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Point, Click, Date, and Mate: An Online Dating Primer

June 21, 2010

Online dating takes the pressure off finding an interracial match

She’s baaaack, my co-author, ace reporter and writer extraordinaire, Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn discusses a topic that scares the begeezus out of some black women: online dating.  Some of us fear they’ll meet Jeffery Dahmer’s best friend, Ted Bundy’s ghost or at minimum, that guy with the weird hair in those Staples commercials: 

Online dating is a GREAT way to meet men you might otherwise pass on the street, and better yet, you get to like the person from the inside, out.  We’ll have comprehensive tips on how to perfect this dating technique in the book, but since we like you so much, we’ll just give you a taste, but NO SECONDS!

Okay, I’m going to shut up know and let Janice take the floor.

—————————

For those who read my introductory entry last week, you are aware of how painfully e-apprehensive I am about this whole blogging business. So just imagine my trepidation about online dating (yes, more of the proverbial kicking and screaming). But after a friend in New York suggested it was time I broadened my options, I signed up.

I’d been going through a dating droop after my six-year Hollywood romance with an actor ended like some pathetic daytime soap opera storyline. (Dumped via email. He’d met someone else.) The only guys paying me any attention were married men, older men (like Sean Connery-grandpa age, but not as sexy) and gay men. So, really, what did I have to lose — except for maybe some time and a couple hundred bucks?

I got it out of my head that finding a date online didn’t equal desperation. (Christelyn met Michael online eons ago and look at them now!) It was about maximizing my man options. My NYC pal had met her newly wedded hubby on eHarmony, so that’s where I started.

About a month in, I got bold and decided to maximize my hookup options with match.com.  After four months and endless hours online trolling photos and profiles and, yes, a few dates — one with a black man, a couple of white guys and a Mexican with a fetish for women in high heels — I decided it was cheaper to get a BOB (battery operated boyfriend) and a fabulous pair of sexy 4-inch Max Factor red pumps, and curb my online enthusiasm for a while.

Although I was going on dates, I really wasn’t enjoying the process. I realized later that I was treating online dating like job hunting, aiming for “the one” instead of having fun — and fun is precisely what Leslie Oren suggests in Fine, I’ll Go Online! The Hollywood Publicist’s Guide to Successful Internet Dating (St. Martin’s Griffin).  “I never say you’re going to meet your husband online,” Oren said about the book for an article I wrote in Emmy Magazine. “But the more you date, [well…], the more you date—just like getting traction with a celebrity, or a movie, or a television show.”

Oren is senior vice president of publicity for Fox Television Studios. During her career, she’s helped launched shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Extra and The Bachelor. In her book, she applies the same tricks of the PR trade to help women “spin” and “pitch” their online image: from crafting the perfect profile and photos to practical put-your-best-foot-forward advice that’s helped her friends – and Oren (who last I heard was engaged) – get great dates.  According to Oren, online dating can be …

  • Empowering: “It’s really about women feeling empowered about dating and how to put themselves out into the world that leaves them optimistic about the future,” she said. “At the time I started writing (the book) I was experiencing, that Sex and the City post mortem breakfast that you would see on the show, with my women friends going around the table taking about the men  they’d been dating, and that dejection really broke my heart. I was look at these women going, ‘You guys are the bomb, and these men are making you feel like nothing. We have to change this!’”
  • Humanizing:  “When I was younger and living in New York,” Oren said, “I could walk down the street, be on the subway, stand in a movie line, be waiting for a table in a restaurant and meet people each time. Today, in those same scenarios, nobody’s available or reaching out to you — everybody’s on their cell phones their PDAs, their Blackberries, they’re texting.  Ironically, while all this technology has caused community in our actual lives to shrink, our communities online have expanded, and there are millions of people all in one location all interested in dating.”
  • Ego boosting:  “Online dating gave me confidence and optimism,” said Oren, “because all of a sudden I was dating again and meeting people online and off-line – and that’s as good of a reason as any to date online.”
  • Enlightening:  “What I consider success online is that you manage to pull from all of these different men online that you think you might have something in common with,” Oren said. If you meet and it’s a nice experience, that’s icing on the cake — you go out again, big success.
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29 Comments leave one →
  1. David Wise permalink
    June 22, 2010 3:57 am

    You guys seem to put so much time and effort into dating (interracial and otherwise) that sooner or later, you’ll find someone to settle down with. I wish you good luck!

