Internet dating - A guide to dating online

Finding love online

You might have just reached the age of consent, in your twenties or even past thirty. At whatever stage you are in life, finding a date can be a daunting task unless you’re adept at it. No matter how successful we are in various aspects of our lives, we often look for a relationship that fulfills us and makes us feel complete. But it is often not the easiest thing to get a date! Internet Dating has made the ability to find a date more accessible, added variety and yet if you so desire, anonymity.

Traditional dating avenues have now been surpassed by the excitement and challenge of finding a date online. Matchmakers were popular in days gone by but consider this: the Internet is nothing but a matchmaker with the advantage of technology to its credit. No matchmaker could ever offer you the variety and choice that you can have through Internet dating.

It throws up the possibility of compatible individuals having virtual meetings on neutral territory. You could look for someone who matches your key criteria, be it ambitions, education, religion, etc. What more could one ask for?

So how does one embark on the interesting journey of finding a date online? There are a few preliminaries involved.

TIP: Visit Match.com to browse photo profiles of single women and men looking for dates.

The basics

1. Choose a dating site


There is a range of dating sites available and it can be mind-boggling making a decision. Refine your search and narrow the list down to a few. Review them to see which one suits you best. It must offer you a considerable number of profiles to choose from. Most of them charge a fee but there are a few free sites. Look for quality and value for your money. Check with your friends if they have already registered on a site or heard good things about certain sites. A site that already has a good reputation is your best bet.

2. Put up a dating profile

Once you have decided on the site you would like to register with, you will be required to place a personal profile. Just like any advertisement, it should be concise, cover all the vital points and yet be able to elicit interest. Be honest though, and don’t make up stuff. You might end up with people who are attracted to the made-up version and you wouldn’t want to keep pretending to be someone you’re not, would you? Don’t write what you think people would like to hear but what you really are. Include your pet interests and a hint of what you’re looking for in a person. For example, "I’m outgoing, a professional dancer, and love to read in my spare time, enjoy Mexican cuisine and play the guitar. I love dogs and solving crossword puzzles. It would be great to meet someone who loves dancing or is just interested in me! Do mail me if you think we could have something in common."

3. Photographs

You may be required to include a photograph but sometimes the decision to omit a picture may be left to you. Try and keep the photograph simple. Avoid sending pictures in revealing outfits or with too much skin show. After all, you do want him to look beneath the surface, right?
 
4. Scan other dating profiles and email

Once you have registered and posted your own profile, you may also start checking out other profiles to see if anyone sparks your interest. If you’re a woman, don’t hesitate to make the first move. Narrow down your list to 5-7 potential profiles and decide if you would like to mail them all or just start with about three. Keep your first mail to all standard, general and brief.

It could be essentially the same content as your profile, but make it more personal.

For example you could start with, “Hi! I saw your profile and really liked what I read. It seems we have a lot in common because I too am an avid golf enthusiast and enjoy most sports. I work in advertising and am a fitness freak. I love classical music too! I’m not much of a party animal but enjoy going out occasionally with my close friends. Write if you’d like to get to know me better! Waiting to hear from you!”



5. Results

Sometimes after posting a profile or even actively mailing a few seemingly compatible people, things don’t click instantly. Just like any other form of dating, results may not be immediate.

And like all relationships or attempts to form one, it takes a little work, so don’t throw in the towel. Persist and have patience. In case you’ve written to a couple of people and they haven’t replied, don’t worry. They probably weren’t meant for you. Look elsewhere! And if you haven’t received any enquiries, review your profile and fine-tune it. Don’t tamper with the essentials but maybe you need to revamp it and make it more intriguing.

If you receive several responses to your profile or your mail, decide whom you would like to get to know better. Try and ensure the usage of good language in your emails. Be savvy about usage of things that spice up Internet conversations like emoticons etc.

You may initially like to respond to more than one person but keep it to only a few at a time.

Within a few preliminary mails, you will get a fair idea of which one you can see a greater level of comfort, ease and intimacy with, and those who will not work out. You may want to continue a friendly relationship with the latter, but in that case make sure you state your change of heart and let the other know, as that is not the basic premise on which the relationship started.

If you find the other person’s mails suddenly turning offensive, overtly sexual or you’re just not comfortable, let them know or block them out. They will eventually get the message.

Alternatively you may change your email address and/or nickname. On your part, you may indulge in casual flirting but don’t let things get out of hand.

Initially it is wise to protect your identity while indulging in Internet dating. You are never sure which unsavory characters might be lurking around and it’s always best to play safe.
 
6. Meeting in person

It is a natural progression, after carrying on a virtual conversation with someone for an extended interval, that you would like to take it one step further and meet the person. After all, there is only so much you can judge about a person over emails. You may have already formed a certain impression in your mind about your dating partner but don’t build it up too much. You don’t want to be let down too badly because of overly high expectations.

Also before considering meeting the person, it would be wise to start talking over the phone several times. It might provide other insights into the person’s character, which you are not able to gauge over the net.

Once you do decide to meet, you may want to take a friend along and ask him/her to wait for you outside or at another table, unknown to your prospective date. That way, if the person turns out to be not at all what you expected (but don’t go purely on the superficial) or you just don’t vibe in person, or there are uncomfortable silences and the conversation isn’t going anywhere, you can act like you’ve suddenly spotted your friend and make a quick exit. Of course, in the event your date turns out to be a weird character, it can be the best thing you ever did if you’ve guaranteed safety in numbers.