Online dating has been around for a decade or so and everyone who peruses the internet has heard about it. Just about everyone who is single has either tried or contemplated trying an online dating service at some time or another. Some who have been willing to try online dating have experienced success, fallen in love and even gotten married to the person they met using an internet dating service. Yet, others have horror stories to tell about the person(s) they met online and/or later in person. Others become frustrated because they can't seem to find the right person and give up Those who have had unfortunate experiences have nothing but content for online dating.
When you really stop to think about, online dating is really pretty much the same as any other form of meeting someone new. Whether you meet someone online or in a supermarket, you strike up a conversation, decide if the person is an intellectual fit, decide whether or not you're attracted to him/or and then decide if you want to further the relationship based on the information you've seen and heard thus far. It doesn't really matter how you meet new people because the simple fact of the matter is that you can have both good and bad experiences in any venue while seeking romance. Where you meet them is irrelevant.
The major difference online, is that all of the initial communication is done from the safety of your keyboard. By joining an online dating community you get the opportunity to shop for people. You browse photos, read profiles, communicate in forums, chat rooms, instant messages and send and receive e-mails. With online dating you are afforded a great deal of information gathering resources to help you determine who may be compatible for you. You can move at your own pace and initiate contact when you are ready. There is no pressure. If someone does attempt to pressure you, you have the option of "blocking" that person or reporting him/her to the webmaster.
Conversely, when you join a dating site and present yourself for others to view, you are in essence advertising yourself. You're letting potential dates know that you are available and through your profile, you can set the criteria in which only those who closely qualify should contact you. You reserve the option to respond to or ignore inquires- however to show respect you should always at least tell the incompatible person that you are not interested.
The bottom line is that online dating is an excellent way to meet new people. Whether your intentions are to find romance, marriage, friendship, flirt or just chat you will find others who share similar interests. As with any other form of meeting and dating, there can be downsides. The following pointers will help you avoid troubled dates and help to enhance your online dating adventures.
LOOK YOUR BEST!
When you create your profile you should definitely submit your very best photo. If you are serious about meeting someone a photo is a must. You are 10 times more likely to be contacted if your profile shows your photo. Think about it. When you are searching for dates, you probably are more likely to ignore the profiles that don't contain a photo. Photographs are first impressions. No different than meeting someone new in person, you instantly decide if you are attracted to them based on appearance. It's just human nature. Avoid the temptation of submitting a photo that isn't really you. One of the faults to online dating is that it is easy to hide behind a fake personal photo and misrepresent yourself. Doing so expresses dishonesty and insincerity.
It is important to be yourself when it comes to your photo. None of us can help the way we look. Don't overly concern yourself with your appearance. We all have issues with some part of our body that we wish looked better. Don't worry about the ones that place too much emphasis on physical appearance. You have to trust that there is someone out there that does find you attractive --and interesting-- and does want to meet you.
Just remember that a photo is worth a thousand words. It's important for online daters to have a visual image of the person that they are communicating with while deciding whether or not to meet in person. If you misrepresent yourself, chances are, the date is over before it even started.
Creating a profile is your opportunity to tell those who would be interested in you just who you are and what you are and what you are looking for. Keep it fresh and upbeat. There's also nothing wrong with updating your profile on a regular basis to tell others about recent events in your life. Utilize blogs and forums to keep potential dates informed of what's on your mind. You will no doubt receive replies. Following up on those replies is an excellent way to communicate and form relationships.
The importance of a photo cannot be stressed enough, but does a photo really tell others who you are? Of course not. A photo submitted on a profile is usually a head and shoulders shot or some type of action photo -- 'walking along the beach', 'hanging out with your best friend', etc.. Although those visual images are great, they do little to communicate your personality. The serious online dater is involved in his/her profile and spends a great deal of time expressing themselves in the vast features that most online sites offer.
