David Bakke is a single father currently living in Atlanta. In addition to dating tips, he shares his experiences with money management and business on Money Crashers Personal Finance. Okay, fellas, let me clue you in on a cold, hard truth: The online dating world is unforgiving and incredibly frustrating no matter how you slice it. And yet more and more people are clicking in every day, so there must be something to it. What's the trick to finding your dream mate via the web? If you want some real advice from a guy who has been around the block a time or two, read on...
1. Be Honest
This should be a no-brainer. Seriously, if you hope to move on to step two, don't lie in step one. If you're 20 pounds overweight, posting a photo from back when you were buff will cut it, sure, but not for long. And be upfront in your profile. If you drive a beater, say so, or don't address it at all. If you work out once a month, it's probably best not to say you run marathons. Don't overinflate your status at your job or in your community. Just be you — no more, no less. Remember, if it's not good enough online, it clearly won't work in person.
2. Don't Post Your Best Photo
Although this may sound counterintuitive, it goes hand in hand with what's above. They say pictures don't lie, but really, that's not always the case. Some flatter us more than we deserve. In keeping with being honest, post a shot that looks like you - perhaps a shot of you doing something you love, so your happiness shines through. By doing anything misleading, you're creating unnecessary expectations and just setting yourself up for disappointment.
3. Plan for Rejection
Granted, this sounds a bit Woody Allenñish, but take heed: People get blown off all the time in online dating. And sometimes it's after a date that seemed practically perfect in all respects. The woman could be exactly what you're looking for, and you might already be envisioning your future together, but there's just no accounting for taste. It takes two to make a match. It's tough to deal with, but it's a reality. Go in knowing you'll pass through a slew of Miss Wrongs before you find ... well, you know the drill.
4. Meet — As Soon as Possible
Photos and profiles only tell part of the story. And far too many times, the chemistry seems electric as you spend hours on the phone. But it's not real until it's real. If you're feeling a mutual attraction, waste no time in planning a first date idea. If you're as interested in each other at the end of that night as you both were when you were planning it, then you're onto something.
5. Reach Out to Several People
You never know where your next love is going to appear from, and while profiles and pics can be deceiving in a negative fashion, it can also go the other way. Sometimes, purely by the looks of a profile, you'll pass by several attractive, interesting women whom you might like were you to meet in different circumstances. Don't be rash, and give people a chance. Strike up a conversation, and see where it goes. At the very least, you've had a nice chat. At the most, you've ignited a new love.
6. Understand the Difference Between Paid and Free Dating Sites
During my first go-round with online dating, I purchased a six-month subscription to Match.com. Although I never found anything long-term, all the women I met were serious about finding a partner. That tends to be the case when people spend their hard-earned money. If you opt for a free service, you'll find a whole new ballgame. It could be filled with fake profiles or misleading write-ups. I've met women on free sites who posted a pic of their daughters and called it their own. It's humorous to me now, but at the time it sort of hurt. It's possible to find a connection on sites that offer their services free, but generally, the old adage is true: Money talks.
Online dating has lots of benefits. You can certainly meet a lot more women this way than by sitting on a barstool waiting for Cinderella. But if an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. Any woman offering fast sex or needing fast favors may very well be trying to rip you off. The Internet is an anonymous entity, so be open but cautious. Do you have any online dating stories you'd like to share?
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