Finding Love Online

While there’s a lot I could personally contribute to this topic, today I want to share an excellent online resource I found recently.

This is a good summary of options, issues, warnings and other factors to take into account when venturing online looking for love, connection or fun. Can you really find true love online? looks at how online dating sites compare, how to stay safe online, case studies: who’s dating online? and dating scams: what you need to know. Although it’s aimed at an Australian audience a lot of the information is universal.

Let’s look firstly at the issue of using a paid site versus using a free site.

There are so many varied opinions about this, and I acknowledge my own bias, as I have only ever used free sites or apps like OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish – noting that both of these offer paid options as well. The Choice article compares apps/sites and their paid membership rates, but please also be aware that many sites are syndicated or owned by the same corporations. Dating is big business in every country these days!

It’s noteworthy that Choice mentions the many dodgy privacy policies and scams associated with online dating as a business.

Not long ago I was confronted with a 20-screen long piece of legalese jibberish on a ‘dating’ site that neglected to tell me the relevant facts – that this site would use my data (that means my photos, name and text) on any sites they co-own, without informing me of the names or demographic of these sites.

What this meant in practice is that my jaunty, brief profile on a ‘cougar’ site was syndicated to at least 25 seedy, NSA sex and specialist kink sites (eg dogging and married guys seeking sex sites). This is misleading and unethical for all concerned as users of the sites don’t often realise that profiles are syndicated, so expect that I’d be into the same thing they’re looking for. I’d like to say beware of the small print, but in this case the company was plain dishonest.

The other thing to beware of is that MOST dating sites make it extremely hard to take down your profile or exit the site. Many don’t allow you to quit from a mobile phone – they require you to log on via a desktop computer and access a special section, scroll down two-thirds of the page, look for the magic button and blow on it three times, then proceed in Spanish! While this may be a slight exaggeration, it’s true that getting rid of your profile can be stressful and inconvenient. You may have to even email the company and politely request that they remove your profile.

My guess is that a lot of people don’t bother, and so empty, unattended profiles litter cyberspace Datingland like so many ghosts of possibility.

The other obvious warning that Choice offers is to beware of scams. Romance scams are rife on the bigger sites but these days they work pretty hard to remove African scammers, though it’s harder to detect catfishers or predators. This is a good site to browse for an idea of how Nigerian scammers work – reading through this lady’s material is depressing and hilarious in equal measure!

Here is a sobering quote from the Choice article:

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been investigating online scammers who use dating sites and romance services as a feeding ground. In 2017 alone, Australians lost $42 million to these shysters – although it could be even more as many people are too embarrassed to report losses.

How to stay safe online

Even seasoned daters like myself (I was once an online dating virgin!) need reminders every now and then to keep ourselves safe and sensible. This story recounted my lucky escape from a dating site sexual predator, and though I’ve had some unpleasant experiences, I’m glad to say it’s never got worse than that.

Here is a summary of what Choice recommends:

  • Read terms and conditions so you know what you’re signing up to and how much it will cost.
  • Set reminders in your phone or diary to cancel your subscription to avoid inadvertently rolling over for a further term.
  • Never include personal information such as your real name, workplace, work or home address, phone number or birthday, in your profile.
  • Do a reverse Google image search on photos of profiles of people you’re interested in to check for authenticity.
  • When you meet somebody for the first time, pick a public place, tell a friend where you’re going and keep the first meeting brief and inexpensive, such as grabbing a cup of coffee.
  • Don’t let somebody new pick you up or drop you at your home.
  • Never send money to someone you’ve only ever contacted online or over the phone.

In addition I would recommend reading my list of dating tips.

Clientele on dating sites

In terms of dating site demographics, it varies a lot in every country and sometimes in regional areas like states and territories. What I find in my own area is unlikely to apply in yours, so join up and see for yourself.

Another thing to note is that clientele is a moving feast – when I re-joined POF recently, I found the guys in my searchable bracket were vastly different types from my experience 3 years ago, when I was last a member. I met my beloved on POF, something I’d never have conceived was possible. It goes to show that dating is totally unpredictable. You can read the story about my lucky break here.

Larger cities have more options, and some sites or apps just don’t exist in countries like Australia, or their membership is ridiculously small. I’ve found most dating sites in my city have less than 50 matches, and some sites have a lot fewer.

Case studies – read up, bigtime

While this Choice article only includes 4 case studies from real people, the internet is a great place to find people’s stories about dating. Sites like mine, and many others by bloggers who focus on dating, sex and relationships can be found on WordPress or just by searching topics on Google.

If you’re new here having a look at who comments on my posts and you’ll see that many of us form a community of like-minded, supportive bloggers. Thank goodness for my blogging mates – I’d be lost without them! Finding solace, understanding and shared experiences with other people who write about their love lives online can keep you sane, as well as entertained.

Here are some varied quotes from the case study folks mentioned:

Verdict: “It’s been more positive than negative. It’s a numbers game – and good timing!”

Verdict: “It’s a great way to meet people outside your social circle.”

Recommendations: “OkCupid was the best for meeting like-minded people. Tinder was the best for sheer random volume.”

“I think they are actually a brilliant way to meet and connect with people you wouldn’t usually. It’s great to keep chatting on the app [or site] until you’re sure of a connection and then you can transfer to [phone] and then in person.”

