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Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach is the author of two books of poetry, The Difference Now, and A New Dish, as well as At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. She is currently working on her first novel and resides in Wisconsin with her husband.

Online Dating is for freaks and wierdos

Once I began e-dating a friend of mine became a bit curious, and I suspect, concerned. She had her own preconceived notions about Internet dating. While I usually kept details of my dates to myself, this time I printed off the profile of someone I was going to meet that night and showed it to her. She read it and said, “This guy looks fun… oh look, you both like to do the same things… this guy would be great for you… and he’s cute…” She looked at me, “This guy seems perfectly normal” as if it surprised her.

Everyone knows there are nothing but freaks and weirdoes online, right? If you stop and think about it, the people that are online looking for a mate are regular, busy people who just haven’t bumped into Mr. or Mrs. Right yet. And if you can meet your mate at church or in a grocery store, why can’t you meet them on-line? I’ll tell you from personal experience that my husband and I found that we had hung out at the same places for years, and yet it took the World Wide Web for us to finally meet.

I maneuvered around the online dating world for approximately six months. I met a lot of wonderful, sweet, nice guys. In fact, I was very surprised at the number of great guys out there looking for the same things in life I was. None of us could believe we were doing online dating, and yet now that we’ve done it, we know it’s a great way to meet people and date successfully.

When I started Internet dating I was a marketing director for a large firm and I worked long hours. I had the kind of job that consumed me. Looking back, that was one of the reasons I had not yet met someone. Despite the fact that I loved what I did, I really did not have much of a personal life. Sure, I had friends, lots of them, but I also spent many evenings when I came home and was totally alone. I’ve always been very independent, but I realized it would be nice to have someone to talk to at the end of the day, to share my triumphs and my sorrows, and to one day start a family with. I realized that I wanted a relationship.

I had no false illusions of what having a relationship would mean. To the friend that told me a man would not make me happy I wanted to say, well no kidding. I was in my mid 30s and had a great life; of course I didn’t need a man in order to be happy. I had spent a lot of time on my own and it showed me I could do anything I wanted in life. I was a complete person before I started looking for a mate. And I think this is very important.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love my husband and getting married has transformed my life is so many wonderful ways I actually wake up each day and thank God for this gift. It’s better than I ever thought it could be. But before I met my husband, I took every opportunity to do exactly what I always wanted to do in life. I started working on a book of poetry; I went to college for the first time; I spent time with friends; I read; I painted. I had a strong faith. I never wanted to be one of those people that got married because they felt as if they were missing out on some part of their single life. I enjoyed my single life immensely. My husband and I both did exactly what we wanted when we were single, and we were both complete people when we met. Now, we are both independent, creative people who make the ultimate team. We are truly partners, friends, and lovers. My husband and I talk a lot about meeting the right person at the right time. He’s never met anyone he wanted to marry before me, and if someone would have told either one of us that we would meet our ideal person and marry just one year later, we would have probably laughed in their face. I never believed in the sappy stuff people talked about. I thought it was just an extension of pillow talk. When couples would tell me they “just knew” when they met the right person, I always rolled my eyes and thought they were crazy. But it’s true, I knew with him in a way I never knew with anyone else. He says the same thing; with me it was just different from the beginning.

Now I don’t tell you all this so you’ll think I’m just a sap who wants everyone in the world to get married. Au contraire. I firmly believe there are many people that have no business being married yet, let alone in a relationship. Be a complete person all on your own first. Be brave enough to spend some time by yourself to figure out exactly what you what. Don’t jump from relationship to relationship, and don’t be afraid to walk away from someone if it isn’t totally right. And for goodness sake don’t stay with someone because they are okay “for now.” If you stay in a relationship that isn’t quite right it is only keeping you from the one that is right. Wish them the best, mean it, and move on. Don’t stay with someone that isn’t right just because you think it will magically transform and turn around one day or because you are simply afraid to be alone. Look at it this way, the time you spend alone will help you figure out exactly what type of person would be great for you. And then when that person is finally right in front of you, you’ll know it. You deserve to be happy, not just “okay for now.”

With all that said you’re probably wondering if my e-dating adventure was all fun and games. Well… yes and no. Granted, I met more sweet and wonderful guys than I ever thought existed in the world. But I also met some real goofs. But hey – doesn’t that happen in the “normal” dating world as well?

