Mastering the art of online dating takes skill. And it’s necessary, to keep you safe and scam-free.
The web holds a vast sea of people who’ll give you attention with a flurry of instant messaging and sexy photos – easily seductive, but not always sincere.
But you’re not online to waste your time. The cyber-flirting’s fun for awhile, but a recent YourTango.com survey shows that 63 per cent of people using dating sites are seeking a serious romance.
As in all new human connections, best to know yourself, first. There are dozens of sites –free, or promising matches for a price, ethnic- or religion-based. Still others are special-interest sites, such as for various sexual tastes or specific body types.
Know, too, what you really want – meeting many new people for-fun only, or hoping to find someone who’ll commit to a relationship with a future.
Stick to your goal.
Use your profile to summarize clearly all the individual answers you give to the listed questions about past relationships, your interests, whether you have or want children, etc.
Then re-read the impression you’re about to post. Words and photos convey images…the person who repeats the word “passionate,” another who mentions “partying” and “fun” are both saying things about themselves that have an impact, real or otherwise.
Consider the challenges to finding who and what you’re looking for: 54% of online daters found someone who “seriously misrepresented themselves,” according to a 2013 survey through the Pew Research Center's 2013 Internet and American Life Project.
“Misrepresenting” can be anything from posting a false photo, to not mentioning being married!
So be clear about your intent. And read between the lines of others’ profiles and About Me answers. A healthy dose of initial skepticism won’t hurt. You can ask more questions as you converse online.
When should you actually meet in person?
Remember, a simple “wink” to your profile from someone, isn’t much of an effort. He or she is waiting for you to send the first actual message, or to indicate more curiosity by clicking on “like” or “favourite.”
Wait for someone to give you that stronger signal. Then, start talking to each other, but don’t rush a meeting after just one or two messages.
You might spook someone who’s still uncomfortable about meeting a “stranger” or someone seeming too aggressive.
Use Skype or other voice-conversation programs as soon as you both feel an interest.
Yet delaying meeting longer than a couple of weeks, is unwise. It encourages a superficial connection, often boosted with cutesy texts and sexting, even nude selfies.
And it builds imagined expectations of someone you still barely know.
Getting together is about body language, looking in the other person’s eyes, feeling chemistry. It all either attracts, clicks, or feels flat.
What about geography? Someone in another country can’t just “date” you in person, without having the time and money.
Reality Check: That’s the oft-used plea of a scammer…leading to requests to send money to help pay for a flight, or cover some other expense so you two can meet. Don’t fall for it.
When you’re sure about developing a long-distance romance, use Skype to see where the person lives and how he/she lives. Then, meet as soon as possible … or how will you ever plan a life together?