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Getting started on internet dating
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Ten top tips for getting started on internet dating

by Chris Barnardo

  Article No. 21
Date posted September 26, 2008  

When you separate from your long term partner, it can feel like the wheels have come off your trolley, but if you can keep it together, sooner or later you find yourself ready to start dating again. If you have been in a long relationship then as well as feeling excited, quite naturally youíll feel a bit rusty and a touch apprehensive at the prospect of dating again. Although the basics are the same, the rules have probably changed slightly since you last stepped out on the town.
. . . Internet dating is a good way to meet new people and is especially helpful if your day to day work and activities donít bring you in to contact with lots of new people. It may not be the answer to your dreams that the adverts claim, but it is good fun and you never know when love is going to strike. So here are my ten top tips for how to start getting the most out of internet dating.

1. Become a member of one of the bigger sites
Internet dating is a bit of a postcode lottery and itís a game where numbers count. Big sites have more people registered with them, so it follows that your chances of finding the right match (and someone who lives near to you) improve dramatically if the dating site has a big membership. Ask around if any of your mates have any experience of dating sites and which are the best or most suited to you. Do a bit of research on the web by Googling the name of the dating site you are considering and see if anyone has written about their experiences in blogs or on any forums.

2. Do some homework to get your personal advert or profile right
Writing your personal advert can seem like a big challenge, but itís not as hard as you think, if youíre prepared to do a little bit of homework before you write your own. Look at some other peoplesí profiles, see how they make you feel, see what key words appeal to you or make you take notice; for this exercise try to ignore the photograph. Go on your chosen dating site as if you are the opposite gender and look at your ďcompetitorsíĒ profiles, how are other people, like you, describing themselves? Think about your good points and personal qualities, ask a few friends how they would describe you and listen to what they have to say. Always be ready to refine your advert if you think it isnít working hard enough for you. Make sure it is spell checked and get someone else to read it before you publish it to make sure you havenít made any howling mistakes. Donít lie about yourself or your age. Long relationships are built on trust, you never know when you might find the right person and if you do, you donít want to start by showing that you have no regard for the truth.
. . . Be prepared to change or refine your advert if it doesnít seem to be working and getting you noticed.

3. Take some time and care to get a decent photograph of yourself
Get a decent photo or photos of yourself. Obviously use an up to date photograph, and not one of you taken 10 years ago. Donít use ones where you were in the photo with your expartner but have cut them out of it, itís obvious when that is the case and itís a real turn off. Make sure you look happy and confident. Choose photographs that does you justice and have a selection that show you in a couple of different activities. Most people use their holiday photographs because they feel happy on holiday and look fit and tanned, but then looking through an internet dating site can feel a bit like trawling through a travelogue.
. . . If you donít have any decent photos, over the next few days, take your digital camera out with you wherever you go (work and play) and get your friends to take as many photos as possible of you each day for a week. At the end of the week, sit down with your computer and the images and go through them and select the best two or three and use those.

4. Be aware of fakes or scams
Donít be fooled by fake profiles. Every so often you come across a profile that looks too good to be true. A beautiful person with criteria that seem to say that she (or he) is interested in anyone, whatever the age and number of kids / dogs / height / weight, is etc. This sort of profile is too good to be true, and of course it is a fake. Most online dating fakes are scam artists preying on people who are a little bit vulnerable, in that they are feeling unloved and desperate to find someone who wants to take an interest in them, and so are prepared to stretch their belief to cover the implausible. It has been reported in the press (and online) that some of the fakes are even people seeded from the dating site itself in order to boost membership renewals.
. . . To spot fakes, pay attention to the little clues, inconsistencies in stories, or non sequitur replies to your emails, lack of personal background, only one photograph that looks like a glamour shot, or ideal partner criteria that is too wide. If the information is blatantly false and obviously designed to con you, then notify the administrator of the site.

5. Be patient and courteous
Remember women get between 10 and 30 times more hits than a guy, so be patient while waiting for a response. Be considerate, especially if the other person has taken the time to give you a negative response. Donít treat it as a competition, always be courteous and if you get emails from people that you donít think are a good match to you, always try and write back to them to tell them politely, that you appreciated your email, but that you donít think that you are compatible.

6. Donít reveal too much personal information
Think carefully before revealing too much personal information. You have no idea really who you are dealing with. Despite the fact that everyone appears to be on the dating site with the same intention as you (to honestly meet someone), chatting on line with complete strangers is like sitting on the bus or train and starting up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. You wouldnít walk up the train giving out your personal information, phone numbers and pictures of your house and children. So take care.

7. Donít send too many messages
Try and be a little bit reserved, just a little bit. Sending loads of messages and hassling someone who hasnít replied for a day just comes across as needy. Neediness is a big turn off. If the person who you are emailing hasnít replied as quickly as usual, donít assume that it is something you have done or not done. There are hundreds of reasons why they might not have replied as usual. Something might have come up in their life that they have had to deal with, maybe they went out with their mates on an impromptu evening, or had a long day at work and didnít feel like emailing when they got home. If they like you and want to continue the email conversation, theyíll get back to you soon enough. If they have changed their mind and donít want to carry on chatting, understand and respect that and move on.

8. Be interested in the other person
Donít talk or write too much, at most make sure youíre talking only half the time and writing as much as the other person. Meeting someone is all about relaxing and enjoying yourself, being natural and having fun. You donít need to give your life story in the first few emails. Getting to know someone is about asking them a question or two and listening to the answer as much as it is about telling them about yourself.

9. Do not initiate sexual talk or make gross innuendos
Donít initiate suggestive or sexual conversations. Women can feel quite threatened by sexual innuendo. Women are not usually on dating sites looking for sex, they are looking for a rounded relationship. At all times be a gentleman. When you meet, if there is chemistry and you hit it off together, thereíll be plenty of time for things to develop, at a pace you and your new partner feel comfortable with.

10. Donít make the same mistakes as before
Itís easier said than done, but this time make a conscious effort not to make the same mistakes as before. Think about why your last relationship failed. Think about why you were unsuitable for your last partner. Try to think in terms of what role you played and what type of person they were. Everyone likes what they know, even if it hurts them sometimes. But now is your chance to think about what you would do differently, if you had your time again. Think long and hard about the sort of person you need in your life, and the sort of qualities in your partner that will make YOU happy. Look for these. Youíre not stupid for making a mistake, but you are foolish if you keep making the same mistake over and over and not learning from it.
. . . If you think what you are doing is not working out, say so as soon as you know. There is no point wasting time in a new relationship that is not working out, or reminds you of bad things your last partner used to do. Be polite, but in the early part of a relationship, before any commitment has been made, you owe it to yourself and to your date to finish it decisively as soon as you know itís not right.

Other dadcando articles you may find interesting:

Feeding the machine
A short article about manipulative relationships that might help you see things slightly differently

Another place at breakfast
Ten top tips on how to introduce your new partner to your children

The Biggest Ask
Ten top tips on how to deal with the fact that your expartner has started dating someone new

We want to hear from you. If you have any interesting tips or suggestions for things to do that have made your life better and helped you get the most from the time you have spent with your children, then please tell us and weíll put them up on dadcando. Click here to tell us your advice or tips.


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