01/13/2012 05:22 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2012

From Rock Bottom to Loving Online

A year and a half ago today, I drove across the Bay Bridge, my two-carat ring sparkling despite the fog. In my rearview mirror, I could see my panting pug and... the remnants of my life in Los Angeles. My plan was to meet my fiancé, who had arrived a week earlier to set up our new apartment in San Francisco. What I didn't plan was finding him passed out on the couch with an empty vodka bottle in his hand. Even worse, in his other hand was a piece of paper on which he had scrawled "S or V" -- a list comparing me to the woman he was cheating on me with.

Twenty minutes later I was single. Ouch.

Seriously? So then what? Besides being brand-new to a city where I had only one friend, I also had no idea how to date. I had spent my 20s fine-tuning my career while languishing in long-term, low-effort relationships. Now, at 33, I realized that I had been proactive in every part of my life but the most important one -- my choice of a partner.

About four hours after giving the ring back, I decided to go on Too soon? Probably. Painful? Heck yeah. The bartender at the Ritz Carlton still remembers me from that night every time I sheepishly stop in -- tears streaming into my vodka martini while I carelessly filled in the blanks on my computer. Height, hair color, body type, religion...

And then everything changed. The next morning, I opened my email to find messages from five different men: a psychiatrist, a physical therapist, a French poet, a website developer and a guy with a pug! All of them wanted to connect with me. All of them wrote me emails that made me... smile. All of them were the reason I found the strength to move forward.

Here is the first dating rule I learned:

  • There is no better way to heal after a breakup than to go online and be reminded that there is a city full of men who would love to take you out. Hit the dating websites as soon as possible post-breakup because there you will find men who have a wide variety of interests, goals and values. Men who offer a window into different ideas, ways of living and experiences that you never considered. Every day, you'll receive emails from guys complimenting you, interested in you. Slowly you will find the feeling of defeat and disappointment replaced with hope, amusement and excitement.

Over the past year, I decided to make a study of online dating. What should I write in my profile? What photos should I post? What should I wear on a date? What are men looking for? How do I ensure that they call after a date?

So ultimately, not only did I find love online -- a man more wonderful than I could ever have imagined -- but I also put in the time, the effort, the humiliation (oh the humiliation!), the laughter and the tears to hopefully make dating more empowering for you. So, please stay tuned. If there's one thing I know, it's that I've got this right.