You’re ready to meet someone new, but the club has lost its appeal and you’ve had no luck with blind dates, so what do you do? For many who are dissatisfied with the old-fashioned way of meeting people, online dating has become an acceptable and popular alternative, with the success of Match, eHarmony, Tinder and most recently, Delightful. However, when you’re relying on online profiles instead of initial face-to-face contact, you risk the chance of compromising your safety, among other issues. Read the following 11 tips on how to be safe, have fun and make the most of your online experience.
- Don’t provide all your personal information. There is no need to give away all your details. Only provide the basic information, for example: your first name, your likes, dislikes and a G-rated, recent profile picture. Keep in mind that it is harder to delete information that is already on the Internet and everyone can see what you post.
- Ask friends or family who’ve used it for advice. When in doubt, ask a friend or family member about their experience(s) with online dating. Did it work? Something to remember — online dating can be hit-or-miss, so you need to be open to the different possibilities that you may encounter.
- Don’t believe everything that you read or see. Just because someone has a beautiful (or handsome) picture of themselves, doesn’t mean that they look like that now or if it’s actually a photo of the person in the profile. Beware of scammers who steal identities and fabricate their entire lives. They may even trick you into a relationship and, in some cases, steal large sums of money.
- Don’t lie. The success of online dating sites relies on active members keeping it real. There is no need to lie about yourself to impress others. If you want a successful experience, then keep your details accurate.
- It may take several attempts. Just like real life, you won’t always find what you’re looking for on your first try, but don’t be disappointed. Sometimes failed dates make good friends that are worth keeping.
- Know what you’re looking for. It will be easier to navigate the world of online dating once you know what you’re looking for, whether it is a casual date, a one-time hookup or a long-term, serious relationship. It’s also a great idea to compile a list of things that you see as non-negotiable(s), which will guide you through a successful search.
- Don’t be a stalker. While you are waiting for him or her to reply, go on with your busy life. Don’t look at their profile to see if he or she has logged in. Don’t hover over your sent mail folder to see if your message has been read. Remember that you don’t know this person at all and you shouldn’t have any expectations of when he or she should reply.
- Don’t pay attention to what other people think. Sometimes people who engage in online dating receive judgment from others because it is seen as an activity that is for “losers,” “very impersonal” and “dangerous,” to name a few. It is no different than meeting someone face-to-face, as you still have to get to know them and even with in-person meetings, sometimes the person turns out to be a stalker or a zero (or both). At the end of the day, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, except yourself. If you let someone else’s words affect you, you’ll end up worrying about insignificant issues, which could ruin your experience.
- Know that it’s OK to say no. Sometimes, you may find a potential match, but somewhere down the line, you sense that they may not be the right fit for you. It’s perfectly acceptable to be honest and tell them that you’re not interested in seeing them anymore. If they start exhibiting signs of creepy, unwanted behavior, consider reporting them to the dating site, the police or both.
- Make the most of it. Each person and date you will meet on these online sites will be different. They will teach you something new or reinforce something you previously believed, and this could potentially reveal something about you to yourself. Even if you’ve had some weird experiences, they could make for good stories (in the future).
- It’s not for everyone. The bottom line is that everyone has such varying tastes and preferences in life that even online dating can’t please everyone. If you’ve tried it and it’s not your thing, then don’t waste your time if it’s not working out for you. Maybe you are better off meeting people face-to-face in the real world, which is OK.
Good luck on your search for Mr. or Mrs. Right!
–myra c. harris is the author of How to Get a Man: From the Kitchen, to the Bedroom, to the Ring, which can be purchased at www.letaypublishing.com.