Online dating has become one of the most popular ways for couples to meet.  In fact, it has overtaken the traditional “singles bar” experience by a wide margin.  In recent years twice as many marriages occurred between people who met online rather than in a bar or club. 

The proof of that popularity is the sheer number of dating sites that exist now, many even tailored to specific interests, faiths, races, etc. 

If you’re looking for someone and have specific needs you’re likely to find a site that can help.  That being said, there are some things you can do to help your chances of successfully dating online.

  1. Ask For Help – the biggest mistake most people make when dating online is being too embarrassed to ask for help but there’s no reason for that. 

    As we said above, dating online is extremely common so you are hardly alone in going this route.  Taking the plunge can be daunting, though, especially if you’re not really tech savvy, so don’t be afraid to ask a family member or friend for help. 

    Chances are good that someone you know has already been involved in online dating so they’ll know exactly what to do and can help you get up and running.  Also, some of the popular dating sites have tips to help you get started.   The help is out there so don’t shy away from accepting it.

  2. Be Honest – The biggest factor in successful online dating is, of course, your profile.  This is your chance to make a first impression and it can make or break your overall results.  There are a few things you can do to ensure that your profile garners the type of interest you want and the first is to make sure that you’re honest. 

    Obviously, you can’t control whether other people are being honest with you and the temptation with interacting online is that you can literally be anything or anyone you want.  That doesn’t change the fact that the most important person to be is yourself. 

    Use a good photo of yourself and be straightforward about your background and personality.  If you want a serious relationship to come out of this then you don’t want to start building it on a lie. That will just put you on shaky ground right out of the gate.

  3. Talk, Don’t List – Being honest is a good beginning but you also want to make sure your profile is interesting.  The best way to do this is to keep it conversational.  Don’t just put up one list after another, enumerating your interests or accomplishments. 

    You want your profile to sound friendly and relaxed as if you are conversing with the people who are reading it.  That way you can get some of your personality across and you’re likely to keep a reader’s attention.  That’s crucial because the longer you keep someone reading, the more likely he is to be interested enough to contact you.

  4. Go Easy On The Job Talk – Another important tip when you’re putting together a profile is to limit the amount of time you devote to talking about your job.   There’s nothing wrong with having a career or with it being important to you but you don’t want to knock him over the head with your professional accomplishments.  

    The more you talk about the job the more likely you are to give him the wrong vibe; that you’re all about work and not interested in fun. 

    Plus, reading about your business success could be threatening to some guys, which may be a turn-off.  This doesn’t mean that your profile should be all fluff but you need to balance the contents.  Make sure there’s enough of your personality included to offset the professional stuff.

  5. Avoid The Negatives – When putting together your profile you want to avoid talking about what you don’t want in a relationship and focus on the positives you bring to it instead. 

    The more you discuss what you don’t want, the more negatively it reflects on you.  Men will read that as you being critical and judgmental and that’s likely to be a major turn off.   Most men are looking for someone fun and friendly and this kind of attitude says the exact opposite.

  6. Protect Your Privacy – Of course, the danger of dating online is attracting the wrong kind of person.  That’s why you need to proceed cautiously when putting your profile up on a dating site. 

    Don’t give personal information out to someone who you’ve never met in person.  Use your first name only in initial conversations and hold off on giving your full name, phone number or any other details until after you’ve met in person.

  7. Answer Promptly – When he does contact you, make sure you get back to him as soon as possible.  That doesn’t mean you have to respond instantly, you don’t want to come across looking desperate after all, but you should definitely make an effort to respond within 24 hours of receiving a message. 

    The longer you go without responding the more likely he is to write you off and move on to someone else. 

    If you happen to be online when he initiates a chat then you should answer immediately and keep things light until you get a read on him and decide whether to proceed.

  8. Trust Your Gut – Once you’ve made contact you need to be cautious about how you proceed.  No matter how much advice you get from friends and family your best tool for knowing what step to take next are your own instincts. 

    You’ll know if someone comes off sounding less than genuine so if you’re getting that vibe, proceed with caution.  Ask the appropriate questions and if you don’t get answers you like, don’t be afraid to say no.  

    Also, you should never ever give any money or any financial information online.  If someone immediately starts asking you for money that’s a pretty good sign that he’s not legitimate and you should walk away. 

  9. Take Your Time – Statistics show that relationships tend to move more quickly online but that doesn’t mean you have to dive in with both feet right away.  You need to give yourself time to get to know someone that you meet online.  

    After you’ve chatted or exchanged emails for a little while, then you should speak on the phone.  Talking in person can help you to get a feel for the other person that you can’t via a computer screen. 

    Only after you’ve spoken on the phone should you consider meeting face-to-face.  Remember, the more time you give yourself to get to know him, the more chance you’ll have to pick up on any potential problems before it’s too late.

  10. Be Sensible About Meeting – Eventually, you’re going to get to a point where you want to take things to the next level and meet face-to-face.  When you’re sure about it, go ahead but make sure you take the proper precautions. 

    Always meet for the first time in a public place like a coffee shop or bookstore and make sure you tell someone where and when you’re going and the name of the person you’re meeting.  You may even want to have a friend or family member drop you off and pick you up for an added sense of security. 

    Also, keep the initial meeting short and friendly.  If you really do feel sparks, there will be time for longer, more intimate dates later.

Online dating can be a great way to find someone who shares your interests and is a great match but as with anything you do online you need to use common sense and be cautious.  

The danger with online dating is that you run the risk of being so caught up in the excitement and emotion of the moment that you may overlook signals that everything isn’t as perfect as you might have thought.  That’s why it’s important to get input from people you trust so that you’re not going it alone. 

Sometimes the people you love can have a clearer view of things from the outside and because they care about you, they’ll be operating with your best interest at heart.

All that being said, the most important thing you can do is trust yourself.   You know what you want and what you don’t and you shouldn’t be willing to settle for anything less. 

There’s no reason that online dating should signal desperation, it’s just another way of broadening your horizons and meeting other people and there’s no reason not to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. 

You don’t have to be embarrassed but you also shouldn’t be so foolish that you throw caution to the wind. 

As with most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it and if you take the right approach you just might find yourself among the many online dating success stories.