiving end of unwanted attention from men in whom I had no interest. It was also obvious that the majority of them were just after a quick thrill.
Helen quickly began to view dating agencies as an attractive option, but didn't really like the idea of being computer-matched with someone. After all, that removed personal choice and she made it clear that she was not the sort of person who liked having choices made for her! Her decision to try online dating as an alternative was made whilst awaiting a dental appointment.
"In the waiting room, I came across an article on online dating as I was idly perusing the obligatory stack of well-thumbed women's magazines. The article must have been particularly well written, because I was instantly sold on the idea. The concept of being able to peruse a database of potential suitors whilst still in my dressing gown was extremely appealing. At least I knew that when I did dress up, it would be because I actually had a date, rather than putting a huge effort into preparing for a night cruising around social clubs, with no guarantee that I was going to meet someone. After my appointment, I couldn't wait to get home and begin checking out some of the sites that were recommended.
Helen spent a long time researching the plethora of online dating sites before she found one that she felt catered for her needs, which of course included a level of security.
"I wasn't particularly drawn to totally free sites, because I felt that they were more likely to attract members who weren't particularly serious about the process, or whose intentions weren't entirely honourable. I was more interested in sites that allowed you to peruse profiles, but which required you to pay for full membership before allowing you to contact other members. That way, I knew that those I contacted were probably more serious about meeting someone special and not just after a quick fling. I wanted to sign up with a site where I felt totally in control and also secure in the knowledge that none of my personal contact details would be divulged to anyone unless I specifically chose to give out this information. I was also more impressed by sites that offered a range of relationship advice and articles."
Helen eventually signed up with www.DatingHappy.com and says that it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
"At first I felt rather embarrassed admitting to even my closest friends that I had chosen this route, but when I did, I was amazed at how many of them had also considered doing the same thing. One of my friends, whom I assumed had met her husband at the gym, admitted that she had actually met him via an online message forum. Although this wasn't the same as a dating agency, essentially it was no different. She had found someone with whom she shared common interests, but whom she had not previously met face-to-face and that is exactly how I began broadening my male social circle, except via a dedicated relationship facility.
Helen says that she found the search process "exhilarating".
"It was like being an invisible fly on the wall in a room full of interesting men from all walks of life with their personal profiles attached to them I could look, analyse and weigh up the options in a way that would be impossible if all those men were in one room. The best part was the convenience and the fact that it didn't matter one iota what I looked like or how I behaved!
"I also liked the idea of initially being able to build the foundations of a relationship on friendship and mutual interests, before actually meeting someone and being blinded by lust, which of course never lasts with the same intensity as at the beginning of a relationship!"
Has Helen met her match?
"Very possibly", she laughs. "I've had tremendous fun and I'd like to say that I believe I have found a relationship with future potential, but you'll just have to wait and see......!!"
About The Author
Jan Andersen is a British Freelance Writer and Copywriter specialising in articles and features on diverse lifestyle topics and social issues. She has also participated in many TV and radio programmes. Jan also owns and runs five websites; World Writer, Mothers Over 40, Child Suicide, SACS (Surviving After Child Suicide) and Jan Andersen Writing Services. Until recently, Jan had four children aged 20, 18, 16 and 4. Her eldest son, Kristian, tragically took his own life on 1 November 2002. Whilst campaigning for depression, suicide and drugs' awareness, Jan is writing a book on child suicide entitled, "Chasing Death".