Look at it this way, the more you date, and the more likely you will meet not only great people but also some not-so-great ones. Several years ago I met a guy (in a bar) that I went out on what I thought would be a fun date. We had planned lunch and then a ride on his boat, but when he picked me up he asked if I’d mind stopping by his house for a quick minute. He said he’d forgotten his jacket. Sure, I said. We walked in, not to his house (as he’d originally said) but to his parent’s house. Then he introduced me as, “This is the girl I told you about,” to his parents. After hearing the “oh, she’s lovely” comments from his parents I realized this guy was reading more into this date than I was. Thankfully we left and had lunch. Then we met up with two of his friends that were also dating. The four of us went out on his boat for a quick spin, and while my date was showing me the sites we could hear the sounds of his two friends madly making out behind us. I tried to give him my best “don’t even think about it” look, when suddenly my date said, “Uh oh.” It turns out the boat had run out of gas. We had to start rowing ourselves back towards the shore, until mercifully a rescue boat came to tow us in. When we got to shore my date acted as if this was the most normal thing ever, so when we docked and he asked me what I wanted to do next, I told him I wanted to go home. On the long drive back to my house he chatted non-stop about his life, and suddenly I heard a beeping sound coming from the car. He continued yakking away until I finally had to ask him what that sound was. He laughed sheepishly, then told me that was the warning sound because the car was about to run out of gas. That would make twice, on the same date. And this was someone I met all on my own.

So you see, you can meet odd people anywhere. The Internet isn’t exclusive to them. I should tell you that despite how awful my date with this man had turned out I was glad I went. At the time I had an on-again, off-again relationship and was seriously wondering if I could date someone else. I realized that despite how this date had went, there were plenty of people in the world looking for the right person, and I owed it to myself to move on from something that wasn’t a healthy situation.

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So you want them to see your inner beauty?

I detest having my picture taken so when it came time to put a picture on my profile I used two that I already had scanned in. This way, I reasoned, I didn’t have to pose for a new one. One of the pictures was my black and white health club ID (taken from a table top camera ? the angle of which made my nose look huge) and the other one was of me in a baseball hat taken from quite a distance away (so you really couldn’t see my face) and so small that there was no way you could blow it up and get a good look at me. When I showed my mom the two pictures she stared at them for a minute and then said, “So you want these guys to see your INNER beauty?”

Profiles with pictures get read and reviewed many more times than profiles without them. It may seem like a superficial thing at first, but most times you will scan through pictures to see which ones you are attracted to before you even read their profile. Pictures give you a sense of who the person is, and not just what they look like. With a picture you can get a “vibe” about the person, get a feel for if they are silly or serious, if they are a neat dresser or an outright slob.

Posting a picture on your profile is an important step, so don’t skip it. I would also recommend waiting until your picture is physically posted on the site before you start emailing people yourself. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, if you’re new to the online dating scene, you will immediately become more comfortable when you see pictures of others who are using the site as well. It gives you a sense that you are not alone in wanting to e-date. You’ll also get an idea of what types of people are out there to meet. While a picture is just a first step, an initial scan of potential dates should immediately put you at ease. You will likely find that the pictures on the site are of regular, seemingly nice, normal people ? like yourself. The first time one of my friends sent me a link to an online dating site I was struck by how many of the guys seemed like people I might meet anywhere. While this is exactly the case, the first time you are using the Internet to date it might seem odd that there are actual regular people behind those smiling photos.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting that you judge a person by his photo alone. My reason for bringing up the picture part of the process is that if seeing the photos of potential dates will put you at ease then that same line of thinking will apply to someone viewing your photo. Imagine reading a profile of someone that seems great, but has no photo. Doesn’t it put you off a bit? Doesn’t it make you feel as if that person is trying to hide something? Of course, that same thing will apply to your profile. Don’t think that someone is going to ask you out by picture alone, but give them the best presentation of yourself by including something they can visualize as they read about you.

Now, having said that, of course it goes without saying that you can’t judge someone by picture alone. But I’ll say this anyway. Use the pictures on someone’s profile as yet another method of finding out about them. They’ll help you get a feel for the person, and in Internet dating this is very important.

One of the emails I received was from a guy that seemed to have a great personality with his emails, but his pictures were not of someone I immediately found attractive. His hair looked fuzzy, he didn’t smile very wide, and he looked much older than his 30 years. Still, he looked like a regular, sweet guy, and he was very polite and funny via email. When we finally exchanged phone numbers he always called exactly when he said he would.

When we finally agreed to meet, I was surprised to find a great looking man in front of me. I was immediately attracted to him. The hair that looked so fuzzy on his picture actually had a nice curl that was shaped in a great cut. In person his smile was sincere and engaging. After spending some time with him I found that his sense of humor was terrific, and that slight smile would often come across as a very cute smirk. In person he looked exactly the age he was, and acted like a gracious and charming guy. We went out for quite a while, and although in the end he wasn’t the right one for me, I wished him the best and think of him fondly. And so it goes, pictures have a certain importance that goes along with the total package you will present to someone.

