Everything You Need To Know About Online Dating

how to date online
Love, Self

Important online dating tips from two women who have tried it. Maybe the push you need to sign up!

Online dating. Yes. We said it. And, as it so happens, we've done it, too.

The once super taboo, let's-come-up-with-another-story-about-how-we-met form of meeting people is becoming ever more popular in a culture that has less and less free time and fewer real opportunities to be introduced to the right people. We do everything else online—so why not meet people there, too? Excelle: Poll: Online Dating, Yes or No?

To all you single-and-looking ladies out there who might think, "Uh, I'm not sure if I'm ready for that," hopefully we can help ease you into it. Because as weirded out as our parents (and even our own friends) may be by the idea, the Matches, eHarmonys, and OKCupids of the dating realm will only become ever more prevalent in the coming years, especially for working—and over-worked—professionals.

What's more, your pool of singletons has grown even larger in the past year, thanks to an economy-in-shambles. With less money to spend on entertainment (and let's face it, more time at home for those unlucky enough to have lost their jobs), people are spending more and more time online than out and about. Instead of their local watering hole, singles are perusing the online personals for dates.

What does this mean for you? It means you've got more talent to choose from than ever before. And when it comes to finding your match, choice means the difference between swooning and settling.

Sold yet? You will be. 

We'll tell you why you should get online, which sites to use, how to maximize your success, what we've learned from our experiences, and how to date safely... we'll even give you a sneak peak at what men think about all this! Excelle: 5 Ways to Get a Man to Listen

Why Try It?

First of all, the term "online dating" is a bit misleading. You don't date online. You meet online. The dating itself happens in person, just like any other date. That having been said, being introduced to new people through these targeted sites is a great way to filter out the people you know right away won't be a fit.

Think you're too busy for dating? Think again! Excelle: The Professional Women's Guide to Dating

1. Save Yourself Time

As a busy lady, we completely understand that the time you have to commit to your personal life is limited, even more so for the time you have for your dating life. With a schedule that's packed full of work-related ventures, hours at the gym (or at yoga, pilates, tennis, kickboxing, out walking, running, what have you!), errands, frivolous shopping, plans with friends and family (and perhaps with the kids), how could you possibly find room for a romantic relationship?

Don't make us say it, but you can. With online dating, that's how.

Anything that will save you time in the long run must be worth it, right? With online dating, you don't have to waste your precious time dating a person to figure out you never should have gone on a date with them in the first place. Not to say that everyone you meet online will be a perfect fit, but at least with online dating, your odds are better at the start.

2. Strategize

Online dating also gives you the advantage of managing your dates just like you might your client meetings or appointments, and lets you create a strategy and plan ahead to fit them into your schedule.

Unlike having to rely on the spontaneity and unreliability of follow up from the people you meet out and about, with online dating, it's possible to schedule three dates in one day... if you wanted to. Though, from personal experience, we can tell you it's quite exhausting and requires an immense capacity for taking mental notes. But you get the idea.

3. Reference Points

Even if you're an extremely social person and have no problem meeting others offline, online dating opens your door to people who you'd never otherwise meet. It immediately expands your network beyond people you know, people your friends and family know, people your coworkers know, and the people who frequent the same places you do. It's a much larger pool from which fish. Or, as one of our colleagues puts it, a man buffet.

With online dating, you can gather a lot of reference points in a short amount of time, and it's an immediate reminder that there are a lot of other singles out there.

Over the course of my three-month Match.com membership, I met a firefighter (who could barely follow along with romantic comedies), a football coach (who broke the put your phone away rule repeatedly), four software engineers (Hey, it's Silicon Valley!), an entrepreneur (Boy, did he know how to dance, among other things), a rocket scientist (yes! Literally!) and an aeronautical engineer (whose impeccable style rivaled even my own). So don't say there are no men out there. We won't believe you! You just have to put yourself out there and give it a go!

The Sites

You might be thinking "Where do I even start?" Once you've defined what it is you're looking for or open to, it's the fun part! Choose a site—or a couple, if you're up for it!—that best matches your intentions.

When you put the alternatives side-by-side, some will likely pop out over others because, beyond your desire to find a hook-up or a lifetime partner, there are multiple other factors to consider, such as how much it costs to be a member, the number of listed people in your area, and how—or if—they have a special system for calculating match quality.

As you browse around the sites, you'll get a sense of where you might fit in most comfortably. Do some innocent poking around at who's available (and perhaps at the competition?)—you'll immediately get a sense for both the site's, and their matches', quality.

So here's a brief, non-exhaustive guide of some sites to consider (in no particular order):