Saturday, March 22, 2008

Online Dating: Basics

Figuring out what you want

This may seem like a no-brainer, but before you go fishing on the web, figure out what you want to catch.

Be honest with yourself, and then take steps to meet the kind of people you are looking for. I live in anSome Personal Experience: Case Study 1 apartment building inhabited only by single women. A few months back we all went online to meet men. Every relationship that didn't work can be traced to the fact that the man and woman involved were not looking for the same thing.

For instance, Sean and Tara had a lot in common--they were from the same area of the country and had even met 10 years previously in college. Tara wanted a relationship--a casual one, but a relationship nonetheless. Sean wanted to date sporadically just to determine whether he wanted to get back together with his ex. Surprise, surprise, it didn't work out.

The basic online relationship categories batted around on the net are:

A. Friends/ Activity Partners
B. Casual dates that will stay casual
C. Dates that will lead to something serious
D. Various "Adult" relationships (So very very many versions. I just did a quick search. Wow. You really can find anything on the Internet. I've decided not to hand-hold you through satisfying your fetishes in this tutorial--just go do your own search. . . )

Placing an ad/profile
After all the browsing is said and done, the best way to meet someone online is to join a service and put up your own ad.

If you're a little shy, you can always run an ad with a friend. Comparing notes--and sharing the disaster stories--makes it lots more fun. (It also provides for interesting conversation when the same person answers both of your ads and gives completely contradictory information. . . )

First, you have to decide what to say. A personals ad is like a first date. You want to look and act like yourself, only better. Keep your ad light-hearted and relatively short. Try to say something unique that will set you apart from the sea of other singles out there. Everybody is looking for someone with whom "to take long walks on the beach" who is "as comfortable in jeans as they are in formal wear" who will "make them laugh." Say something different.

And definitely show your sense of humor. Pretty much everybody has one, and being able to laugh with a beau is essential. Have a friend help you write your ad--they're usually better at unabashedly boasting about all your great qualities than you are. Better yet, have someone you used to date help you write it. That's what I did and it worked really well. Ted was able to tell me that there is no such thing as a 5'3" girl with long legs, so I shouldn't describe myself that way.

Even if you hope to meet the person you will marry and help raise your children, you should only hint at this in your ad and preferably not mention it at all. If, on the other hand, you are not looking for any semblance of a serious or long term relationship, you should be upfront about that in your ad.

Ad with photographs get read more often, so seriously consider putting one up. Yes, part of the joy of e-mail is the anonymity, and not focusing on one's looks--but the fact is that for most people such things still matter At least a little bit. Besides if you put your ad up someplace like Matchmaker anyone browsing your photo already had to join the matchmaking service, so there is no need to worry your friends will find out you have resorted to Internet dating. Anyone who sees your picture has done the same thing.

Staying safe.
There are lots of basic safety guidelines everyone who is dating should follow--dating online is no exception. However, people seem to be more wary about online dating than real world dating. Most people I know exchange names and phone numbers with people they have just met pretty regularly. However, when going on line people are usually counseled to keep their true identity a secret.

I have mixed feelings about this. I agree it's a good
idea to keep your privacy until you feel comfortable with
the person, but then you should just proceed with your eyes

1. Go ahead and exchange email addresses, unless your email
address can somehow be traced to your physical address (like
through Internic) and you are feeling nervous.

2. Go ahead and exchange phone numbers. Talk to the person.
Still interested?

3. Meet them.

  • Meet them someplace public.

  • Meet someplace where you know the neighborhood, maybe
    even someplace where you are a regular.

  • Don't drink, or at least restrict your alcohol consumption.

  • Have a time limit set for the date ahead of time.

  • Bring cash.

  • Bring a cell phone.

  • Make sure someone knows where you are.

  • Don't get in a car with your date.

  • Don't go to their home.

  • Trust your instincts, if you feel nervous for any
    reason, don't be afraid to end the date. So what if
    someone who is making you nervous or scared thinks you
    are paranoid or rude?

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