He is a firefighter. She is an attorney. Both have been married twice and are seasoned vets of online dating. Michelle Y. Talbert of Washington, D.C., and Ricardo Kingsbury of Maryland didn’t waste time heating things up when they met online earlier this year, a week before Valentine’s Day. The attractive pair loved, laughed and parted ways by Easter. Lucky for all of you, they came together long enough to write a book, Don't Do What We Did! A Conversation About Online Dating with an Ex-Not-Quite Couple Who Met on the Internet, their self-published guide to online dating. It’s a conversation between Talbert and Kingsbury, who together have nearly 20 years of off-and-on online dating experience. Don’t Do What We Did! is also interwoven with anecdotes about their own relationship and includes interviews and stories from friends and loved ones who also tried cyberdating. EBONY.com caught up with Talbert and Kingsbury to find out more about looking for love online.
EBONY.com: How do you determine which dating site might work best for you?
Ricardo: You need to determine what you’re looking for, because there are sites that are strictly for sex and hookups, and sites that promote long-term or love relationships. Then there are sites that cater to race or religion, if that is something that is important to you.
Michelle: There are also sites that cater to LGBT community members. So logistically, you need to understand what you’re looking for. Then, once you narrow that down, determine whether you want to spend money. There are free sites and there are paid sites; your budget and how long you think you’ll be online can impact that choice. Finally, people who live in certain geographic areas may need to find sites that have people who are located near them, if they want to actually meet people in person.
EBONY.com: People assume that if you do online dating you’re a "loser", nobody wants you or you’re desperate for a date. What would you say?
Ricardo: I strongly disagree. Actually, I did think that way a little in the beginning until I logged on and saw some of the same people online I was meeting in the clubs and in the grocery stores. I think it was more of a taboo, but in the past three years or so it’s become more accepted. There are definitely attractive and well-established people online. I don’t think anyone thinks you’re a loser because you’re dating online. In fact, more and more of my friends have asked me to help them create profiles.
Michelle: I think people still feel a little funny if they think their colleagues or clients may see them online. To those concerns, I say, for them to see you, they have to be online as well! I’ve found that people may not advertise they are dating online, but once they are involved in a relationship, they are quite happy to share with everyone they met online.
EBONY.com: How much of your true self do you reveal on a dating site, and how soon?
Ricardo: I don’t think you should reveal too much in your profile, but just enough to make someone want to get to know you better. Even after first contact, you shouldn’t reveal everything via online communication. Too much information too soon can hurt the possibility of letting the person get to know you before you give [him or her] all of the ins and outs of your life story. Things should unfold honestly but naturally.
Michelle: There’s the opportunity to share a bit about yourself in your profile summary or bio. It’s important to understand that the communication is unilateral and doesn’t provide for tone, such as a dry sense of humor or sarcasm, so it’s important to show your personality but be mindful that your words are open to interpretation. I think it’s best to keep the profile information to a minimum and then interact with people on a case-by-case basis, sharing information mutually, conversationally.
EBONY.com: Should you use a picture? Some folks are afraid people they know will see them.
Ricardo: Unless you have something to hide, why wouldn’t you want to use your picture? Typically, if I don’t see a picture, I think that person is married, has something to hide or is otherwise involved.
Michelle: Like I said earlier, if people are seeing your picture, it’s because they’re online, too! I’ve met people who have top-secret clearances and use their pictures, and others who don’t. I’ve had people say that if I message them, they will send me a picture. My profile blocks people who don’t have pictures. I just feel that if you can’t put your picture up on the site, then I’m not the person for you. I do believe that most people who don’t have pictures up are likely married or have interacted