The Online Playdate: Making the Right Match


I haven’t dated in more than a decade, but lately, I feel like I am doing a lot of blind dating–making online playdates, actually. Instead of searching for a significant other, I’m going online to meet other moms in the hopes that our children will get along and that we’ll click, too. I’ve been blown off, stood up, and left hanging–welcome to Mommy Group online dating!

I am not alone, there are now even apps to help moms make the right play date matches.

[quote style=”boxed”]In a recent article, Tinder for Moms, released numbers that stated of more than 2,000 moms polled, 82 percent said they find it hard to make mom friends. And yet, when asked if they would use an app or other online matchmaking service to find friends, 57 percent said they would not compared to 43 percent who said they would. What’s the difference? And why do we treat mom friend-ing differently than dating?[/quote]

Let’s Set a Date: My Online “Playdate” Experiences

Experience #1: I chatted with a mom online and struck up a match.

  • Our sons were the same age and we agreed to meet at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire on a Saturday morning. She texted me to confirm. She showed up on time with a smile on her face.
  • Our children were slightly incompatible–her son was ultra-shy and my son is a non-stop ball of energy.
  • We parted ways amicably. I thanked her (via Facebook Messenger) for meeting us and for a good time. Yet, I never heard from her again. She and her adorable son vanished out out of thin air–in-person and online. Sound familiar? 

Experience #2: In an organized play group, I set up playdates at a popular local playground.

  • The “yes” confirmations were few, but moms and their children slowly signed up to meet us at the playground and I was hopeful.
  • At the first meetup, Everett and I waited for 15 minutes for friends. One hour. We then packed our things and were hopeful that friends and their moms would show up next week at a less busy time, at a better time, at a warmer time…
  • After a few weeks, sign-ups dropped off completely and the moms decided Fridays just weren’t good at all. I felt rejection I had not felt in a long time.

Top Five Ways Meeting Other Moms is Similar to Online Dating 

  1. Plans are typically made “online.” That is, moms typically set the time, date, and place of a playdate using a text feature, Facebook post, or email. If you miss one of these, you might be unaware of critical changes in plans. Kids suddenly get sick, act up, or refuse to leave their homes. Moms or dads get called into work. This could mean your date is over before it even begins, and you might not even know it unless you are plugged in at all times.
  2. Personalities that click “online” might not click in person. A mom may seem witty, share similar interests, and write incredibly insightful posts. But when you meet her, you find you have nothing in common. Conversation drags, or maybe your parenting styles are completely different. Or, maybe your kids don’t mesh. After all, they don’t get to trade stories online!
  3. Once “offline,” you worry about how you look, what you do for a living, and that state of your house. We feel judged on dates, and it’s no different when you bring your online relationship offline, especially if you are hosting. As a 42-year-old mother of a 22-month-old, I wonder if I seem too old, fat, frumpy, or out-of-touch. I wonder if I am going to be judged for having worn-out furniture, cat hair-covered pillows, or dishes in the sink. Will I fit in with the 30-year-olds?
  4. You can experience rejection that has nothing to do with you or your child. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Maybe your schedules just won’t ever coincide. Perhaps she is a stay-at-home mom who prefers weekday playdates when you are at work. Or, she’s a working mom who prefers to spend weekends with her family rather than out at playdates. Maybe you are too reserved/outgoing; old/young; crafty/sporty; strict/permissive. Or, your kids are too far apart in age or development to well play together. There are so many variables. You can’t take it personally.
  5. You might make an online match that grows into an incredible friendship. This is starting to happen to me. I’ve met one woman (initially online, who shares my namesake) who I would consider a friend, and whose children Everett really likes. It does take time and there have been instances when one of us has had to cancel due to illness, extended nap times, or scheduling conflicts. I appreciate her parenting advice, the activities she plans, and how wonderful she is to include me when she has standing plans with other moms. She still hasn’t seen my house, so it’s possible that could change things…

What online playdating experiences have you had? What makes a good date versus a bad date? Would you consider using an app for successful online playdating?