expert online series

Trish McDermott from Match.com
on Love Online

Trish McDermott is Vice President of Romance of www.Match.com. She was interviewed for Divorce Central by Terry Hillman, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Surviving Divorce.
McDermott: Hi...thanks for the invite.
Moderator: Trish, can you tell us a little about Match.com?
McDermott: Sure....we're a leading online matchmaking site. To give you a sense of our numbers we've registered over 2.5 million single people to date. Really we are a community of single people.
Moderator: Now, what kind of person uses a service like Match.com?
McDermott: Interestingly...all kinds of people. The one thing they have in common is that they are usually single. Some have never been married, some are separated or divorced. Ages go from 18 to 70. All ethnicities, global (though most in the US), etc.
Moderator: Okay. Let's get down to the question of the night. Just how safe is meeting dates online?
McDermott: Well, really, you have to say.....how safe is dating in general? And the answer is that dating is not a risk-free activity.
Moderator: True, but you can't see the person you're talking to online.
McDermott: The upside of online dating is that on a site like Match.Com you have anonymity. So, for as long as you want to protect all of your personal information, you can. Which means you can take a lot of time getting to know someone and finding out who they are, what they want, and watching for consistency. Really learning to trust someone before giving them any info about you...even your name.
Moderator: I think a lot of people that come to Divorce Central have a hard time trusting anyone!
McDermott: But this is still dating and you must proceed with caution. We do give a lot of dating advice on our site and a lot of it is safety related.

Moderator: What are some tips to make sure you're safe?
McDermott: You're never safe, not even if you meet a nice man at church, or you aunt fixes you up with a nice woman...So you have to use a lot of caution. I'm not saying this to scare people, but to give them the tools they need to suceed. However, there are a lot of things you can do to be safer. Like, most importantly, trust your instincts. If you feel that something just isn't right, you have to honor that feeling and move on. The beauty of the Internet is there are millions of single peole out there, so never invest your time or engery in anthing that doesnt' feel right. And after that, date smart.
Moderator: Now, how about the effectiveness of meeting online? Do you have any stats on success rate?

