Why I started NoLongerLonely
As a mental health consumer who has been no stranger to loneliness I know there are a lot of people out there with a mental illness who needs someone to talk to, someone to spend time with, someone to understand him or her, and ultimately someone to become a companion. The Internet is the perfect avenue for someone with a social anxiety to initiate a relationship. By creating a community where everyone has a mental illness I hoped that barriers that often frustrate those with mentally ill could be broken down. Dispense with that difficult bugaboo disclosure and remove the fear of stigma were my primary goals. I purposely use the term "community" for that is what I want to build.
Some general guidelines
Many users will be quite elated with the ease and comfort that knowing every
potential contact on the site shares a mental illness. This should in no way
though impart a sense that the site is the cure to all one's social frustrations.
I offer no guarantees. Some users will see a lot of attention while others
may struggle to get noticed. In general, the female users will receive more
attention while the guys will usually have to be more on the initiative and
start the communication. This is largely due to the fact that the membership
is usually about 60% men versus 40% women. It is also just basic human nature
that the man is the aggressive one and the woman the pursued. If one is having
a tough time getting noticed on the site do not despair. Everyday new users
arrive. Any one could be that special person. Just as in the daily world there
is always the threat of rejection. Have faith in yourself. Self-confidence
is not only an attractive trait to others but also the fortification one needs
to navigate the waters of romance.
Safety on NoLongerLonely
As your webmaster I will be diligent in guarding your personal privacy. I will see to it that no one gets your personal information (i.e., your email address) unless you provide it. Unfortunately any community, even one built on high and noble principles, will have its share of bad apples. There may be users that sign up that will not have good intentions. They may lie in their profile and their intentions may not always be what they represent. For this reason users should be wary. Do not reveal highly personal information (especially your true email address or your phone number) until you have built a level of trust. You wouldn't just walk up to someone on the street and say here I am call me. This situation is not that different. We are all strangers until we build a certain level of trust. So trade a few messages before you start to reveal personal information. Ask questions of the other person that could be reassuring in deciding if they are trustworthy. If you don't pace yourself in starting a correspondence it can make the other person uncomfortable. Take your time and always be on guard.
Be sure to report bad behavior
As the webmaster I cannot monitor every email or every moment in the chat room. So I rely on you the user to let me know if someone is abusing the system or in general behaving badly. Please contact me if you feel offended or apprehensive in any way about another user. Just as in the non-virtual world harassment does occur. If you feel the offense is serious keep some of the written communication that is bothering you. Those who can't abide by the rules will be removed from the site. Serious offenders could face legal prosecution. I will see to it that the atmosphere on the site is one that breeds trust and general comfort.
How to approach online dating
As I said before online dating is not some quick fix or answer to all your
problems. Your success on NLL is dependent on a healthy approach. I can't stress
enough the importance of taking your time. Many times because of loneliness,
sexual desire, or desperation we might go against our better judgment and jump
headlong into a relationship using a rationalization along the lines of "you've
got to take risks to succeed." It also may occur that the other person is
moving too fast for your own comfort. This is where clear communication is
essential. No one should ever feel pressured. Go at your own pace and be cautious…ask
questions whose answers can provide confidence. The asking of questions is
a crucial component of the process. Be inquisitive. If something raises a red
flag or makes you feel uncertain of the other person don't let it stew…resolve
it by forcing the other person to explain it. I don't mean to sound cynical
but people do lie and do exaggerate the truth. Be wary.
Guarding your sensitive information
This is the general progression for online relationships and should be followed
at one's own pace:
- Meet online, usually anonymously
- Exchange email and continue relationship via chat, written correspondence, or both.
- Progress to a phone relationship
- Meet in the physical world.
How long each step takes is up to the individual, and each step should only be taken when both users feel comfortable. Here are some other general guidelines regarding one's personal information:
The first thing many people will want to know is your name and get beyond
knowing you by your anonymous username. I would wait a couple emails or chats
before sharing the first name but each person feels differently. Your last
name is something that should be guarded until a strong level of trust has
When you discuss where you live, do not give out your home address. Instead give a general location. Urban dwellers can mention their neighborhood, while rural users should probably just mention their county or city they live near.
Be careful when discussing your job. Be aware that too much information here could reveal your work address.
Do not reveal your social security number or any financial or credit card information. If someone asks for these things you should cease contact with them and notify me.
Enter the Offline World Cautiously
Entering the physical world begins not with a face-to-face meeting, but with revealing your phone number. As I said previously, never reveal your home phone number until you are comfortable doing so. If you don't feel ready to reveal your number get the other parties phone number and initiate the call. Once you are ready to make the plunge here are some tips for that first meeting:
Meet in a well-traveled public space during the day. It's also a good idea to have your own transportation or be near public transportation if you feel the need for a quick exit.
Tell someone you trust about the date (including details of where, when, and with whom) before you go on it. You can even arrange a call to this person to "check in" during the date.
If you have a cell phone keep it handy. It can be a savior in a stressful situation.
Building a Winning Personal Ad
Choose an Identity Carefully
Username is something that cannot be edited by you or the webmaster so choose wisely. If you need to change the username you must delete your profile and start from scratch. This is the first thing another user will see so ideally it should be meaningful, descriptive, and suggestive. It can reveal something about you physical appearance, your talents, your interests, what you are looking for, or even just be an obscure reference or joke.
Create an Attention-Grabbing Headline
Since it is one of the first things browsers will notice, the headline is
important as an introduction to your ad. It should not only be catchy (and
relatively short) it should draw attention to your ad by amplifying some aspect
of your personality or by just being playful. You can always adjust your headline
if you want it changed.
Be Honest in Describing Yourself and What You're Looking For
It is a great letdown when meeting face-to-face with someone you've been interacting
with and finding they have being less than truthful about themselves. The same
is true when you find your date who has professed such interest has really
just been sounding accommodating. We all want to show ourselves in a positive
light but it is important to be truthful in our profile. Be very direct in
your goals and demand that same forthrightness in your dates. Are you looking
for a serious relationship? Just some fun dating? A penpal? Sex? What is the
other person looking for?
Purposefully deceitful profiles will be removed by the webmaster
Reveal Something About Yourself
When people create their personal ads, they usually list activities and pursuits they are involved in. While these things certainly have a place in one's profile you should also go beyond a laundry list of interests and truly reveal something about yourself. Everyone feels differently about how much to reveal about one's illness but you may want to broach the subject a bit as our illness is a large part of our life. Revealing something personal is an excellent way to differentiate yourself from other ads. As in other aspects of the process, everyone progresses at their own pace. Never reveal something that makes you feel uncomfortably vulnerable.
Be Positive and Confident
People like someone with confidence. Stress your best attributes and have
pride in yourself when you create your profile. It's ok to be honest but try
to place yourself in a positive light. It is important also to be specific
about what you're looking for. For example, if you refuse to date someone who
smokes come right out and say it.
Posting a Photograph
Studies have shown that including a photo with your profile can improve your response rate up to 800%! While I strongly encourage everyone to post a photo, the decision is clearly optional. Posting a profile can certainly compromise your anonymity and this is something you should consider. Being honest applies here as well as the photograph should of course be of you and should be current. The best photographs are headshots with no one else in the frame. Lighting should not distort your image. If you lack the facility to upload a photo, send one to the webmaster at: P.O. Box 8174, White Plains, NY 10602 and be sure to have your username on the back of the photo or in an accompanying note. If you want the photo returned include an extra stamp.