Online Dating for Beginners
When online dating first took-off in the mid-nineties, it offered something that was entirely new and unique.
It empowered people by giving them a way to find and communicate instantly with thousands of other people from other parts of the world and from all walks of life.
It has come a long way since that time. The number of people now using dating services is huge and growing every day. According to a recent report by Comscore, about 30-million Americans and about 37-million Europeans were actively using dating sites as of July 2006. Many of the leading sites claim well over 10-million members.
Of course, as well as the mega sites, there are also plenty of smaller-scale dating sites, the equivalent to cyber-towns, as well as lots of smaller special interest sites that offer services for people who share something in common. Where you go, and what you do is entirely up to you, and really depends on what you are looking for. But needless to say, there’s something for just about everyone. It’s generally best to decide what you want before signing-up, so that you choose the service that’s right for you.
If you’re prepared to travel, that gives you more options and means you have more choice about which sites you use. You should also consider the type of relationship you are looking for. Would you prefer an open forum where you contact other people, or would you prefer to be paired up with someone’
So what’s on offer? Here’s a brief overview.
Popular dating services offer an open forum, where you can browse picture profiles of thousands of other members. Most services offer the ability to search for people by location, by personal characteristics, by interest and hobbies, among many other things. The most popular sites include Match.com, Mate1, and FriendFinder, but there are many others that are well worth a look. Most sites offer a free trial, but generally you need to become a paying member if you want to contact somebody.
Matchmaking services offer additional features such as profiling and compatibility testing to help you find your ideal partner. Some sites, such as eHarmony will even do the matchmaking for you suggesting which people are most suited to you. For those who are security conscious, True.com and Honestyfirst.com screen all potential members to ensure they are not married, or criminals. They claim to have prevented many undesirables from slipping through by doing such checks.
Free dating services are popping up more and more these days. They usually make ends meet by showing ads on their sites. So if adverts don’t bother you, why not check out one of the free sites, such as Pof.com, or OkCupid.com.
Special interest sites bring people together with something in common such as being a single parent, religious beliefs, age, or a certain hobby.
Adult dating is for those who are looking for something short-term and casual, without commitment.
Here are some dos and don’ts
When using dating services, having realistic expectations is important. People often become dissatisfied when they have unrealistic ideas about the people they are going to meet. The result is that women often complain that they are approached by men who they see as losers, while the men complain that they write to women who never reply.
Men should avoid the shotgun approach of cutting and pasting carbon copy letters to dozens of women. You’re unlikely to get many replies doing this. Instead, personalize the letter, and only write to those women you are genuinely interested in. Nobody is flattered by a scripted, impersonal letter.
For women, there’s nothing wrong with making the first approach. If you are looking for something specific, you should put this into your profile. If you don’t get the responses you expect, ask the help of a friend to revise your profile. Try to reply to genuine letters, even if it is just a polite “no thanks”. At least the man knows, and is not left waiting in hope.
- Read the guidelines on the site to see what is permitted and what is appropriate.
- Make sure you are aware of the site’s cancellation policy and any automatic re-billing.
- Post a good quality photo.
- Have realistic expectations about who you may meet.
- Aim to meet quickly if you like the person. But ask to see them by webcam before you arrange to meet them in person – or get too involved.
- Post anything too confidential in your profile.
- Give out too much information until you know the person.
- Fall for “hard-lucky” stories and be tempted to send money to anyone. Be especially wary of people who want to correspond through private email or messaging very early after you meet.