Want To Get Married?

If you’re ready to find The One online, try this 7-step plan, which was created by a woman who achieved her dream after dating around for just six months.

By Ann Marsh

sn’t it romantic when two people who weren’t even looking for love crash carts at the grocery store…and end up married? While this does happen, not everyone is so lucky to stumble their way to the altar. If you’re still haunting the organic food section two decades later hoping to meet your husband (like I was), stop wasting your time. There is a better way.

Just over four years ago, I signed onto with the intention of finding my husband. Six months and more than 100 dates later, I did. (As you might have surmised if you just did the math, I was between jobs at the time and had a lot of free time on my
Put in your profile, “When the time is right, I’m eager to get married.” Millions of people feel the same way but are scared to admit it.
hands.) Given the sheer number of dates I went on, out of necessity I developed my own set of guidelines that I observed faithfully to find the right guy. Since then, several of my friends have met their mates online by making use of my experience—and don’t worry, they devoted as little as a half an hour a day to the hunt! So if you’re also serious about getting serious, give these guidelines a try.

Step #1: Post your wish right in your profile
Don’t worry about scaring people off with your honesty. You can work the subject into your personal statement subtly so that you don’t sound like a bounty hunter. You might say, “When the time is right, and I meet the right person, I’m eager to get married and have a family.” That’s almost word-for-word what I put in my profile. Remember that millions of other people feel the same way, but are scared to admit it. (Why is that? I think it’s crazy.) At the largest online dating sites, you can literally scare off millions of people and still be overwhelmed with choices. I received hundreds of e-mails from men who knew I was interested in marriage because I’d said so. Since the subject was already “on the table,” I felt fine talking about it, too.

Step #2: If you want to be courted, let them e-mail you first
I’ve learned that finding a mate requires starting off on the right foot from the very first e-mail. The first person to initiate contact will, in all likelihood, be the pursuer for the duration of the relationship, including marriage. Incredible, but true. In many of my past relationships I was the initiator. But I often ended up in relationships with men who didn’t court me because, simply, they didn’t like me all that much. My husband, on the other hand, is still the pursuer today. He still courts me. And I still have the very first e-mail he sent me.

Step 3: Don’t get physical until you’re sure he’s The One
Whoa! This is a counter-cultural message! You’d never hear the characters on Sex and The City acting this way (if they did, of course, there wouldn’t be a show). But I figured that the fastest way to find your mate online is by dating a lot of people. The only way to date many people simultaneously and not lose your mind is by not getting physical with anyone. That’s because having sex, I learned, floods your system with a neurotransmitter called oxytocin, which bonds you to that person whether you like it or not. But by not bonding prematurely, your head stays clear. Incredibly, I didn’t even kiss anyone (yes, I was tempted). If asked, I would tell a date that I was holding off on anything physical until I knew I was in a committed relationship—one leading to marriage. I don’t know if saying this scared anyone off. If it did, then that was a good thing!

Step 4: Date at least three people at a time
“Dating one person is over-focus. Two is either-or. And three is balance,” says psychologist Pat Allen, author of Getting To I Do. That way, if a seeming prospect suddenly disappears, which happened to me several times, you won’t feel as crushed knowing you’ve got several new dates lined up. Because you aren’t getting physically
The only way to find The One is to date many people simultaneously. And the only way to do that and not lose your mind is by not getting physical with anyone.
involved with anyone, your dates will be much more accepting of your seeing other people should the subject arise. If it does, you can honestly say, “I plan to continue dating several people until I find the right one and am ready to commit.” Stick to it. When dating online, especially, finding a mate is a numbers game. By dating several men at once, I met more men more quickly and, being able to compare them to each other, I felt more sure I’d met the right guy when I did.

Step 5: Give guys a second—and third—try
Many women toss out great prospects because they aren’t swept off their feet instantly. Remember that men who sweep you off your feet right away might be a little too practiced in the art. You’ve got to wonder who else he’s swept away that week. Look for substance. I went out with several men multiple times whom I didn’t feel terribly attracted to initially but liked for one reason or another. It was good discipline. I fell in love with my husband by getting to know him gradually (although, after our first date, I did catch myself telling friends that I might marry him).

Step 6: Once you find him, don’t be afraid to bring up marriage…
I didn’t sleep with my husband until we’d figured out we were on the marriage track. In fact, I brought the subject up right before we got into the sack. One romantic night when things were getting steamy, I gently put on the brakes by mouthing the exact words Pat Allen suggested I use: “Is this an exclusive, committed relationship? And are we headed to marriage? I’m not ready to make love with you or anyone else until it is.” It wasn’t a threat so I didn’t say it that way. It was just the truth. He said yes. Remember, if you’ve followed these guidelines, marriage will already be “on the table,” so it won’t sound like you’ve suddenly started speaking Swahili when raising the subject.

Step 7: …and then bring it up again
I admit it: My husband will tell you I was pushy. But every couple of months, I’d bring up the subject of marriage again. I simply asked him when he was planning to propose. Granted, this is a lot easier when you’re confident your boyfriend is in love with you, and all the previous guidelines help in this regard. Talking about it did take some of the mystery out of the process, but I preferred that to the prospect of dating aimlessly for years. I repeatedly told myself, “You are worth a man who wants you completely. Not just tonight, this week or this month.” Finally, a little over a year after we met, he brought up the subject on his own, when he proposed. We were married two years and five days after our first date.

Freelance writer Ann Marsh has appeared on Oprah to discuss her dating experiences. Her first book, Copy This!, was published in September.
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