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 22, 2010 7:06 am

      David, I’m married! The purpose of this blog is to help, support, share and exchange information about interracial and intercultural relationships. Just like you’ll find blogs dedicated to gardening, growing your hair long, or staying skinny. But! You can pass that luck on to my partner Janice, who is single. She might not need it though–she’s been asked out on a date three times in a row over the last week. I’ve been practicing some voodoo chants and I really think that chicken blood is helping! 🙂

      • Janice Rhoshalle permalink
        June 22, 2010 9:07 am

        Actually, David, you’d be surprised how little time and effort I’ve actually put into dating. That I’ve done a little work, though, has become interesting fodder to share to readers…and is a great jumping off point for discussion.

        And, Christelyn, really…stop it with the chicken blood. I’ll need to buy *another* new dress if I get another offer to go to lunch, and you know I’m broke.

      • Browncow permalink
        June 22, 2010 9:50 am

        You did not just throw in the chicken blood! I thought it was supposed to be from a rooster. Oh well. 🙂

    • Janice Rhoshalle permalink
      June 22, 2010 4:27 pm

      In a village in Ghana I visited, they actually used a chicken. So Chris obviously is up on her voodoo stuff…

      • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
        June 22, 2010 5:23 pm

        HAHAHA!

  2. Browncow permalink
    June 22, 2010 6:37 am

    Hey! I met my husband online! It was a great experience. I went to eHarmony set up a profile and paid for six months. I met a couple of guys. One who was really interesting, but a couple of years younger than me (not that it matters, but his mentality was kind of immature, kept talking about sex, instant turn off) and my husband. I found him in like two weeks. We went through the process and talked online for a couple of weeks through e-mail and then exchanged numbers. We talked on the phone for like a week before he asked me out on a date to meet. I said yes of course and the rest is history. We had so much in common, really enjoyed hanging out, cooking together, sci-fi movies, hiking and being outdoors, and reading. We were also looking for qualities that we wanted in the future parents of our children and we clicked on that too. So a year and a half after our first date we were married and have been so happily for 5 years this September.

    My advice. Just do it. You have nothing to lose really and you can gain a lot of nice friendships and learn a lot about what you really want in a mate along the way. Just go out for fun and if it doesn’t work out in the romantic sense don’t sweat it. You only need one guy anyway and don’t have to have every man salivating over you. Just keep your standard the same for everyone regardless of ethnicity and you’ll do fine.

  3. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 22, 2010 7:10 am

    Browncow, I totally agree. Online dating opens your dating pool to infinity! Me and the hubster met on Yahoo Chat WAAAY before the proliferation of all these dating sites; you kids to today have it good! He had to walk three miles uphill in the snow to find a computer with a dial up connection! Whipper snappers!

    BTW, this is good advice. I’m just trying to understand why some women (especially black women) are so hesitant to try it!

    • Browncow permalink
      June 22, 2010 10:18 am

      Alright, up the hill in three feet of snow to get an internet connection? Now you’re telling those stories I used to hear my mom tell about how far they had to walk to school. I didn’t believe her until she showed me.

      Anyways, about the hesitation of BW to online dating, I can relate. I told my eldest sister to go online to find dates and she just would have nothing to do with it. I think she feels it’s a last ditch effort of desperation to find a man and also she quoted that same b.s. about in church they say not to look. Like God is going to drop a man in your living room, “Thank You, Jesus!!!”. I just stopped trying to get her to do it because she just is so stubborn, but looks at my life like someone just put it in my lap. She was talking to a guy who was on “disability” with an “honorable discharge” from the military, and fighting to get his “social security”. He tried to dangle the “Oh I want to get married to YOU” carrot in front of her, but luckily she’s getting wise now and told him that she would not accept that because she would have to be working to support him, her, and his child when her children are already grown. How about, hmmmm….NO!!! My husband and I told her at the beginning of the year no HUD projects or HUD-bands. So at least she’s following our advice on that. I just wish more BW would just do internet dating. It’s a great way to weed out the losers as well as a way to socially network. Why do they think it’s being desperate? You aren’t going to meet the man of your dreams at a bar or club, so why not the internet? I just don’t get it.

