Just be yourself — take it from a JDate expert

Hello, local singles! Who out there is on JDate? My last stint on this site was more than two years ago, prior to meeting the Israeli. Ironically, he and I were on JDate the same time we were set up. But he never came under my radar because he was above my age range. I was open to men who were a decade older than me, but he’s 11 years my senior. I didn’t come under his radar because he waited for the women to do the writing first.

But JDate has always intrigued me — much more than the more generic sites like Match.com — because right off the bat, you have some common ground.

This is precisely what David Siminoff, the chairman of the board of Spark Networks (JDate’s owner and operator), tells me in a recent phone interview during a quick break from an office meeting in Palo Alto. “You have a running head start on the site because everyone on there is seeking someone Jewish.”

Siminoff in May addressed an invitation-only Jewish Women’s Alliance meeting in Los Altos, speaking on what he called “Tales from the Trenches.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. I would have loved sharing some of my own stories or enjoyed the camaraderie of hearing other women’s tales.

Perhaps ironically, Siminoff’s own dating success story is a far cry from the online world. Siminoff met his wife, Ellen, before the days of Internet dating. They are now the proud parents of a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son who both attend a Jewish day school.

I’m grateful that Siminoff has kids — and “gets” them — because during the interview my daughter had a friend over and, in the span of 10 minutes, slipped on the kitchen floor and needed an ice pack. That was followed by nonstop requests to “please let us have a turn on the computer NOW.” (Thank you, David Siminoff, for laughing.)

Asked if he could give any local Jewish singles some tips, Siminoff said: “Just be yourself. There are a lot of people who will apologize for being 40. Or they try to load a photo that doesn’t look like them. There’s no upside to do that.”

I agree. Part of the excitement about meeting people online is that you can be yourself — from a distance. Before meeting in person or talking on the phone, you can take the time to draft letters. For an impatient woman like me, this is a good way to prevent from moving too fast.

But what about single parents?

Siminoff admits that there are more of us out here as the divorce rate increases. I tell him that dating as a single parent is a delicate matter. First, you have to find a sitter (I’ve tried to keep my kid out of it — most of the time, my friends and I swap childcare).

After letting go of the guilt — yes, it’s OK to go out for a while and have a good time —- you need time to shower, dress and venture into the chaotic, emotionally charged world of dating.

If I ever find myself single again, as I soon might —- yes, that’s a hint that things aren’t too hot with the Israeli right now — I’m not as worried as I might have been. You see, Siminoff let me in on a secret. His company, Spark.net, just launched a Web site for single parents called Single Parents Mingle (www.singleparentsmingle.com).

Perhaps I’ll be checking it out.