Online dating is a very powerful tool that many people are using to meet potential partners. While conventional dating methods still exist, online dating offers a convenient, safe, alternative approach to meeting new people. Some people don’t have time to seek out partners on their own in every day life, while others appreciate the safety and confidence that is provided when initial contact is made through a computer screen. With this said, appropriate safety measures need to be followed.
There is a great possibility for success if you are committed. Your attitude contributes greatly to whether online dating will be a successful and pleasant endeavor.
Who is Online Dating For?
Online dating is for everyone! Whether you are young (most sites are 18+), old, gay, straight, Christian, Jewish, Asian, African American, or of any other identity, online dating is available to you.1 Sites such as Match.com are inclusive of all types of people, whereas other dating sites are targeted specifically to certain groups of people, such as ChristianMingle.com and FarmersOnly.com.
Which Site Do I Use?
One of the toughest parts of online dating may be picking the site. There are so many options out there, but no one site works for everyone. Find a site that works for you, which may not be the same as the one your friend recommends to you or that you see on a banner ad.
Make sure that the site you choose matches your interests and intentions. For example, sites such as Match.com are intended to create life-long lasting relationships, whereas an app such as Tinder is more geared towards short-term relationships.
Most sites will allow you to search for free, and then require a paid subscription when it comes to communicating with other members.
Put some time and research into finding a site that matches your goals.
Setting Up Your Profile
Your profile needs to reflect the person that you are. It is important to dedicate some time and energy towards creating long, meaningful descriptions and answers to the site’s questions. This will allow others to get a glimpse of who you are and to see if you may be a compatible match.
The way your profile looks and the quality of the content you provide will make the difference between whether you get a match or not. Do not make up answers that seem “right,” though. Instead, answer the provided questions truthfully and make sure that the writing reflects who you actually are and not your “ideal self.” The right person will admire your true self, not the person who you made up on the Internet.
Good photos can really make your profile stand out, as they are usually the first things that people see when viewing your profile. Online daters want to see one another clearly.2 The main complaints that people have involve things that obscure who you really are. Some examples of bad photos include a lack of photos, photos that are too dark or blurry, costume photos, photos that are extremely photoshopped, sunglasses or hat in every photo, only group photos, mirror selfies, and only headshots. You have to put your true self out there; people want to know that the picture that they are looking at reflects what you actually look like. It is okay to post pictures with your kids or pets. It is also okay to post a group photo if you want to show that you are a social person, as long as you also provide other clear photos of only you.
Make sure you have a recent photos uploaded of what you look like right now. For example, if you drastically change your hair color or general style then you should upload new pictures and take down any old ones to reduce confusion regarding what you look like.
Once you match with someone online, it’s time to get to know each other a little bit better. While profiles can help solidify initial attraction, nothing determines compatibility like an actual conversation. Some online dating programs utilize their own chat services for communication between matching members, while others have members communicate via email. Never give out your personal information to a stranger. Having honest discussions regarding your intentions toward each other can ensure that you both want the relationship to go in the same direction.
Breaking Off Contact
Sometimes a pairing is just not meant to be. Don’t feel pressure to pursue a relationship that you are not comfortable or happy with. There are many other options out there, which is one of the many perks of online dating. Do not become discouraged if a match doesn’t work out. Some people talk to and date many people before finding the “one,” while others are able to find their true match quicker. It might take you one try or it might take you thirty tries, but the key is to not give up. There is someone out there for everyone! If someone is persistent even after you end contact, report their profile to the site or see if there is a “block” feature available.
Meeting In Person
Congrats! If you match with someone online and the virtual communication is satisfactory, then you and your match may decide it is time to meet up in person! When preparing to meet up with another member from the dating site, remember to always tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you should be back. Plan your first meeting in a public, well-lit area, where other people are nearby, such as a coffee shop or restaurant. Be in control of your own transportation to and from the meeting, even if it’s a taxi. Never get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know, especially if it is the first time you are meeting them.3
If you decide to become sexually active with this person, make sure to use proper protection, such as condoms to prevent pregnancy and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Have a reasonable conversation about sex before actually having it. Both partners should be tested for STIs, and must be completely honest regarding their status.3
Potential Dangers of Online Dating
Be aware of the potential dangers of online dating. While this method of dating is relatively safe, it is still important to use good judgment when communicating with or meeting with strangers. Some people create and operate fake profiles. Know the warning signs of “catfishing” and report suspicious activity immediately. Check out the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s advice to avoid online scams.
- Never publicly list or give out any private personal information that could make it easy to identify you. This includes full name, personal email address, home address, phone number, or place of work. Protect your identity until you are comfortable enough with someone to share it.3
- Never continue to communicate with someone who pressures you for personal or financial information, or attempts to trick you into disclosing it. This includes social security number, credit card number, or bank information. Report such incidents immediately to the website.
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1. Match.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.
2. Ware, Lauren. “Cringe Worthy Photo Mistakes.” Match.com, n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.
3. “Safety.” Tinder. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2016.
Last Updated 08 March 2016.