Do You Need An Online Dating Buddy?

At certain points, having a pal present when you’re perusing profiles can up your odds of snagging a soul mate. Here, five moments to watch for...

By Katherine Dykstra

f you’re like most online daters, you tend to surf the sites solo—just you and your computer, sifting through potential prospects. Which is all well and good, most of the
Just as you’ll flirt more at a party when there’s a good pal by your side, having a friend present when you log on can do wonders.
time. But in the same way you might be more apt to flirt with someone at a party or bar when there’s a close friend at your side egging you on, having a pal present when you log on can do wonders for your online dating life as well. Whether you meet your closest chum at a coffee shop with laptops in tow, invite a bunch to your abode where you can open a bottle of wine and log on, or meet up virtually via email or on the phone, here are five times you’ll be glad you’ve enlisted an online-dating ally. (Note: If your pal’s doing online dating as well, there will be mutual benefits!)

1. When you’re tempted to wink—but worry about rejection
Confession: Two months ago, I put up my first online dating profile. I giggled as I composed it and then giddily perused the men on the other end. That lasted one evening, and then my profile sat there... untouched... for weeks. Oh, I got a couple winks and an email or two, but the thought of responding gave me butterflies, to say nothing about putting my ego on the line and reaching out to anyone myself. Enter my friend Beth. I showed her my profile and one guy in particular who had caught my eye. She asked why I hadn’t winked. “What if he doesn’t like me?” I said pathetically. “Now, why wouldn’t he like you?” she asked. And before I could answer, she reached out and — click — winked at him for me. I was horrified... until the guy emailed me back.

2. Immediately after you’ve suffered an ego blow
So you did it: You squirreled up your courage and contacted the person you’re certain is your soul mate. But now it’s been hours, days, a whole week and... nothing. At this point, you’ve got two choices: You can sit and stew about it all by your lonesome, or you can ring a friend, relay the story, and listen to all the reasons you probably don’t want to be with the dud anyway.

“Rejection is always handled better if you have a friend there to help you absorb the blow,” says Cyrena Gordon of Atlanta, GA, who signed up for online dating along with a friend who didn’t want to try it alone. “My friend and I could talk on the phone about it any hour of the day. There was this one guy whom my friend was really into but he never emailed her back and she was crushed. I made jokes to help her brush it off.” This encouraged her friend to keep looking at other guys and going out on
If a profile ignites your interest but you’re too shy to make a move, ask your friends for their two cents. Odds are, they’ll tell you to go for it!
dates, and, Cyrena adds, “She’s now exclusively dating someone!”

3. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options
Finding a match among millions of profiles is daunting, to say the least—which is exactly why your friends’ valued viewpoints could serve you well when you’re mulling over “Could this one be The One?” Case in point: Laura of Hoboken, NJ, was recently trolling for prospects online along with some pals. “My friends were all checking out who’d winked at and emailed me. Together we decided which guys were worth writing back and which ones weren’t,” she says. “It’s funny how much we value and take into account our friends’ opinions. If one of my friends says a guy is cute, then I will be more inclined to wink at him or go out with him. If she thinks he is sketchy, then I will most likely ignore him.”

4. When you swear you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities
Ever think someone great for you is out there... you just haven’t come across their profile yet? Yet another opportune time to enlist another set of eyes in your search. (Note: Unlike the other advice in this article, this only works if your pal is doing online dating as well.) Kim of Annapolis, MD, always keeps her eyes peeled online not only for guys she likes, but for men she thinks her friend will dig. “My friend and I have very different types as far as what we find attractive, so it's a good system for us because we wouldn't ever compete,” she explains. “I know her type and she knows mine, so when we're looking for our own dates, often someone will pop up in a search that I wouldn't be interested in but I know immediately he might be right for her, and vice versa. So we share the wealth.”

5. When you’re feeling bored or burned out
Picture this: You, alone at your computer. Yawn. Now picture this: You, surrounded by friends (and a couple of uncorked bottles of wine) at your computer. Hmm, no contest. It’s no wonder, then, that by making online dating a fun social event, you’ll look forward to it and log on more often—and thus up your chances of finding The One.

“Online dating is a great way to bond with those who know you and understand you,” says Eric Sasson of Brooklyn, NY. “I forward profiles to my friends when I need a second opinion. It so often feels like a crap shoot that if I have a friend to guide me through the murky waters, I find I have much more fun and dating success.”

Katherine Dykstra is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Post, Time Out New York, Fodor's Travel Guides and Redbook.
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