For the photo you will use on your profile, I would recommend having a friend take a picture of you with the intention of using it especially for your online account. If you don’t have the ability to get a digital picture taken many sites will scan a picture in for you; all you have to do is send it to them. Remember to smile, wear clothes you would normally wear (don’t dress up in an evening gown or a suit if you are normally a tee shirt and jeans person), and make sure the picture is a good likeness. You want to give the viewer a sense of who you are, and also give them a way to easily recognize you if you both decide to meet.

Pictures are an easy way to let someone know exactly what you might be like, so don’t even think about not putting a picture on your profile. I came across some people that wouldn’t put their picture on their profile but gave it “upon request.” This gives the impression that you are too good to put your photo out there, even though you yourself are probably emailing people with photos. I received a couple emails from guys that wanted to know all about me but didn’t have a photo on their profile. I told them that since they could see my pictures (albeit my bad ones) it was only fair that I should see theirs. Someone hiding their photos to me indicates they are hiding from something in general.

Make sure any photo you use is of just you and you alone. I noticed men more than women seemed to have photos with other people in them, and then would say something in the profile like, “I’m the guy in the middle.” One of the guys I corresponded with for a while had a picture with him and his entire family. He pointed out which one he was but I also found my eye wandering to the guy next to him ? his extremely handsome brother. Don’t make a viewer work to figure out which one you are.

Along the same line, do not just take a picture of you and your ex, cut your ex out, and post that as your profile photo. I came across several guys that had a wonderful picture of them happy and smiling and some lovely feminine arm cut out from around them. Tacky. On several cropped photos you could see the remnants of blonde hair from the female that had been cut out of the picture, and outfits that suggested a wedding or other type of special event. One guy even said the picture was of him and an ex but since they were great friends now he thought it was okay to keep the picture of them together in tact. This gave me the impression that if he can’t even separate himself in a photo how can he do that in a relationship. No matter how great you look in all those photos with your ex, don’t use them as your introduction to what could be a potential mate. Have a new picture taken of who you are now, when you’re ready to meet someone new.

Posting your picture with someone else is a bad idea in general, even if the person isn’t someone you used to date. One guy I came across posted a photo with him and three other female friends. This gave me the impression that he had only female friends (and therefore something was wrong with him), he was gay (and hadn’t figured that out yet), he couldn’t get along with guys (and so there was something wrong with him), or that he just couldn’t smile unless surrounded by breasts (and again, something was probably wrong with him.) Internet dating can lend itself to enough questions you might wonder about someone before you meet them, don’t add to it by complicating the present situation if you don’t need to. Keep all friends out of the photo ? no matter who they are.

Some guys I knew put a picture of themselves and a friend’s kid. Another bad idea. Hey, we get that you are trying to show the world how super cool you are and that you love kids, but posing with them just seems too obvious and desperate. Even if you have kids I wouldn’t recommend placing them in the photo with you. There will be plenty of time to have a new flame get acquainted with your children, don’t put them on display in your profile. Even when you’re just proud of your kids and want to show them off – don’t place them in the in the picture with you.

While I don’t have kids yet myself I was very open to dating someone that did. Still, one guy I dated had four very young kids, and while he mentioned this in his emails he did not put them all in the picture. I was glad he didn’t. I could not imagine me scanning through profiles and seeing him and all four kids in one photo. This would have admittedly put me off a bit, and I think I would have been intimidated by even the thought of dating someone with that many young ones. After we dated a while I got a chance to meet all of them, and found them all quite wonderful. He allowed me to get comfortable in our relationship first before even thinking about the prospect of becoming an instant step-mom to such a large brood.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

Wanting a relationship is not the same as being desperate

It was the same discussion that we’d had several times before. I sat down with my friend as her two kids jumped up and down, excited that I had come to visit. While I played with the kids I told her honestly that I hoped someday I could find what she had, a husband that loved her and a beautiful family. Instead of understanding, she told me that I’d find that someday and why didn’t I just be happy to be single. She wished she could be single again, she said. She got married when she was 25, and met her husband several years before that, and remembered her freewheeling single days fondly. Of course, she was a single girl in her 20s, I reminded her. She couldn’t know how I felt because it was a different thing to be dating in your 30s and beyond. When I told her this she rolled her eyes, and said, “You don’t need a man to be happy.”

I have always been an extremely busy and independent woman and was constantly involved in a multitude of activities? so why didn’t I meet the right guy then?

