Online Dating Do's And Don'ts


Here are a few things to keep in mind while surfing the internet for the man of your dreams.

Whether you're looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, an interesting person to hang out with and have fun, or a companion to share your twilight years, on-line dating has become the go-to source for love, romance, or fabulous friendships.

Thanks to internet dating sites, you no longer have to "chat up" strangers in smoky bars, or go on blind dates set up by your well-meaning elderly relatives. But while you are surfing for the man or woman of your dreams, there are a few do's and don'ts that you should adhere to in order to stay safe, weed out the whackos, and increase your odds of achieving eternal bliss.

Your visuals

It may be tempting to post a picture of yourself when you were fifty pounds lighter or use Photoshop to decrease the size of your proboscis, but don't. Let them see you as your really are.

• Do pick a recent photo, preferably one where you're smiling.

• Don't show too much skin. Forgo the bikini shots or supposed seductive poses in your Leopard print Speedo.

• Don't hide behind sunglasses. People perusing your profile will want to see your baby blues.

• Don't take pictures with your expensive car or sprawling mansion. If you actually own these things, people may go out with you for the wrong reasons. And, if these were merely props, you'll wind up looking like a twit when the truth surfaces.

• Don't pick your dates based solely on appearance. Most people do not look like supermodels and in the process of finding someone who does, you may be overlooking your soul mate.

Your story

The trick to creating an awesome profile is to sell yourself without telling fibs or giving too much away.

• Do use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

• Do try to set yourself apart by telling viewers what makes you special and grab their attention with a creative headline.

• Don't use cliches. Everyone loves moonlight strolls on the beach. Be original and authentic, instead.

• Don't disclose any personal or identifying information.

Your privacy

Unfortunately, the internet--just like the real world--has its share of dangerous predators, and you need to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when engaging in online dating.

• It is recommended that you open a separate e-mail account for all internet dating communications and select an e-mail account name that is generic and in no way reveals who you are.

• When registering with the dating service, use a post office box instead of your street address. Only provide your cell phone number, never your land line. It is even recommended that you use your post office box as your cell phone's address as well.

• Try not to access your online dating account through a shared public computer. If this is unavoidable, exercise caution to protect your privacy.

• Ensure that your computer is equipped with a privacy checker.

Getting to know the right person

Before meeting someone in person, it is recommended that you converse with them on your cell phone for a while first. If your potential paramour has been relying on their friends to craft their clever e-mails, it will become obvious on the phone. Plus, chatting will give you a better idea of their true personality.

• Do research your date as thoroughly as possible online before meeting them. If they have a lousy online reputation---or none at all--you will likely want to move on to someone else.

• When you decide that you want to meet them face-to-face, pick a public place and let friends and loved ones know where you are going and when you plan to be home.

• Do keep your cell phone on your person and always keep your wallet or purse on you too--even when you go to the washroom. You do not want this stranger to have access to your personal information.

• Do drive yourself to your dates, stay perfectly sober, and remain in public locations. You do not want to go to your dates' house or have them to yours until you know them much better.

• Do not reveal your full name, home address, home telephone number, or your employer until you know them well. He or she may be a perfectly nice person, but they may also be a Jeffrey Dahmer or Lizzie Borden.

Red Flags

If you ever watch Dr. Phil, you have likely been both dazed and amazed by just how gullible some on-line daters can be. These seemingly normal people profess their undying love to kindred spirits that they have never met--sending them thousands of dollars and swallowing outrageous tales of misfortune and circumstance. Here are a few red flags that will tell you that you are dealing with a con.

• They use words like "destiny," "fate," or "soul mate" early in the relationship or profess that they can't live without you.

• They ask for money--no matter how little.

• They claim to be an American abroad.

• They want to "take your conversation" away from the online dating provider and to an outside chat room.

• They claim to have been recently widowed, falsely imprisoned, recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, or have been "deterred" in Afghanistan or Iraq.

• They make a large amount of grammar or spelling mistakes that could lead one to believe that English is not their first language.

• They "borrow" phrases and love poems from other sites.

• They try to get personal information out of you.

On-line dating is here to stay and it can be a great way to meet the person of your dreams. The trick is to use it wisely, protect yourself, and if it seems too good to be true--it probably is.

What tips do you recommend for protecting yourself on online dating sites?