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|Amber Brooks • 12/27/17|
The Short Version: If you’re one of the millions of Americans participating in online dating, you know not every date is a winner. In fact, some aren’t even close. However, the bad dates are generally the ones that make the best stories. At least, that’s what Melani Robinson and her followers believe. Melani chronicled all 100-plus dates she went on for a year to bring readers the dirty, the ridiculous, and the so-bad-you-just-have-to-laugh-about-it experiences of online dating. Her blog, podcasts, articles, and book deliver a tongue-in-cheek record of the humor and inspiration that can be found when looking for and finding love on the web.
Dating at any time in life can be difficult, but those who enter middle age and find themselves back in the dating pool may be in for a rude awakening. Not only has the landscape changed from in-person meeting to digital dating, but most people in their late 40s and 50s also have different expectations than they did in their younger years.
Undoubtedly, they’ve had experiences that have affected what they now look for in a relationship. In fact, 55% of singles over 50 say they know what they want in a partner, and a whopping 73% say they know what they don’t want. However, nearly half of these singles admit they want to get married in the future, which makes dating a necessary reality.
With so many sources out there claiming to be authorities on how to navigate the online dating space, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s conjecture. Fortunately, blogger Melani Robinson has put in the sometimes-grueling work to inform her readers just how good — and bad — looking for love on the web can be.
Melani decided she was ready to date after being a widow for five years, but she wasn’t about to do it halfway. She threw herself into it by going on over 100 dates in one year. She recorded her hilarious ups and downs, which unexpectedly launched her into her next phase in life as a dating expert.
After finding the love of her life and losing him to cancer five short years later, Melani said she was heartbroken and felt she needed a change. She got into her car and drove from Las Vegas to Manhattan to begin a fresh start. She wanted to be a writer, so she started taking writing classes and blogging without any real direction until she started online dating.
“I looked for a blog that chronicled someone else’s (online dating) experiences that were similar to mine, and I couldn’t find one at the time, so I started the blog,” she said.
She figured that, with her unlimited inspiration and engaging content based on her dating experiences, her blog might have a chance. She launched her website, 1YearOfOnlineDatingAt50.com, and it took off like wildfire.
“It seemed like I wasn’t the only person dating lunatics,” Melani said.
The blog recounted her experience of going on over 100 dates in a year, most of which had plenty of entertainment value if nothing else. Her readers were hooked. The motivation and feel behind the blog are trademark Melani.
“I like to find the humor in outrageous situations, and that’s really what my blog was about,” she said. “It was about laughing at what can be a very frustrating and discouraging situation. It encourages readers to look for the humor in the ridiculous nature of dating, especially online dating.”
During that year, Melani had immense success. Her blog won an award. She was named one of the 10 best online dating experts and began writing for The Huffington Post. After growing a substantial audience, she started a blog not only to tell her stories, but stories from other singles as well. She has also taken her blog and turned it into a book of funny stories, cautionary tales, and tips on dating.
On her blog, Melani not only writes about her experience dating but provides a platform for others to share their stories. Blog topics are more diverse than just what to wear or safety tips. She gives insight on things that affect relationships as well as funny stories about her more entertaining dates.
In her very first post, she talks about the all too real, and often ignored, desires women over 50 have. As she recounts her date with Danny, who was a great guy, she voiced why it wasn’t a love connection.
“There’s got to be a flicker of lust,” she wrote. “I need to feel at some point that I’ll want to take my clothes off.”
At the time, this type of no holds barred commentary was largely missing from the blogosphere, and her views were really resonating with women.
Melani also talks about the realities of aging, self-care, dealing with the knowledge that someone isn’t into you, and when to call yourself out. She also gives other unique voices a place to share their stories.
One such story tells of a woman named Jackie who had evolved from an insecure young girl into a powerful and confident woman. Her story of self-acceptance led her to find her soul mate showing you truly must love yourself, warts and all, before you can love another.
Melani offers a lot of hilarity and a good dose of optimism in her blog by sharing her stories and giving unheard voices an opportunity to share their unique points of view.
After writing her blog, Melani said she felt she had “overshared enough” and believed it was time to tell other people’s stories through her podcast Single Because.
“It’s a good way for others to know there are people in the same situation,” she said. “For example, the last podcast I did was with a woman who was about my age, in her early 50s. She lost her husband tragically in her 40s, and she shared her story.”
After the episode aired, her followers — some of whom had gone through the same thing — reached out to Melani and her guest thanking them for the story.
“It’s that sharing and willingness to share openly and honestly that makes people want to continue to listen,” she said. “These are complete strangers, and they can identify with the same experiences they are going through.”
Melani covers a wide range of topics on her site. She talks to a professional wedding planner who creates memorable experiences for other couples, while silently wishing she were planning her own wedding. She also breaks down polyamory with her guest, Billy, as he shares his experiences.
Melani searches out this unique content to engage her diverse audience.
“While the bulk of people who follow along are in their mid-30s to mid-50s, I have a lot of younger people following along as well because it doesn’t have to do with age,” she said. “It seems like everyone is having the same kind of experiences.”
Melani took her blog and turned it into a book, “One Year of Online Dating at Fifty,” with new stories, previously undivulged details, and, as she puts it, “a ridiculous amount of oversharing.”
Readers can sit back and enjoy Melani’s dating experiment in which she goes on over 100 dates over the course of a year. Readers can also enjoy her articles for The Huffington Post and other outlets where she tackles relationship issues with titles like “Being Mrs. Robinson” and “Online Dating Taboos.”
Melani currently has several projects in development, including a memoir recounting her and her late husband’s experience living in Russia, and a scripted series based on her book and blog. Her personal commitment to connecting with others is apparent in all her work.
“That is the greatest gift of doing this — when I know that I have been able to help people, or the topic has touched them or left them feeling less alone,” she said. “To me, that is the most wonderful thing that can happen.”