Online dating opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to finding Mr. or Ms. Right, but it can also open a Pandora's box of dating disasters. As with traditional dating, knowing what to expect and how to behave increases your chances of finding someone special, while avoiding possible pitfalls.
Finding Love Online
Almost anywhere you go online, you can find love. From gaming sites to chat rooms to forums on any topic, there's potential for a relationship to develop. In a poll by Lovingyou.com, 83 percent of people who reported they had found love online met their significant other in a chat room. Online personals are another venue for meeting people---for purely online relationships or for real-life dating.
Getting to Know Each Other
It can be more difficult to truly know someone you've only met online. Breaking down barriers and learning about each other takes time and effort for both parties. Lovingyou.com provides some tips for getting to know your online love, including a daily "getting to know you" email---trade questions and answers about your interests, hobbies and history. Or make it a guessing game about your favorite book, movie, game or food, using a list of questions that you each answer separately, before going over them together. Afterward, you can tell each other the right answers. You can help your online mate learn about your life and the city you live in by leading a "web tour." Make a list of URLs and include a personal story or memory from each of the places or things you would like to show. Ask your partner to do the same for you.
Look for Red Flags
In the first stages of getting to know someone online, you can weed out suitors who may not be what they claim to be. Just as when getting to know someone during traditional dating, pay attention to things the person says or does that might not work for you in a long-term relationship. For example, if the person fails to provide current photos or legitimate contact information, that could be a red flag. If she says one thing on her profile but something different in person or via email; angers or gets irritated easily; or if something he says or does makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts. If undesirable behaviors show themselves through email or chat, those behaviors will appear in real life, too.
Making It Work
Online relationships take as much or even more work as real life relationships. Make time for your online love, just as you would in the off-line world. Develop and maintain trust and honesty---communicating clearly to avoid misunderstandings---and work to resolve conflict in a healthy way. Think of what you would do if your love lived in the same city, and translate those words or actions into the online environment. Putting in the extra effort ensures your relationship stays strong until you meet face to face.