Internet dating is now the second most popular way (after meeting through friends) to find a relationship. Some time ago it was for the socially inept or the desperate but not anymore. Now it's mainstream, recent research in the US suggests that around 30% of relationships begin online.
If you have not done this before, then where to start? The first decision is to decide which of the many dating sites to choose. There are so many it's bewildering but there are two distinct types. There are serious ones where genuine people are looking for other genuine people who want a relationship and the 'adult' sites where they are only looking for sex and are very explicit in setting out their needs and expectations. Don't go there unless that's what you want.
Once you have researched the one that is best for you the here are some thoughts and ideas which might help you navigate a course towards a successful relationship.
Be prepared to be rejected because it's going to happen
Don't take rejection to heart, it's difficult but you really do need to get used to it. Just because you didn't connect with one person, it doesn't mean it's your fault. There are so many reasons why this may have happened but in the end it's about chemistry or lack of it. Or it could be something as simple as the age difference or they want someone who lives closer to them.
This works both ways. You may like someone as a person but feel that there is no romantic chemistry. So if that happens then it's best to say so straight away if you feel that it's not going to work out. If rejection is inevitable then it is best done quickly
It's very tempting to stretch the truth as you write your profile or use a photograph from several years ago. But it never works to your advantage as the truth will be apparent when you meet. Your date may be disappointed and the whole meeting will start of badly and might well not recover from the subterfuge.
In fact it's probably best to understate in your profile and then surprise and delight your date when you meet. If you are asked for your 'body type' and you choose 'average' when actually you are rather proud of your gym toned physic then your date will be pleasantly surprised.
Honesty, however, can go too far. Most profiles on the quality sites present an optimistic well rounded picture of the person. This is usually not totally accurate and probably nor should it be. The reality of the situation especially amongst the ever increasing battalions of over fifty daters is that all is not well in their lives and their relationship baggage will only be apparent as you get to know the person.
This is OK. Nobody is going to say I have just come out of a bad marriage/relationship and I'm pretty hurt and depressed but I like to meet you for a date. Be as honest as you can but also be realistic.
Don't be too choosy
Especially as you start out have an open mind about who you put on your mental shortlist. It's not like going to the supermarket when you might take a carefully thought out list of stuff you need and have every expectation of getting each item right down to the freshly baked all butter croissant. That's a mind-set that works well for shopping but not for finding a relationship.
Don't expect to be able to find a prospective date who meets all your criteria and whom you therefore believe will be the ideal, sure fire prospect. Two things might happen. He or she looks at your profile and thinks 'probably not' so you might be sunk from the start. Or when you meet the man or woman who ticks all the boxes they turn out to be the most boring person in the known universe!
Keep an eye out for the crazy people
If you keep with the mainstream sites you will not have to many surprises and certainly not unpleasant ones. However, even on these sites there can be people who are not quite what they appear to be. Because of the anonymity you have on the site this poses no threat and is easily dealt with. So it's very important never give out any personal information or send money to anyone. Only do this after you have met and only then if you are totally happy doing that. Follow your instincts and if you get a bad vibe, shut down and end it straight away.
Meet in a public place like a cafe or pub for just for a coffee. It is the best way to go, it's easy and the safest way to meet. Tell a friend where you are going, who you are meeting and when to expect you back. Lastly don't forget your mobile phone and make sure it's charged.
The magic of the internet has opened up so many new possibilities in our lives and become an indispensable part of the way we live. It has transformed dating and made finding the right partner so much more possible. Use it wisely and carefully and you will find the relationship or partner that you want.