So upon figuring out that I needed to “get out there” to meet more men, I sought ways to do just that.

I started getting the word out to my friends that I was open to meeting new people, so will you invite me to your gatherings or please send any of your single male friends my way. Also, to further psych myself up, I armed myself with a couple of popular books on dating, including the sensible He’s Just Not That Into You and the very demanding Turn Your Cablight On.

He’s Just Not That Into You was helpful in getting perspective on the inevitable reality of rejection. Of course, it was preemptive reading, given I had no leads, but nevertheless, it provided a logical basis for how not to take rejection too personally but instead to decisively move on to the next possibility. Turn Your Cablight On recommended that I spend 15 hours per week in environments where I would encounter men, whether in a dog park, coffee shop, Home Depot, cooking class, etc. Online dating counted as an “environment,” but only for a maximum of 3 hours a week.

Given my volunteer commitments and a busy social calendar, 15 hours/week wasn’t feasible. I mean, that would work out to be about 2 hours/day, which I don’t have. Or, to put it another way, I didn’t want a guy badly enough to have to radically reshuffle my priorities to make that time (although the writer makes a good point that if one were to spend that kind of time anyway with her honey, why not spend it looking for him?). The idea of online dating, however, was very doable. I DID want to expand my networks enough not to let the (albeit waning) social stigma of this method of meeting people discourage me.

In fact, I have a good friend from high school who met her man from Lavalife (and who would later on give me the unused credits on her account). Also, I had a couple of other close friends on eharmony. However, the service would cost me about $20/month, and I figured that if I couldn’t afford cable, then I certainly wasn’t going to pay for an online dating service.

And then some time in April, I met a friend of Jen, whom (by a set of curious circumstances) I will credit for alerting me to this free service called PlentyofFish. But because I was feeling wary about taking the plunge, I established some criteria and guidelines before getting on the network that would help me manage my involvement and expectations.

I’ll explain what these parameters were in another post.