  4. Bunny77 permalink
    June 22, 2010 8:27 am

    I’m just trying to understand why some women (especially black women) are so hesitant to try it!

    That’s what I wonder too. If I ever suggest online dating to some black women, they react like I slapped their mama or something.

    Or (to tie this in with another topic) they’ve listed to sermons in which a black male pastor (and some black women too) say that online dating is akin to “looking,” and is a sign that one doesn’t trust God.

    Or… online dating just isn’t “natural,” and they want to have a relationship just develop naturally. Meanwhile, they haven’t been on a date in five years, so nothing is exactly happening “naturally” at all in their lives.

    I don’t get it, really

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 22, 2010 8:37 am

      “Or (to tie this in with another topic) they’ve listed to sermons in which a black male pastor (and some black women too) say that online dating is akin to “looking,” and is a sign that one doesn’t trust God.”

      OMG, just ANOTHER way the traditional black church is keeping black women lonely and single. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m about to blast this on FB. SMDH!! Thanks Bunny77

      • Janice Rhoshalle permalink
        June 22, 2010 9:21 am

        My brow stylist (oh my goodness, did I just admit that I have one…I’m such an L.A. gal) told me that someone she knows says she’s not “desperate enough” to try online dating. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that, and was part of the reason Chris and I felt it was important to discuss this in the blog — and very thoroughly in the book.

        There’s absolutely nothing desperate about online dating. In fact, besides my adventurous co-author, I now know of at least a dozen girlfriends, cousins and colleagues who have met their significant others on eHarmony, match.com and blacksinglesmeet.com (okay you dating sites, there’s a plug, now you should want to start paying for the privilege.) It’s really become a great way to meet people and broaden horizons. One of my online dates lived in Santa Barbara, so I met him there as it is a favorite get away spot of mine, and he introduced me to parts of it I had never explored before.

        Although I see the problem being rooted in in the fear of the unknown, black women should stop being so timid about this issue and embrace the technology in their dating lives the same way they’ve embraced their cell phones and texting, Tweeting and Facebook…the latter of which is also, interestingly enough, a great way to meet a man, an e-six degrees of separation kind of thing.

  5. Hodan permalink
    June 22, 2010 10:04 am

    I’ve yet to venture into online dating. I found this website a while back for and one my girlfriend and I decided to try it by creating one account. What inspired us mainly were the variety of good looking guys on there, then we thought that’s just too shallow & immature. It will be great if there was a list of good online dating sites to checkout.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 22, 2010 10:11 am

      Hodan, I think the best choice is eHarmony.com. That’s a site that’s dedicated to matching couples serious about forging a future together. Anyone else have some recommendations for Hodan?

    • Janice Rhoshalle permalink
      June 22, 2010 4:36 pm

      There’s nothing shallow about wanting to date a good-looking man. We all judge a book by its cover. The surface stuff is what pulls us all in. Of course we all know what’s on the inside that really counts, but how do you know what’s on the inside if you don’t at least give an online wink to the cute guy on the dating site. I implore you — no, I dare you — to take a chance at finding the happiness you seek.

      As for dating sites, I think it’s all a matter of personal preference. While my friend found her mate on eHarmony, I preferred match.com. Not only was the site choosing men for me, but I got to search through profiles of men on my own (and the men could seek me out on their own as well). Another friend found his mate on blacksinglesmeet.com. The key is to make sure the site is reputable and has security measures in place to protect privacy.

      The main thing is to get out there, be open minded and have fun. It may surprise you who you’ll end up with. So enjoy the journey.

      • Hodan permalink
        June 23, 2010 10:52 am

        thanks guys. I think for a long time I thought with the same silly stereotype that only desperate people date online. I’ll definitely check both sites and my friends also have checked out others that are culturally and religiously oriented beyond Christianity.