McDermott: Well, we estimate that more than 300,000 of our members left our site after findng a relationship. We know that 1,600 members have gotten married. More importantly, people are making friends, and going out on dates, and flirting and having a lot of fun again. Romance, in all it's many forms is a great thing to have in our lives.
Moderator: Here, here! What are some of the ways people can enter the dating scene online, at match.com and elsewhere? Okay, so what's the best way to begin?
McDermott: You can do a lot of things on match.com besides just matching..you can chat, and consult with dating experts, attend member events and browse outside of your geographic area. You can even check to see if your astrological info is compatible with someone elses.
Moderator: Should a person just start a conversation?
McDermott: , it's different for everyone. If you feel comfortable just jumping right in....then jump! If you want to hold back, and wait for someone to contact you that's ok, but life is short, and I do encourage people to take some romantic risks.
Moderator: Now assuming someone wants to use a service like yours, what's the best way to make their "profile" stand out?
McDermott: Good question! Just like how in the off-line world you make a first impression when meeting someone in the online world, your profile, or first email, is your first impression and it's important to get it right. There's the no brainer stuff, like run your spell check and don't fill your profile with negative content, or complain about your life applies. But even more important, show us some style, make us smile, intrigue us. Show that you have a sense of humor, and that you have an interesting life, tell a story that makes us want to knw more about you. The more fun you have, the more positive you will come across. In general, most of us love fun loving, happy, hopeful people.
Moderator: That's tough for some just after divorce.
McDermott: I don't think so. Even if you aren't entirely upbeat about love and romance..you may still love your job, or your kids.....or have big, exciting dreams, you are an exciting, decent, funny, fun-loving person and you need to find that place in yourself, even if you had a miserable end to your marriage...it's still there.
Moderator: Should people mention they are recently divorced right up front?
McDermott: I don't think so. You don't need to hide it, but it's not all that important and shouldn't be part of the initial info you supply. Think about meeting someone at a cocktail party....in those first few sentences, you probably wouldn't mention a recent divorce.
Moderator: If there are any questions from the audience, please ask them now.
Jack: What about dating outside your geographic area?
McDermott: : Depends Jack....some people are looking for a soul mate, and will look the world over...others want him or her to live down the block.
Sue: Trish, do I need to mention the fact that I have children?
McDermott: Yes Sue, because this is a big part of who you are. You don't want a man in your life who isn't fully on bored with the idea of kids. Better to find out right now, as it saves everyone a lot of time, and a lot of potential heartache.
Sue: In that case of course my divorce would come up in the beginning.
McDermott: Understood, but you don't have to say that you are recently divorced. You can just say that you're a single mom with 2 kids. When you mention your divorce right away, you're making this new person in your life think about your ex. What you want him/her to do is think about you....there will be time later to discuss the ex.
beentheredonethat: What about married people who use the net to have affairs --how can you ferret them out?
McDermott: Good question. You can't always tell, just like you can't always tell in the off-line world. Many men and women have been fooled by married people long before the Internet came around...So, I wouldn't suggest you worry too much about this, still you should always be careful. So...Take your time, Make sure to get a home number and to call this person there.
beentheredonethat: But I have known several people who have made up phoney online identities.
McDermott: That happens online alot, but it doesn't happen a lot on sites like Match.Com where people are using the tools of the internet to form relationships that will live and thrive offline. Still, be careful, pay attention, honor your gut feelings, get a home phone number, meet members of someone's family, and just so you are clear....we are a very large site with very few reported problems. One thing you must be very careful about online is where you park yourself. Just like there are bars in the off line world you would never set foot in, there are a lot of communities online that may not attract the type of person you hope to meet. Not really....just use common sense. Pick a site that attracts like minded people. Move slowly. Look for consistency over time. But really, it isn't a dark, evil place out there.......there are so many wonderful people online, I hate that the few bad apples make everyone so concerned.
Moderator: Have you ever dated anyone you met online yourself?
McDermott: : I actually met...a Doctor! And we dated for 2.5 years and just recently broke up due to my doc's new job being 1,000 miles away. It was a great experience and we are like family now....very dear friends.
Tom: Trish, aside from match.com, are there any communities you like --perhaps ones not even focused on dating?
McDermott: Well, if I was a man, I might want to visit some women focused sites....you know iVillage, women.com, etc. just to see what women online are thinking , feeling, saying..etc.
Tom: : I have met some very intense people in stock and investment chat rooms and on financial bulletin boards --strange but true.
Moderator: Tom, while checking out posts on a stock how do you break in with a social question?
Tom: it just happens, people start discussing their philosophy of life, their feelings about risk --about the future. Tired, do you have custody issues involved here?
McDermott: Interesting Tom....so you get to know about someone in this sort of roundabout way....you know, are they big risk takers, or conservative. : It's always a good idea to socialize around a topic that is interesting or meaningful to you...as you are likely to find like-minded people this way. But why not go to a dating site where you can specify what you want...what age, ethnicity, religion, region...desire to have kids, etc.? mean't to say....why not go to....Our people make us different, and afterall in the end, that is the real value of any dating site.
Moderator: Trish, do you see cyberspace as changing the nature of courting, of falling in love?
McDermott: Yes! In big ways. Online dating is reversing the getting-to-know-you process. So now we get to know someone from the inside out. So rather than height or hair color being the first thing we connect with. It is life goals, or history, hopes for the future, communication style. And these attributes, rather than how thin you are or the color of your hair, are more meaningful in a relationship.....hair color doesn't get you through the hard times. You certainly need to have real-world chemistry, and some people who connect online don't find that chemistry off-line. But no risk means no reward. Me? I'll take the chance.
Moderator: How long should you be meeting online before meeting in the real world?
McDermott: I can't really be specific other than to say guard your anonymity, meet in a public place, tell friends about your meeting, and don't invite someone into your home. Most important is your gut feeling, which isn't specific and is hard to quantify. But it should always be honored. Maybe we need to just slow down a little and connect with that wise little inner voice we have.....but if you're looking for a guarantee of safety, you won't find it....mabye it means you aren't ready to date.

When you ask older people to look back on their lives and tell you what they regret, often they will tell you that it ins't their mistakes or failures they most regret, but the risks they were afraid to take. Life requires risk. And so does love. It doesn't matter who you love, or where you meet this person, or how many people you must date before you find the right one. What matters is that you don't shut down, and give up, and live a fear-based romantic life. Make your best choices, proceed with care....but take the leap.......life is short.

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