Choose the Site that Meets Your Needs
One in every ten adults in the United States has used an online dating site or mobile dating app according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center. There are five different types of online dating services you can choose from says the publisher of Online Dating Magazine, Joe Tracy, in "10 Essential Online Dating Tips." They are general online dating services where you can view all profiles; relationship services where you’re matched with others based on compatibility tests; social network services which allow you to build friends and potentially date from that group; niche dating services where people with common interests are brought together; and merging online dating services where you post a profile and then hand out cards to people you meet in real life who can then access your profile to learn more.
Know What You Want
Once you know which site you plan to use, figure out what you want in a potential mate. The range of criteria you can use to narrow down your search varies from site to site, but possible ideas include religion, education, drinking and smoking habits, location and interests. Before looking at pictures, pick three to five non-appearance related criteria that are very important to you and then look at the photos, recommends psychotherapist Robert Weiss in the article, “Tips for Finding a Safe Date or Mate Online,” on huffingtonpost.com.
Create a Strong Profile
One of the first things people see is your profile. This and your picture are the two key elements that determine if someone communicates with you according to Tracy. Keep your profile positive and unique. Instead of just saying you like movies and eating out, specifically name your favorite movie and favorite type of food or restaurant. Use adjectives to describe your hobbies and add as much detail as possible so your profile stands out among the others. Including a picture is essential. Make it a recent photo, make sure you’re by yourself and that you look your best, but don’t put up a professional photo where your makeup and hair isn't even close to what you normally look like.
It’s imperative to follow certain safety guidelines when you meet people online and eventually when you meet them in person. People to avoid include those with profiles that aren’t complete, have poor spelling or grammar, describe someone who sounds too good to be true, anyone who asks for money and people with risqué or suggestive photos, writes Cassie Anderson in an article on staysafeonline.org. You should also trust your instincts: If something feels off, leave. Meet in a public place and drive yourself there and home, plan to check in with a friend or family member at least once during the date, and keep your initial meeting short suggests relationship expert Terri Orbuch in the article, “Nine Key Tips for Dating Online Safely and Successfully,” on the Psychology Today website.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the Unites States of America: Marital Satisfaction and Break-ups Differ Across Online and Offline Meeting Venues
- Pew Research Center: Online Dating & Relationships
- Psychology Today: Nine Key Tips for Dating Online Safely and Successfully
- Online Dating Magazine: 10 Essential Online Dating Tips
- Online Dating Magazine: Creating a Better Online Dating Photo
- Huffington Post: Tips for Finding a Safe Date or Mate Online
- StaySafeOnline.org: It's as Easy as 1, 2, 3 -- Top Tips for Online Safety in Shopping, Social, Dating and Banking