For some, online dating offers the best chances of meeting the right match.
ABBY* went online for love because as a 33-year-old single mother, she hadn’t the time nor the inclination to go to bars or clubs to meet a likely partner.
“My child was just two years old and I didn’t have the time to go out at nights like I used to. The night club/bar scene – which was where my friends went to meet eligible men – was not an option for me. So, I went online,” says Abby, explaining that the father of her child – an ex-boyfriend – lived abroad.
That was 10 years ago. “I met many interesting men but when I met Tom, something just clicked. He was American but based in Singapore and we chatted online every night and got married a year later. He loved me and my daughter. We were blissfully married for 10 years before I lost him two years ago,” says Abby, whose daughter is now 15.
Losing her husband at 45 was devastating and Abby thought that she’d never again be able to find someone she could connect to.
“I was sad and lonely for a long while. Then, just a few months back a friend suggested I go online again, seeing how depressed I was. After a few months of him persuading me, I went online again. I was not looking for a husband or to find someone to date. I just want an emotional connection. I have always found it easy to connect with people online ... to open up to strangers who somehow seem to understand me. I have met a few nice men and I must admit it is nice to be able to feel happy again. Who knows what will happen?” she says.
Despite the anonymity of online connections, Abby says she feels comfortable meeting and sussing out men via the Internet.
“I find it a safe place. Sure, there are scammers out there too. I’ve met a couple of men who actually tried to ‘borrow’ money from me for so-called emergencies. I’m no spring chicken so I did realise that I was being taken for a ride and gave them a piece of my mind. But there are some genuinely nice men, too,” says Abby.
Getting back into the dating game for those who find themselves single again later in life isn’t easy. Among other issues, the dating pool is significantly smaller – where does one meet single, eligible men in their 40s or 50s?
“On top of that,” points out Abby, “how many men want to marry into a family? I come with a daughter. Anyone who wants to date me has to love my daughter too.”
While Abby is comfortable to seek companionship online, Sarah, 41, is a little more tentative and prefers to dip her toe in the dating pool slowly and in the more traditional way. She has only ever dated one man her entire life – the one she met in university and ended up marrying. So,when her best friends suggested she started dating again after her divorce two years ago, Sarah was very hesitant.
“My recollection of dating was hazy ... movies, late night suppers, house parties that went on for days. What do people do on dates these days? I have two children and a dog and a job that consumes me now ... do I even have the time and energy to go dating? Do I want to go through it all again?” Sarah had asked herself.
Her friends were more than willing to pair her up with single men they know and think she’d hit it off with. But Sarah wasn’t so convinced.
“There are moments when I think it might be nice to go out, meet someone and have a nice night out. Sometimes, I even think how nice it would be to have someone to share my life with ... not to get married, but to go out for dinners and talk about things with.
“But at other times, it seems like too much trouble. After all, I’d just gotten out of a difficult relationship. I rather like having time to myself and for myself and my childen,” relates Sarah, an accountant who works in Kuala Lumpur.
But she relented and has gone on a few dates her friends had set up, but they didn’t work out.
“Then came candidate number three – a single father who, like me, was entering this dating game with caution. He was really nice and we actually had several nice dinner dates. We didn’t have a lot in common but had plenty to talk about. But he was busy with his young daughter – scheduling as many visits with her as he could negotiate with his ex-wife and so, our ‘dates’ have been rather infrequent. To be frank, I like that we have our own lives to lead and meet up only occasionally. At least, he seems safe and sane and the friendship is natural,” says Sarah.
* All names have been changed.
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Going online to meet people offline