Online dating has come a long way. There’s no longer a stigma to finding love online.
The Online Dating Association says it is now the largest single way in which relationships start in the world.
It definitely works, but to make the most of online dating here are the experts top 10 tips:
1. Choose your site wisely
Just choosing a dating site, let alone for a date, can be quite daunting as there are so many options.
Some match you with potential partners, while with others you have free rein to browse and pick your own.
Two of the biggest sites are Match and eHarmony. With Match, which has millions of members, there’s plenty of choice but you may have to go through hundreds of profiles to find your ideal date whereas eHarmony suggests dates for you based on compatibility.
If you prefer having control over your choices, or know which qualities will or won’t suit you, you might prefer sites that let you choose who to contact.
2. Don’t be too choosy
When you are going through the reams of potential partners on the internet – or when you meet them on a date – it’s all too easy to have a shopping list mentality. ‘He’s too short, I don’t like her eyes, or he doesn’t make enough money’.
eHarmony’s relationship advice expert Jenni Trent Hughes suggests not being too judgmental. “Try turning down the volume on your inner critic on a superficial front, you may just discover you’re a better judge of character, and are better able to decide if your date is someone that you connect with on a new level,” she says.
3. Pick someone with similar interests
If you have an overriding interest or outlook, there are plenty of niche sites out there. There’s uniform dating for people who work in uniforms, vegetarian dating, sites for older people or for those with children.
There are also online agencies specifically for Christian, Jewish or other religions.
There’s a dating site for art lovers and, if you are outdoorsy, there are a number of suitable sites.
“If you are looking for a partner with a similar outlook and interests as yourself, the best place to start is with a niche dating website,” says co-founder of Muddy Matches Lucy Reeves.
“Muddy Matches, is aimed at people who live a ‘muddy-boots’ lifestyle, so attracts people who enjoy an outdoors lifestyle.”
4. Be honest
It’s tempting to stretch the truth when writing your profile or use a photo from ten years ago. But the advice is not to do it, as your date may be disappointed when you meet in person.
Denise Knowles from relationship service Relate says: “With more and more people meeting via the internet, the big thing is to be honest from the start as you will get found out.”
Jenni from eHarmony adds: “Just as your online dating profile should accurately represent who you really are, your dating encounters should be equally as authentic.
“Don’t pretend to be something or someone that you’re not in an effort to impress a potential partner. Be genuine, and let your character and charm speak for themselves.”
4. Think about paying
Some sites are free, but for most sites you have to pay and it can get quite expensive. It’s often the case that the more serious people are about finding a mate the more likely they are willing to pay a subscription.
So you may find more time-wasters on free sites.
6. Narrow your focus
Online dating can be a real time-saver if you know exactly what you want.
For example, if you definitely don’t want a partner with children, remove that option straight off. Likewise, if it’s important that a date lives in your area you can weed the rest out.
DJ Nic last used a dating site seven years ago and is still with the same woman. “They are a great way to stop all the messing about as you can ask direct questions to the other person to see if you match, rather than wasting time going on unfruitful dates.”
7. Get ready for rejection
Don’t take a rejection to heart. Just because you didn’t connect with one date, it doesn’t mean it’s your fault. They may want someone who is a different age or lives closer to them.
It works both ways. You may like someone as a person, but feel no romantic connection to them – so feel free to say no to dates that you know won’t work.
8. Beware of exaggeration
Even if you are honest about yourself, expect a degree of exaggeration from potential partners. They are trying to sell themselves to you so may over egg their attributes and achievements.
They are bound to look better in their profile photo. No-one is going to post a picture of them at their worst. Beware phrases like ‘carrying a few extra pounds’ or ‘cuddly’.
Read between the lines in profiles. Could ‘bubbly’ be annoying? Is their idea of ‘great personality’ the same as yours? Does ‘manly’ mean very hairy? What might ‘unconventional’ mean? Also, some people may say they are single when they are actually married.
9. Less is more at first
Don’t give too much away too soon. Gradually reveal details about yourself and don’t post photos that are overly sexy.
Policewoman Nicola has had experience of this. “Online dating sites are full of people who want to get to the flirty email stage before they even say hello! And that’s just the ordinary ones!”
10. Stay safe
Never give out personal information or send money to anyone. Use your first name only and give personal details only when you have got to know each other well. Follow your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, steer clear.
Meet in a public place like a cafe or pub. Tell a friend where you are going and who with and when to expect you back. Make sure you don’t get drunk.