Online Dating 101

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2008

It's estimated that more than 40 million people now turn to online dating websites such as eHarmony, match.com, and JDate Use this online-dating primer, courtesy of relationship expert Matt Titus, to help you find your perfect match on the Internet.

Take a Current Photo
You most likely are not a professional photographer, so make the investment to have your pictures done in a studio with a professional. Unfortunately, when we date online, the first visual impression means quite a bit -- so spend the money to get a quality picture. And make sure to always use a current photo, taken within the same week you sign up on the online dating site. So much misrepresentation occurs online, especially in appearance; when someone posts a picture that is 10 years old and they show up to a first date looking that much older, it's not a good thing.

When Writing Your Profile, Don't Write a Biography
Learn to speak in sound bites, or short sentences with a lot of facts and meaning. Remember, when someone first comes across your profile they haven't fell in love with you -- yet -- so you aren't the sun, moon, and stars to them. A long, drawn-out profile will only make you look egotistical. Plus, it's a great idea to save all of these special facts for a face-to-face meeting.

Use the Instant-Messenger Feature on Dating Sites Minimally
Have you ever heard the old saying "a lot gets lost in translation"? Don't spend a lot of time using the instant messenger on dating sites for deep meaningful conversation. Additionally, a lot of online users come down with a touch of artificial confidence when they suddenly develop an overpowering sense of confidence, high self-esteem, and quick-witted humor. This comes from the fact that it is a lot easier to be courageous when you're sitting behind your keyboard in the comfort of your own home -- but what happens when you meet face-to-face?

Meet Everyone with Whom You're Corresponding Within a Week
Here is the most important rule of all: Try to meet everyone you start corresponding online with within seven days.

Arrange Your First Face-to-Face Date at a Comfortable Place
Arrange all of your first face-to-face dates during the day at comfortable coffee shops that are close to your home. Take a weekend and meet all of your love prospects on Saturday and Sunday afternoon of the same weekend. Schedule accordingly with 20 minutes of travel time between meeting places, and do not spend more than 45 minutes getting to know each person. You will look like you have a more interesting life if you don't sit there all afternoon. Meeting someone in person will give you a concrete idea of who you should pursue and who you should dismiss.

Avoid These Typical Online-Dating Mistakes
-Cliche or overused tag lines relating to romance or describing oneself. Be unique and creative; take a little time to make sure the real you is depicted in your profile.
-Do not over- or undersell yourself. Too much info can come off as arrogant or egotistical; to little can be boring.
-Not spell-checking before posting your profile -- it's an easy mistake to avoid.
-If you're over the age of 18, refrain from any symbols, numbers, or avatars associated with your profile.

Resources
Special thanks to relationship expert Matt Titus, author of "Why Hasn't He Called?" for offering these online-dating tips. For more relationship advice from Matt, visit sassybean.com.

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