If you are in the market to meet someone, chances are, at some point, you will try an online dating site. While these types of sites offer the benefit of a “smorgasbord” of potential dates, you need to be smart and cautious about who you choose to meet. The following are dos and don’ts for using online dating sites:
Choosing a Site
Do your homework. Large dating sites such as Match.com have features such as assessments and a wide variety of people to meet. Smaller, niche sites, on the other hand, work on the premise that you already have something in common. Different sites also offer different features. Check out the features of each, such as privacy features, and decide what is important to you.
Don’t join every dating site just because you can. Think about what type of relationship you want and how much money you are willing to spend to join a site. Talk to friends and find out what sites they have used and what their experiences have been like. Once you have narrowed your list of sites to a few, sign up for a free membership (usually you can sign up for free but can’t contact someone until you pay) and give it a try, checking out the profiles, where the members live (do you want to meet someone within your general area?) and what the features are. After a week or so, you should be able to narrow down your choice to one or two sites.
Creating your profile
Do use a flattering but recent picture of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to be a supermodel for someone to be attracted to you. Use a picture that looks like you and skip the props and pictures that have someone else with you. A simple head shot works best.
Don’t use a picture of a friend, a model or one that you had taken back when you were in college. You don’t want to appear too sexy, that will probably only get you those interested in one night stands. You don’t want to appear years younger than you are, you are only setting your potential date up for disappointment.
Do write a description that describes who you are and what you like. Think about what you like to do to have fun and include some of those activities in your profile. Being specific gives you and your potential date an idea of whether you are compatible and will enjoy the same types of outings. Be sure to double check your profile for spelling and grammar errors.
Don’t write general statements, such as “I like long walks on the beach.” Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. If you write a profile that makes you sound like someone else, you will get responses from those who are attracted to your made-up persona rather than being attracted to you.
Getting in Touch
Do keep contact directly through the dating site until you feel comfortable with the other person. Most dating sites allow you to message back and forth, through the site, without giving out personal email addresses or phone numbers.
Don’t include personal information, such as phone number, address or work information until you feel comfortable and feel you can trust the other person. Remember, you are meeting a stranger.
Do keep beginning communications short and sweet. If you decide to message someone, write something like, “I saw your profile and thought you looked interesting.” Write 2 to 3 sentences about shared interests and then ask a question. If you are messaged, keep your answer short –stick with the same 2 or 3 sentences and then a question to show you are interested in further communication. If you are not interested, be kind but say so immediately.
Don’t write your whole life history. This makes you sound long-winded and needy.
Do check emails for originality and specificity. Some responses may sound as if they have been emailed to many different people. It may sound like, “I saw your profile and thought you looked interesting. I think we have a lot in common and would like to meet.” This type of message can be sent to anyone and doesn’t give a clue that he or she actually read your profile.
Don’t get into the “smorgasbord” mentality and feel you need to set up a meeting with every person who responds to your message or sends you a message. Be selective – you wouldn’t date every person you met throughout the day.
Do set up a phone conversation if you have emailed back and forth several times and you would like to move forward. There is a danger of a false sense of intimacy when email conversations go on too long. You will also get a better sense of whether your personalities click.
Don’t respond to emails asking for money, states he or she is working abroad and can’t access their bank accounts or wants to move communication offline immediately. These are typical requests for scammers. Use caution and common sense when communicating with someone online.
The First Date
Do arrange the first few dates in public. Keep the first date to coffee, a drink or lunch to find out if there is any chemistry between you.
Don’t divulge personal information, such as your address and where you work. Keep this information private for the first few dates, until you know your date better. He or she should be understanding of your need for privacy in the beginning, if not, beware!
Do allow for nervousness. Both of you will probably be nervous meeting the first time. You may want to give him or her a second or third chance before deciding he or she isn’t right for you. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule – don’t agree to a second date if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe around someone.
Don’t jump into every relationship as if it is “the one.” Be realistic and set boundaries on what you will and will not accept in the relationship.
Published On: August 27, 2012