The Internet is everywhere, and with people working longer hours and facing fewer opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex, it's no wonder online dating has taken off. But popularity aside, is online dating right for you? And how great is it for meeting that special someone?
Online dating is great for people who are new in town, travel on business, or are simply shy. It addresses the problem of where to meet people and removes some of the awkwardness associated with that initial connection. It also offers the chance to get to know people you'd never get to meet otherwise.
If you're ready to get back into the dating world but want to avoid the club or just don't know where to start, an online dating service can help you to find someone who shares your interests from the comfort of home and at a slower pace. Online dating guides you to a specific targeted audience based on your preferences and interests.
How do you know if someone is right for you if their profile is vague or, worse, fake? Online dating can make it more difficult to sort out the good dates from the bad dates because you never know if what you see is what you'll really get. Be wary of false representations and always check resources and verify information provided.
Because of the way many dating sites are set up, they put an emphasis on finding a match based on physical attraction as opposed to compatibility. A few matchmaking sites have developed extensive questionnaires and preliminary tests to identify your personality traits, values, and expectations in order to pair you with someone of similar interests, but these can be narrow minded.
Recommendations for Online Dating
Find a Service You Trust
Ask yourself what you're looking for, and then find an online service that's right for you. Some services cater to people looking for casual dates while others cater to a more serious crowd. There are also services out there for people who have special interests or belong to certain ethnic groups or faiths.
Protect Your Information
Keep your personal information (name, address, phone number, place of work) to yourself when creating your profile and talking online with dating prospects. Always create a secondary email for correspondence purposes and privacy. Take your time, and do not self disclose too much personal information.
See if You're Compatible
Use email to find out more about the person and to see if you're compatible. One to two emails should be enough to determine if a date is in order. Be honest about your expectations and intentions. Online dating can often be a longer process than traditional dating as individuals focus on communication as opposed to personal appearances.
Watch for Warning Signs
Pass on anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable, gives conflicting information, or just seems "not right." If you ever feel threatened or in any danger, get offline or excuse yourself and call a friend or the police.
Meet in a Public Place
Choose a safe place in an area you know well for your first date. Tell a friend or family member where you're going and who you're going to meet. As with any date, always give pertinent information about your date to a trusted friend or family member. Drive yourself, and pass on inviting your date back to your place---at least until you know each other better.
Online dating can be a great way to find that special someone, especially if you find yourself too busy to meet people or too old for the club scene. The key to a successful cyber relationship is finding the right service for you, knowing what you want, and staying safe.
Visit ConsumerAffairs, a consumer news and advocacy organization, for a guide containing comparisons and reviews of online dating sites and services.