Well I did meet lots of guys over the years. And I did meet them in all the usual places: at work, at church, through friends, and yes, in bars. I dated often enough and had several serious relationships over the years. But for whatever reason none of the people I dated were “the one,” or to put it in a less romantic tone, none of them were simply right for me. Sure, the majority of them were nice, sweet, good people ? I think of many of them fondly and hope they found someone great that they could build a life with.

But as the years went on it was obvious that I wasn’t going to meet my dream man using the methods all my friends used to meet theirs. In fact, while my friends had sympathy that I hadn’t found the right guy yet, I doubted that many of them could actually relate to what it’s like to be a single in your 30s. Many of my friends met their significant others during college or in the years shortly after. They met tons of people during that time when all of us met lots of people ? when we’d just always be in a big group and meeting someone new was common, frequent, and no big deal.

But when you get a bit older, suddenly meeting someone is a bigger deal. For the most part you don’t just hang out in groups like you did before and if you do the majority of people in the group are usually already hooked up with someone else. Even if you’re not looking for marriage right away, dating isn’t as casual in your 30s as it as in your 20s.

When you are in your 20s and you date a guy for a few years to “see where things go” it’s no big deal when you break up because there’s usually another guy right around the corner. But when you’re in your 30s, you’re more discriminating. Besides that, there seems to be more misconceptions and baggage that we take with each new year of our life and into each new relationship. And when you start hitting your 30s, both men and women look at dating as a very different thing. There’s a societal joke that men are trying to hold off finding the right person for as long as they can and women are speeding up every day to find them. Of course, I don’t believe in that, I think both men and woman want to find someone to share their life with ? but you need to not only find the right person but find them at the right time in your life. I was never a girl that was in a rush to get married, and never thought I’d meet someone and marry them within a year. But when you find the right person, sometimes your preconceived notions go out the window.

If you, too, feel you’re in a position where some of your friends don’t seem to quite understand your situation, take heart. One or two of mine didn’t either. Oh sure, they were as supportive as they could be, but when someone meets their husband when they’re 22 how understanding can they really be when you’re 30-something and you’re telling them you’d like a relationship? I was ready to meet someone and settle down at the time most of my friends had been married for years. While I agreed with the particular friend that told me I didn’t need a man to be happy I found it ironic that she’d say that having never been without a relationship.

I didn’t get married until I was 37, and I spent my single years very happy. I’ve always made the most of my life and my circumstances. But if you also have a friend that poo poo’s your desire for a relationship; take it with a grain of salt. One friend of mine got married, had kids, and then suddenly decided it’d be great to be single again. Those types of people are not going to understand the situation you are in, they’ve never lived their life with the possibility of ending it completely alone. Their idea of being alone harks back to their single years when they were in their 20s and didn’t have a date for a few weeks. Even then they probably had a big group of pals to hang with and were never, really, truly alone. They aren’t going to get it. So cut your friends some slack.

And if you’re a hard working single adult you know something else. Your employer probably isn’t going to understand it, either. I’ve worked for a multitude of organizations over the years and the one commonality they had was an inability to understand the single life. There is a perception that all us singles are carefree and can therefore work more hours than our married counterparts. We don’t have kids, so then we don’t have real responsibilities. Right? If there is choice between you working late and your married coworker who has to pick the kids up from daycare, who is going to get the short end?

While the married folks of this world may think that’s only right, I disagree. Again, I think this misconception comes from our coworker’s single years. They remember the girl’s nights or hanging out with the guys for drinks after work, so they’ve convinced themselves that’s what we are doing after work too. If they could live your life for a single day, they’d know what it’s like to work longer than someone else because you are single and don’t have to be home at a certain time, and then to come home alone and have it be too late to even enjoy a nice dinner by yourself.

People seem to misjudge the singles in their 30s and beyond. Many of us have serious obligations; some of us care for parents or grandparents simply because our married siblings don’t have time because they’ve started a new life. This can make you feel very lonely and misunderstood.

While my friends on the whole were sympathetic to my situation, I doubt they completely understood it. Your friends and your employer may not understand your current situation and wants for your life, but I do. I was right where you are. I get it and that’s why I wrote this book.

It is during these times when singles can suddenly feel as if they have to reveal more about their single life than they’d wanted. When our employer asks us to work late or take that overnight trip because our married coworker has their kids to take care of (or to translate, has a life and you don’t) we are made to feel that much more as a misfit of society.