  6. MadamCJCPA permalink
    June 22, 2010 11:03 am

    randomthoughtsfromcali :Browncow, I totally agree. Online dating opens your dating pool to infinity! Me and the hubster met on Yahoo Chat WAAAY before the proliferation of all these dating sites; you kids to today have it good! He had to walk three miles uphill in the snow to find a computer with a dial up connection! Whipper snappers!
    BTW, this is good advice. I’m just trying to understand why some women (especially black women) are so hesitant to try it!

    Christielyn,
    You’re not the only one that did the chat room hook-up. That is how I met my boyfriend (long-term) back in ’97 and we were living 800 miles apart. Now how’s that for distance? He and I started out as just friends chatting online and over the phone for hours on end. I actually dated a couple of other guys that I had met in the same chat room that were strategically closer, so I never gave him much thought other than as a friend. I happened to be in his neck of the woods on vacation (a couple of years later) and I called him up to pick me up at the airport. He volunteered to play tour guide, and the sparks were there; after that as they say the “rest is history.”

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 22, 2010 5:25 pm

      We’re Old School!

  7. Becca permalink
    June 22, 2010 6:10 pm

    I must admit, I was extremely apprehensive about online dating. I guess it was for a variety of reasons, including “What will (such and such) think of me if they find out I met this guy online?” I’ve had some success. I met my most recent boyfriend online, and even though it didn’t work out, I’m not planning on “giving up” so to speak. I mean, the world is so big and so connected now that it seems silly to not think about opening one’s horizons, be it by online dating, taking a salsa class, learning a new language, or something.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 22, 2010 7:04 pm

      That’s a great attitude. Get back in the ring, girl!

  8. Cheri permalink
    June 22, 2010 7:50 pm

    Online dating is not a bad thing although I used to think it was. I had to change my attitude about it before doing it. If you go into online dating with a negative attitude then you will have a negative experience. I changed my attitude and met a great guy on match.com. You get what you put into it.

  9. Ali permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:22 pm

    Another long comment –

    I just want to throw my two cents in, as someone who is not a fan of online dating. There are several reasons I don’t like it – I’m not a techie, I’m a private person (I would never put my personal information on something like facebook), and I simply have a hard time getting a ‘feel’ for someone through a computer. I’ve met people who photograpgh horribly, but in person they’re great. Someone who on paper migt sound great, but there’s no chemistry. . . .for people like me, I would really recommend meetup.com. It’s really the place for people like me – it’s embarrassing, but most of my friends? I met in meetup groups.

    If I were looking for romance, I find that the best groups are the ones that are not the ‘obvious’ meat markets – singles groups, wine tasting group, gallery tour, etc. The really great groups – and the ones where there are twice as many men as women – hiking/running/bicycling/rock climbing/squash/ adventure sports groups, inturmural sports, anything science related, bible study meetups (genrally a good way to meet single christians from diff. racial groups who don’t attend your church), anything having to do with world cup/soccer (euro, australian, and south american guys), political disscussion groups – where you have a debate over dinner, and chess/poker groups.

    When I attend these, I’ve NEVER seen another black woman – I kid you not, never ONE -ever. I see other races though -Indian, asian, white – never seen a black woman. And there are always more men then women. I’m off the market right now, but just the other day I met a young Indian American guy who owns a tech company in a hiking group. HE OWNS A TECH COMPANY. He’s 32, He’s 6′ tall, funny, nice, good looking. The sweet asian girl in the group was all over that.

    The only groups I’ve heard from friends that black women are. . . . . black women ‘sista’ support groups, natural hair groups (because people with the same hair will get along!?), book clubs, and black singles stuff.

    I don’t get it! A few months ago I had afterwork drinks with a girl who was looking to get married, like tommorow – she’s in her mid thirties, and not in a relationship. She’s really stressed about it. She doesn’t want to date white guys (or any other type of non-black), but she is ‘open’ to certain Latinos, ’cause they have flava (eye roll, but I let it pass) I told her to try meetup.com.

    She said ‘Oh, I did – but there was no one at the book club’. THE BOOK CLUB? SERIOUSLY?

