Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:51 am

“It started with a smile emoji.” This is how single mom, Chloe*, met her fiancé after a few months of navigating the online dating scene…

But her happy ending didn’t come easy. Online dating isn’t as simple as setting up a profile, and sifting through a bus load of eligible bachelors. If only that were true!

Chloe had to learn to identify the “frogs” before she found her prince. While the Grimm brothers’ fairy-tale tells of a princess who befriends a frog that is eventually transformed into a handsome prince, in real-life sometimes frogs are just frogs.

So how do you tell the difference between the dead-end frogs, and the ones that could turn out to be your Prince Charming?

As a single mom, Chloe’s priority was the safety of herself and her child. While she still wanted to ‘get out there’ and meet Mr Right, she knew that being cautious was the way to go.

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Here are her tips on identifying the “frogs” before you date them, and finding your Mr/Mrs ‘happily ever after’ online.

1.     Pick your “ponds” carefully

If you’re searching for “Prince Charming” online, make sure you pick your ‘ponds’ carefully. Chloe suggests using a paid-for online dating platform if you’re really serious about finding someone that’s interested in a long-term relationship. “Paying for a service means that they are likely to be more ‘serious’ about dating. They’re not just in it for a quick fling,” says Chloe. There are a number of platforms available, so do some research and identify one that suits your needs.

Copyright : Andriy Popov (123rf.com)

2.     Watch out for frogs that want to jump into a ‘private’ pond too quickly

“Begin your conversations on the online dating platform. Most of them have a ‘chat’ option. Don’t move over to Facebook messenger or WhatsApp too quickly,” advises Chloe. “You want to try to suss out the situation before they get to know you too personally. You don’t want to be sharing info about where you live or work too early in the conversation, or any pics of your family or kids.”

The first time you meet in person should be in a public space, and preferably in a pressure-free situation. Meet for a take-away (social distanced) coffee in your lunch break. That way, you’ve got an ‘out’ if you need to leave fast.

Watch how he treats the staff behind the counter, and whether or not he criticises what you order. A brief meeting like this will help you decide whether or not to pursue another meet-up, or whether you’re just wasting your time.

3.     Watch out for raucous toads

These are the guys that can’t stop talking about themselves. The ones that show very little interest in anything that you’ve got to say, and always manage to steer the conversation towards their ‘amazing life achievements,’ their impressive physique, or their spectacular golf game. You’ll spot them pretty quickly during your initial chats, so don’t waste your time trying to find their ‘deeper’ characteristics. There aren’t any.

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4.     Watch out for the slimy ones

“If they start getting into the sexual side of things right from the start, that’s a definite warning sign,” says Chloe. “When the innuendos get more and more explicit, and you can tell that there’s really only one thing they are after, hit the delete button and block them immediately. You won’t find Prince Charming there.”

5.     Look for the ones that look like you

“If you want to find a good match, look for the profiles who share similar values to you,” says Chloe. Read through their biographies, and see which ones make you smile.

Chloe’s fairy-tale ending began with a simple smiley-face emoji. She received a “smile” from a potential match, so she responded with a “smile”. Their conversation began slowly, and they really got to know each other before moving over to WhatsApp messaging.

It took another few weeks of back and forth before Chloe was comfortable enough to meet him in person. The fact that he respected her boundaries and was similarly cautious was a “good sign”, says Chloe.

“Both of us have a child from previous relationships, and it was really important for us not to bring anyone else into our lives unless we were really sure that it could be a long-term thing. We dated for a few months before we eventually introduced our kids. Thankfully, they got along immediately and now they behave like brother and sister.”

Chloe and her “Prince Charming” got engaged over the lockdown period in South Africa, and are now planning their wedding for late next year.