Looking for love – A guide to online dating

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Today, many of us find that the quest for that special someone seems to feel the old country/western tune “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places.” In the old days, we met one another at church socials or through personal introductions.

Now, we meet folks via apps, hookup sites and Facebook. The Internet appears to be here to stay. Many people have found it a good way to meet people, but you have to be careful.

Dating Sites

There are many dating sites out there. Some are for everyone and some are just for bears. Do some research to see which one will best meet your needs. If you know someone who has used one of these sites, ask for a recommendation. Many offer free memberships, but often encourage you to upgrade to a paid membership. The advantages of doing this will vary by website. Sometimes the upgraded membership will allow you more services or put your name at the top of someone’s search list.

Your Privacy

Many sites offer the ability to have an anonymous email address. If someone wants to contact you, they email your anonymous email address and the response is either sent to you or you are notified that a message is waiting in your mailbox.

Your Profile

Here is your chance to describe who you are and who you want. Do a little soul searching and answer the questions honestly. Many services have very specific questions for you to answer (or not answer if you choose). You also often will have a chance to write short (or long) answers on certain topics. Spend some time on this to make sure you are giving a true picture of yourself. It is up to you to decide if you want to include a photo. If you do not want to post one for the world to see, you might want to have a nice digital one to send to someone you are considering meeting.

The Search

Often you can search by a variety of factors. Consider how large a search area you want. If you choose a larger search area, you will get more hits but you may have to travel more than you want. If you are looking for an email only relationship, then you can use a much larger search area. Give some thought to what is most important to you and define your search using those criteria. If astrological sign is important, then by all means search by that. Be careful not to limit yourself too much. You might be surprised at what comes up.

Be clear what you want.  Are you looking for LTR (online for Long Term Romance).  Remember his idea of a LTR might be 20 minutes.  If you’re looking for a trick and he’s looking for the Bear of his life – one of you is going to be disappointed.  Just be honest.

The Contact

If you find a profile that is interesting, by all means send them a message. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t respond or respond to say they have a partner or aren’t interested. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince (or princess).

The First Meeting

After a few email interactions, you may decide to meet in real time (and in real person). Use some common sense. Meet in a public place, such as a coffee shop. Arrange a short first meeting so if the chemistry is not there, then you haven’t given up a lot of your day. This is another advantage to the coffee date. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. A useful tool is to have someone call you on your cell phone during the date. If the date is not going well, you can use this as an excuse to leave early.

Use your common sense to on how to go forward. Different people will have different time lines for the next and following dates.

Be Careful

As with anything else on the Internet, you have to be careful. The anonymity of the Web lends itself to scams. Don’t be a victim. Use common sense when online, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember a few basic guidelines:

NEVER send money to people you have met online.

Be very suspicious of anyone of starts talking about money, when you’ve only chatted with on the Internet.

Never give anyone personal financial information bank account numbers, social security number, credit card information, driver’s license, home address or phone number.

When placing a personal ad, consider using a free email account. This protects your own email account and personal information.

Think very carefully before arranging a meeting. Always meet in a neutral, public place. Tell a friend or family member where you are going, how long you will be and when to expect to hear back from you.

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