  10. Ali permalink
    June 23, 2010 2:31 pm

    cont’d
    I feel like black women are 30 – 40 years behind. They are still thinking in a ‘me in my tight little black community way’ and not on a global level. They don’t seem to realize that there’s a ‘global market’ for these men that they have to get out and compete with. I know that sounds calculated and awful and not romantic at all, but it’s true. Other women don’t talk about it, but they are quietly out there, angling for the best matches they can get.

    Maybe it’s because most black women don’t have fathers in their lives? They’re a little afraid of men or something? I can’t figure it out . . . . . .it’s like there’s this strange hesitation, like they’re frozen in space or something.

    And yet this same black woman I had drinks with is an absolute dynamo in the work place. How can she be so great and smart and daring and go-getter on the job and so foolish about dating?

  11. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 23, 2010 2:52 pm

    Ali :

    cont’d
    I feel like black women are 30 – 40 years behind. They are still thinking in a ‘me in my tight little black community way’ and not on a global level. They don’t seem to realize that there’s a ‘global market’ for these men that they have to get out and compete with. I know that sounds calculated and awful and not romantic at all, but it’s true. Other women don’t talk about it, but they are quietly out there, angling for the best matches they can get.

    Maybe it’s because most black women don’t have fathers in their lives? They’re a little afraid of men or something? I can’t figure it out . . . . . .it’s like there’s this strange hesitation, like they’re frozen in space or something.

    And yet this same black woman I had drinks with is an absolute dynamo in the work place. How can she be so great and smart and daring and go-getter on the job and so foolish about dating?

    Ali, I definitely think the lack of fathers in single households have a lasting and indelible effect on how BW engage in romantic relationships. Basically, you know what you see. So if Mama had a bunch of trifiling men in and out, it’s going to be hard not to follow Mamma. I think BW have done a great job of advancing themselves on an education and work level, but love is a dance that often eludes us. Here’s to hoping communities like these will spread!

  12. Ali permalink
    June 23, 2010 3:58 pm

    Yea, I agree. On the other hand, I have terrible male influences (or none at all) growing up – really awful. This sounds horrible, but you now how I figured out what men were supposed to be like? My caucasion friends! I went to a nearly all-white school across town, where almost all the parents were married and the dads involved.

    Going over to their houses and hanging out – seeing people eat dinner together, their father’s coming down hard on their dates, driving us around, looking out for us . . . .I didn’t have ‘dad’ exactly, but I sort of gleaned from other families. My wealthy bf’s Dad was (still is) a GREAT guy, husband, father, provider. I didn’t know at the time, but it was a good lesson.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 23, 2010 7:49 pm

      I wish all little fatherless black girls had such a chance. It’s amazing how role models can change a person’s life course…

  13. elise permalink
    June 24, 2010 3:05 pm

    i internet date all the time and it has been a nightmare, pretty much in my experience the guys seem to not want a relatonship really they just want sex. i thought online dating would help me meet other races cos i hardly ever meet them offline, but it has not turned out like that so far. i had to laugh with e-harmony, i joined for 3 months went through the hell of the pages and pages of sign up and had loads of matches only 2 guys sent me a list of questions which i answered and never heard from them again!

    i am getting a bit disheartened to say the least but i am still out there, hoping to meet at least a decent friend. sometimes i wish i was just attracted to black guys in order to get a date! lol

  14. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    June 24, 2010 3:14 pm

    elise :

    i internet date all the time and it has been a nightmare, pretty much in my experience the guys seem to not want a relatonship really they just want sex. i thought online dating would help me meet other races cos i hardly ever meet them offline, but it has not turned out like that so far. i had to laugh with e-harmony, i joined for 3 months went through the hell of the pages and pages of sign up and had loads of matches only 2 guys sent me a list of questions which i answered and never heard from them again!

    i am getting a bit disheartened to say the least but i am still out there, hoping to meet at least a decent friend. sometimes i wish i was just attracted to black guys in order to get a date! lol

    Sorry to hear about your bad luck online dating. Another member mentioned http://www.meetup.com. If I were you, I’d check it out! Keep your head up, he’s out there! 🙂

  15. mmeetoilenoir permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:23 am

    Internet dating? Ugh. Been there, done that. Unsuccessful, to the max. I’m trying it again because hey, why not, I’m in a new place. But…no. I’ve had MUCH better luck just going out into the world and being fab.

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