I began to realize that to take charge of my single life, whether I eventually met the right person or not, meant that I would need to defend my free time as stringently as the marrieds I worked with. As a single person I took care of a serious family situation at one point ? moving home with my mom and helping to take care of my grandparents. I raced home to make dinners and spent my off hours with family business. Yet when I told my employer I had to leave at my normal time because I had obligations, he looked at me like I was whining. Suzie had kids to pick up, he’d say, or Joe had his family to go home to. Even with having family obligations of my own my employer viewed me as someone that could sacrifice my life for the good of the company. It was an unwritten rule that when you are married you have something bigger than your job to get home to. Employers seem to understand this. What they don’t understand is when you’re single and you say you’ve got to go simply because you want to live your life.

I say the first step in successful Internet dating is to reclaim your personal life. If your friends give you less than a sympathetic ear because you haven’t met someone or your employer expects you to give your job a bit more than your married coworker just because, stand up for your personal life and be stringent about it. Tell your employer no when he asks you to work late and be set upon it.

When I started Internet dating I worked at least 60 hours a week for an employer who thought my free time was the same as company time. In addition to putting in long hours at work I went to school full-time, but each time there was a big project due and “someone” had to put in the extra time, it came down to me. Even if my boss did spend a few hours extra in the office, he’d view it as time away from the tension at home, not as time away from his life. Inevitably, I spent more time in the office than anyone else. This was both my employer’s fault and my own. Since I was single for so long I also bought into the myth that my time was less important.

This is a point that singles and married people will no doubt argue for decades. As someone that was single for years and is now married, I can tell you first hand that my life as a singleton was just as important as my life now. This is an inequity that singletons need to help their employers change.

The fact remains that if you’re single you don’t need to explain where you’re going when you say you can’t work late or can’t take that overnight trip. If you’re employer balks, find a new one. Eventually they will get it.

In my very early days of Internet dating I approached it as a side job. It was something I did if I “had time.” But the fact remained that with a job that took up 60 or so hours a week, and school that took up another 20, I didn’t have the time. The first couple dates I had were always put on notice, I set up a date with someone only with the understanding that I might have to cancel at the last minute. This made me sound self-absorbed and flighty ? except I didn’t realize it right away.

It wasn’t until one date that I finally got it, and changed my tactics from then on. I had gone on quite a few Internet dates, and yet didn’t quite have what I would call a “system” down yet. I did it sporadically and when I felt I had time. Looking back, I’m certain that my distractedness carried over onto some of the dates.

I had been corresponding with one guy for quite a few weeks, but we couldn’t seem to find a time to meet. That is, I couldn’t seem to find time to squeeze this guy into my busy schedule. We would set up times to meet, and then inevitably I would have to cancel at the last minute. I had great excuses each time ? I had a work project that had just come in and my boss now expected me to give up my weekend to finish it, then because of the project I needed the rest of my free time to work on a paper for school, etc. This guy would simply laugh each time, saying, “You are just one busy girl, aren’t ya?”

Finally, I agreed to meet him for a quick cup of coffee. I told him ahead of time that I was super busy that day and might even have to cancel at the last minute. He merely said, “So what else is new?”

At the coffee shop I hurried in, greeted him quickly, and then ran to order my drink. I sat down breathless and exhausted, and finally said, “Hi, nice to meet you.” This guy was amused at my behavior. He told me point blank that the only reason he’d stuck around for the last few weeks is because he just had to meet this girl that was so busy and important. When our conversation turned to him, I found out he ran his own company, took frequent business trips, and had a pair of teenage daughters to take care of. He was more than successful, and busy, in his own right. Despite having an equal number of obligations as me, he was determined to meet someone special and was willing to spend the time to do it.

I came away from our meeting with a new sense of purpose. I finally saw that my work life was wreaking havoc on my ability to just plain have a life. And more than that, I realized if I didn’t make the necessary changes now I would probably be in the same position ten or twenty years from now ? with a great career but not much else.

Now I’m not saying that you should abandon your career or other interests in pursuit of dating and meeting someone special. I’m saying that if you’ve spent a lot of years wondering why you haven’t met someone yet; take a look at your life. Picture someone great walking through the door today and determine if you’ve got the room to have him or her in your life. If you don’t, change the way you are handing things. Maybe you don’t need to spend so much time at work and be such a perfectionist with cleaning your house, for example.

First of all, don’t let anyone in your life make you feel bad for wanting to be happy. Sure, there are people in this world that jump into relationships too quickly. I know of equal numbers of men and women that can’t seem to be happy unless they are “with someone.” To these people I say, spend some time alone. Lots of it. Figure out what you want, what you like, and then (and only then) start to date someone.

What I’m talking about is the rest of us. The people who are not willing to jump into or hang on to a relationship that isn’t quite right for us. We don’t want to meet someone because we can’t be alone; we want a relationship because sharing our lives with someone would be a great complement to the rest of the world we have built for ourselves. We want someone special, not just someone for right now.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!