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Last updated on August 10, 2013 | by Aet Suvari


Ten things about online dating I wish I’d known ten years ago

I’m sure most of us online daters have been in a situation where things haven’t worked out quite as well as we imagined…

Maybe you’ve had some horrible dates or disappointing experiences? Well, consider yourself fortunate: you’ve been through it, you survived and are now wiser for the experience. It’s likely you won’t make the same mistake again, you’ve learned your lesson. However, if you haven’t been online dating for long yet, you might want to find out about the surprises that may be there in store for you. Here’s a list of stuff we wish someone had told us years ago when we were making our first steps in online dating.

1. Don’t skimp on the profile

It really does pay off to put the effort in to creating a good profile. When you sign up you don’t usually think too much about the process – you’re probably more focused on the end result, therefore not spending too much time and attention fine tuning your profile. However, time has actually shown us that the more effort we’ve put into our profile pages, the better results we got. Sure, we know that initially the main thing you have to get right are the photos – but after you’ve gotten past that, it’s the content that counts, the inner beauty if you like. It also increases your chances of attracting the type of person you’re looking for, ultimately making it easier to find and be found. Don’t know how to create a perfect profile? We recently wrote an article on creating a good dating profile with some useful tips.

2. Photos, photos, photos

We already said it: good quality photos are the first priority. It’s not rocket science and I’m sure you’ve heard it five hundred times and more. However, there are still so many bad photos on online dating sites that it makes us wonder if people actually think about uploading a good photo at all or are they just keen to get that box ticked. Get some good photos up. Stick to recent ones – you’re going to have to meet up with someone in real life anyway so it’s only fair. Not a blurry pic you’ve taken with your mobile or webcam. Not a passport photo. Not you getting wasted in the office Christmas party. Avoid selfies, especially when you dress up in your best clothes in your living room, it just looks odd and well, kind of lonesome. Much better to get a friend to take a picture of you out and about enjoying yourself. So it’s pretty simple – clear, recent, smiling photos are essential.

3. Make the first move

If you’re serious about finding a date and not just looking around or window-shopping, don’t be too shy. Get in touch with people. Send winks or smiles or icebreakers – whatever they call them on your dating site. Write emails. Use chatrooms or instant messaging. Go on dates. Talk to people. Even better – meet people. Have fun. You might not find the love of your life but you will meet people, you will interact. And each person you meet is bound to leave some kind of a footprint in your life and make it that much richer. I still remember each and every date I’ve had – the disastrous ones, the boring ones, the crazy ones, the meaningful ones… and I feel lucky I’ve had them all. Yes, even the Welsh truck driver who wanted to move in with me after the first date and didn’t even relent after I had lied in desperation that I am engaged to be married… It’s still an experience. It’s still another human being I have met and another lesson of what a weird and wonderful world we live in.

4. Be kind

Yes, we know there are all kinds of weirdos out there and some people are just plain crazy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be kind to them. There’s no need to ridicule them or be mean to them. Even if people are not that nice to you – don’t let them get to you, don’t go down to their level. The anonymity of online dating and the relative safety the internet provides should not be an excuse to suddenly not respect the rules of normal human interaction. All people deserve your respect. If someone shows you zero respect in return then it’s probably best to block them rather than getting into any kind of confrontation – their issues don’t have to become yours.

5. Stay safe

Every week the papers write about some online dating scam where someone gets been cheated out of their money or valuables. Use your common sense in these areas. If things sound too good to be true… well, we don’t want to sound overly pessimistic but they usually are. There’s being romantic and there’s being silly. Don’t be silly. Don’t give out your email address, phone number or home address to half-strangers and don’t ever agree to transfer money to people who you’ve only ever met online. It’s also wise to arrange to meet up in person pretty soon if you like someone – that way you can tell if there’s any real chemistry without building up a false sense of intimacy through email exchanges that could last for months.

6. Have a get out clause

Also, it’s smart to tell someone before you go out on a date with someone you’ve met on an online dating site. We’re not just talking about safety here – the chances that your date will turn out to be the culprit of the Texas chainsaw massacre are pretty small – but it’s just wise to let your friends or family know where you are and who you’re with. You might even set a ‘rescue phone-call’ with them as it just might happen that your date is a disaster. Just, whatever you do, don’t text them: Heeeeellllpppp!!! while having drinks with a nice but mind-numbingly boring date, just to discover that your battery dies on the very moment you’ve pressed send. It won’t go down well with your friend. Trust me.

7. Be open minded

Sometimes we close our own doors to wonderful opportunities by being too choosy or picky. Perhaps we only look for dates who are exactly six feet tall, between 25 and 28 years old, university graduates and with a solid income. If your searches are too restrictive you might miss out someone truly great out there. Maybe he’s an inch shorter than what you’e looking for. Perhaps her hair colour doesn’t match with the woman of your dreams. In the end all this is just clutter. What matters is the way that person makes you feel when you talk to him or her. That’s the only way you can find a soulmate. So that long list of requirements you’ve been carrying around… leave the essential – then scratch off the rest.

8. Don’t give up

If you don’t succeed – keep trying. A lot of people give up on online dating after a few discouraging experiences. What – you went on a date, you didn’t find the love of your life, does it mean it has to end here and now? Of course not! Some people look for years before they find the right person they want to share their life with. Don’t give up after a few failed attempts. With all those thousands of users out there you’re bound to find your match sooner or later. You just need to keep looking – or try another site from our dating reviews that might be a better fit for you.

9. To pay or not to pay?

Free sites are cheaper but not necessarily better. We’ve used all kinds of different dating sites and what we can tell you is this: true love doesn’t ask whether you’ve paid to find it or not. But if it’s really true love you’re looking for and not just some fun and flirting, we would strongly advise you to sign up as a member on some quality paid site like Match or eHarmony. People who need to part with their cash in order to sign up as full members tend to take the whole experience a little more seriously and therefore invest more of their time and effort in it. The last thing you want to stumble upon is another timewaster. Are you a little strapped for money and don’t think you can afford membership prices? Read our guide of how to save money on an online dating site, it has some good tips.

10. Know when to quit

If you find what you’re looking for, give it up. Delete your profile. Deactivate your account. Become a non-active member. Doesn’t matter how you do it but it’s important that you focus on actual dating instead of trying to constantly look for someone new, someone who might be even better than whoever you’ve got. If that’s how you feel, then maybe you shouldn’t be dating that person at all and should go back to being single. It’s not fair on your new boyfriend or girlfriend nor on other users if you keep using the site and browsing around. You found it, consider yourself lucky. Now go and live your life, be happy and give other people a chance.

These are our tips to making online dating world a better place. The lessons we learned don’t stop here – every day we find out new things as online dating is like a living thing: it grows and evolves as we do. However, these here are the most basic tips we can give to anyone who wants to try online dating. We’re sure that each and every one of you discovers a whole lot more when you do try it and can soon make a list of your own.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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