Would you rather read a profile/blog that is mundane and standard or would you rather read about something that is real, maybe funny, maybe serious that you can relate to? Have a bad day? You're probably not alone --post it in your blog. Something unusual or interesting happen recently? Many potential dates may have had similar experiences which can lead to great conversational topics. Break out of your shell! Don't be afraid to let the real you come out.
BE CAREFUL WITH E-MAILS
E-mail is a great feature to use to communicate with potential partners but be careful not to spend too much time using e-mails. Don't spend a long period of time sending e-mails back and forth. Within a few e-mails you should be able to obtain enough information about the other person as to whether or not you should take it to the next level and speak on the phone or even meet. Eliminating those who are not compatible with you quickly is the key to online dating and safety.
DISCUSS VALUES AND EXPECTATIONS
Early in your contact with a potential partner, you should make it a point to discuss several values that are important to you such as religion. Your values and expectations must be communicated clearly and as soon as possible. Expressing your values and expectations early will help to eliminate the potential for a bad incompatible, relationship. For example, if your intention is for a short term sexual relationship only, it is important that your date understands that. If your would be date were uncomfortable with those terms then you do best to move on and find a like-minded person. Failure to discuss values and expectations is a major reason why dates fail.
While communicating with people, listen carefully to what they say and how they say. Unfortunately, there are many people out there that will say and do whatever it takes to impress you. If that is the case, then you are not really getting to know the real them. Listen to the spoken word and if you are meeting in person, pay careful attention to body language. A person's body language can tell you a great deal about them. You need to constantly evaluate what is said or written to protect yourself from being duped. The better the listener you are, the better you will be at identifying good dates and eliminating bad ones.
It's hard to be in a good mood all the time and no one expects you to. However, you shouldn't take it out on someone who is trying to contact you. Whether it's an e-mail or something someone said to you in a chat room or forum, you should understand that everyone on the dating site is merely looking around and expressing themselves. In the case of e-mails for example, it only takes a couple of seconds to reply and say that you are not interested. You'll gain more respect from the sender than if you just completely ignore and delete the e-mail. Being nice is contagious. If you convey politeness and consideration then you will receive the same. In turn, the person that you shed politeness towards will be more likely to be nice to the next person he or she comes in contact with.
To avoid unpleasant experiences with someone who has been less than honest with you, the following warning signs have been identified. Always apply the warning signs while dating to ensure that you are not wasting your time.
* If the word and references to "sex" is routinely used early during communication. If that is what you are looking for, then online dating has definitely worked for you. Else, you should probably not pursue that person, as most likely the person only is seeking a one-nighter.
* Watch out for those who only give out a cell phone number. That could be an indication that the person does not want you to call his/her home because he or she is already involved in a relationship. It could also simply mean that the person doesn't own a landline. You'll have to evaluate which one is probably true based on your interaction with the person.
* Someone who constantly talks about his or her divorce or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. Don't waste your time with this person. This person is still emotionally attached to a prior relationship. This person seeks to find someone else to fill a void in their life. This person needs to resolve his or her personal issues before they can become serious with someone else.
* Coming on too strong--Avoid those who are obviously overzealous. Those types of people include those who constantly send you e-mails and call your phone many times a day. It's great to be eager but there is a fine line between eager and obsessive. Obsessive relationships are very unhealthy and usually fail.
* Avoid the serial dater. The serial dater is the person who seems much more interested in the concept of finding that special someone. The serial daters meets a lot of people and is constantly online searching for new people to date. The serial dater really isn't interested in finding someone and getting on with a normal relationship. During your conversation with someone and they happen to confide in you that they've been dating online for 6 years (example), you should proceed with caution. Most likely the serial dater will become bored with you and move on.
USE YOUR COMMON SENSE
Using your common sense is your number one resource to protecting yourself and getting more out of your online dating experiences and any other form of dating for that matter. Be smart, cautious and trust your 'gut' instincts.
There are millions of people who use online dating services to find others. With that kind of representation, you can have a lot of fun and meet literally thousands of people. Have fun, be safe and good luck!