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"I'm a Single Mom Who Survived Online Dating"

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I was always a single parent, even when married. When he left, I entered the Online Dating World.

A friend found love online, so I signed up. My inboxes filled with suitors, but I started to think my pal was an exception.

There were doozies: The dude with the boat named Tequila, who shrink-wrapped it and lived inside all winter. It made him feel like a plant in a greenhouse, he said.

Then there was the one who communicated only via haiku. He disappeared on a hiking trip in Sri Lanka, then sent one final poem sharing that the trip taught him he was gay.

There was this cool organic farmer I liked. But he started to get weirdly short-tempered. He demanded to know why I couldn't be more like the women he fantasized about—namely, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. I distanced myself, but he kept contacting me online. I'd been careful not to reveal my address. He called late one night to say he knew where I lived and where my daughter went to school. That's when it hit me: Online dating had put my child in danger. I got an order of protection, but was so freaked I moved.

I took a long hiatus, then did background checks before dates. I enlisted my teenage daughter's help in weeding out guys. It was a lot of fun because we often had the same opinions. Motorcycle-lovers usually scored the green light. On the guy posing with a 50-pound striped bass, she asked, “What is he trying to prove?” but I gave him a pass.

I'm now in a solid relationship. I didn't want to meet until I got to know him—and then I was hooked, so I worried he wouldn't think I was as pretty as my pic. I was afraid if we met, the magic would be lost. Finally, I mentioned I'd be walking my dog, on this street, at this time, if, you know, he was in the area. He showed, and was even sweeter than I expected. I fell in love with his laugh, right there on that corner. We're taking it slow. When you're young, you're impulsive: You meet, fall, move in. I know better now. My daughter likes him because he makes me happy. Oh, and the Harley doesn't hurt.