One Year On – What Happens When You Get A Dating App on a Whim?

This post was written exactly a year ago, and wow, what a journey I’ve had! Over this time I’ve explored, talked, pondered and adjusted my definition of a cougar, my ideas about relationships, and of course my opinions about the world of online dating.

So much has changed on a personal level for me, but so much remains the same in the common politics, themes, experiences and frustrations of digital dating as a way to meet people and form relationships.

I’m thrilled and honoured to welcome my 335th follower, and once again say thank you to the people who’ve read an article, story for two (or all!) and contributed their thoughts through personal feedback or comments. I love to read other people’s experiences and the best comments, for me, are those that give a little as well as observe from a distance.

Thank you everyone for almost 20,000 views from almost 5,500 people (visitors) and almost 1500 likes during this debut year.

So, what happens when you plunge headfirst into online dating, and download a dating app?


If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself in a bizarre new world of dickpics, sexting, hook-ups, friends-with-benefits, MILFs and the general collapse of what ‘dating’ used to be like.

And, you’ll probably be labelled a cougar, even if you don’t like younger men!
I came to embrace my ‘cougar’ self as a tongue-in-cheek recognition of the way society pigeonholes women over 35.

Apart from being a romp through cougarland, this blog is unashamedly about reclaiming my midlife sexuality, post-motherhood.

The tumultuous ‘dating and mating’ rollercoaster forced me to grow and develop as I figured out what I like, what I don’t like, and ultimately what I want in this second half of my life.

In fact, I now see the word ‘cougar’ as a rebellious take on the outdated, patriarchal notion that women (unlike men) have a use-by date defined by their reproductive abilities, their appearance, their value according to men, and their clickability or appeal on social and mainstream media.

I’d even go as far as declaring that to be a cougar you can be a feisty, forthright and sexually empowered woman of any age – you don’t have to be attracted to younger men. You don’t even have to date men! You can date whoever you like!

At first, the cougar stereotype did not sit easily with me. I was a slightly awkward, intense and naiive online dating virgin.

But though I may have been innocent in that regard, I was certain that I would be no young man’s teacher, experimental sex plaything or time filler. If they were crazy enough to want me, they had to take me on my terms – and that included (ideally) having a strong intellectual bond, as well as a certain openness or lack of pretension.

But right back at the start, to use a quaint Aussie phrase, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.

Picture This – The Defining Moment

Two workmates huddling intently over a smartphone screen in a tiny, steamed-up Asian diner during our lunchbreak. The air filled with the delicious aromas of Laksa and Pad Thai, smoky with quick wok frying for the throng of hungry customers.

“Go on,” she said. “It’s fun – and you’ll never meet anyone sitting at home.”

The dating app in question was called Skout and it changed my life. My friend persuaded me to install it on my phone, and from there, it was an instant whoosh of energy on that exhilarating joyride to somewhere new.

At first flirting came as naturally to me as pedalling the cobwebbed mountain bike in my shed, after a good decade of being ignored.

But within a very short time in this new world – exciting, ego-boosting but also crushing and disturbing – I needed to express what I was experiencing, to try to make sense of it.

No longer wide-eyed and youthful, I wasn’t used to being single. I was a dating ingénue.
I needed to relieve myself of the weight of strange experiences crowding my head, and to listen to the voice that said, ‘What the fuck?’ (And later, the smaller voice that said, ‘What the actual fuck?!’)

Writing it all down is natural for me but I also debrief with close friends, trying to figure out what I feel and get some insight into other people’s motivations or behaviour.

As time has gone on, I’ve continued this habit, mainly because I need to express and make sense of my experiences but increasingly, as this blog has grown and reached more people in the same position, because I love to share and read people’s reactions and advice.

As far as the WordPress community goes, blogging about dating, sex and relationships is great fun and these bloggers form an extremely supportive community.

The internet is an unpredictable space where almost anything goes. Social norms might fluctuate; vitriol and prejudice may be openly on display – but I prefer to remember that, underneath, we are all human. How we behave online is a topic I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

There Are Some Very Rude People Online

The things people say to others online, when they are tucked up on the couch with their phone or sitting safely behind a keyboard and screen half way across the country (or the world,) really are incredible.

I reckon keyboard warriors are the bane of our modern world. And goddess help you if you are a woman on a dating site who says no, sorry you’re not my type. Or that you’re not interested. Or if you refuse to send a pic of your naked boobies, or worse, a pussy pic. FFS people – are you serious? How can you go from ‘Hi’ and polite chit-chat to ‘Will you send me a pic of your boobs?’

I like what sista blogger Fabulous and Forty has to say on this topic, especially what she terms FUCKBOYS.

They are probably the most prominent population on dating sites, equally matched by those desperate to find a partner before they lose all of their hair, or get even more unattractive or just plain old. Straight talking yes, but it’s scary out there.

Take a deep breath and prepare for the great variation of humanity if you are venturing online as a woman in the 21st Century. Brace yourself for dick pics, insults, insistent requests for nude photos, and best of all, ghosting.

These are all topics I love to explore, so if you haven’t had a good look in the sidebar of topics and stories I’ve covered, head over there now for some fun!