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The ABC's of Online Dating

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Dating
Looking to spice up your life a little or add some romance...or maybe find that perfect love connection?

Cool! Jump right in...the online dating waters are just fine and you will have lots of company. There are over THREE MILLION others already splashing around when you do decide to take the plunge!!

If you're new, or relatively new to the online dating scene, this article should get you headed down the right path. Follow the tips and recommendation presented here and your initial experiences will be more enjoyable, and yield better results.

Do a search of "online dating" and you will be presented with more than 2.9 MILLION web pages from which to make your selection! Hmm... a bit overwhelming to say the least. But don't let the huge numbers discourage you. Try the dating preparation and selection methods described, and you will easily find your perfect dating site match.

So your first order of business is to get yourself matched up with one or more online dating sites that fit you and your needs. The questions below should help you narrow things down.

What Type Dating Site?

Plain Vanilla - no ethnic, religious, or cultural themes. Asian, Black/Ebony/African American, Italian, Jewish, Senior Citizen, the list goes on...

Do some searching using the terms below as a guide.

"online dating" senior
"online dating" Christian
"online dating" African American
"online dating" Asian

"online dating"

Get the idea? A search on each of the examples above will pretty much yield what you would expect.

If you're on a tight budget, just add the word "free".

"online dating" free
"online dating" senior free ...etc.

You will need to look a little harder to find high quality free dating sites or personal services. REALLY FREE dating sites with lots of members, lots of activity, and lots of member services are pretty hard to come by. You'll understand better after you do a few searches for free dating websites.

A search for dating reviews and forums can also be helpful.

"online dating" review OR reviews
"online dating" forum OR forums

With the dating related forums, you can read about good and bad experiences others have had with particular dating and personals web sites.

Dating services reviews will give you some good info as well. Look for genuine, unbiased reviews. Many of the dating review sites out there are willy-nilly listings someone threw together to earn commissions.

Another way to find good dating sites is by asking friends and co-workers who may have tried, or are using online dating or personals services. You may be surprised to find out how many of your single friends are members of a personals site.

How Much?

Monthly fees vary widely, but the average is around 24. Most dating and singles sites will give you a discount if you pay for two or months in advance.

I would suggest you only buy into a one month membership with any new dating service you join. If you decide you like it simply extend your membership. If you don't like the service, you cut your losses at one month, and avoid the hassles of requesting a refund, or canceling billing.

Tight Budget Dating Tip: Most free dating sites have low activity, and member activity is what makes personals and dating sites tick.

Solution: Join 3, 4 or more free dating sites. If you find that their combined activity serves your needs... you're good to go. If not, you'll have gained a good familiarity with online dating, and a better understanding of what you want, when and if you decide to plunk down some bucks for a paid membership.

Telling Your Pool-Side Story

Now write your story (aka: member profile). No great detail; just write like you're writing to the man or woman you seek. Write a little about you, stating one or more of your unique qualities. Write a little about the person you're seeking.

You'll save some time if you write and save all your profile data to a text editor or word processor file. Then, you can COPY and PASTE it to the proper areas of your online dating profile.

As things change, and as you grow, you will want to update and modify your profile statements.

A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words

You will generally get 3 to 10 time better response with a posted photo than without. People don't generally spend much time on profiles with no photos... so take the hint.

If you don't own a digital camera, web cam, or scanner, take a few photos and a diskette to your local Office Depot, Staples, or general office supply store. They should be able to scan and copy your photos to your diskette. Then you can easily add one or more to your dating site profile. You could also ask friends and relatives who own a digital camera or scanner.

Digital cameras are very inexpensive these days. Check eBay for some of the best deals.

Stay Focused and On-Track

You may want to start a journal, (on paper, or in a text file), to log your "love search" progress. Make notes of URL links of sites you like (you should also bookmark these sites), restrictions, any new member specials, member benefits and services, monthly fees, etc.

When I first started, I also wrote out a statement describing what I wanted to accomplish by joining a dating site. You may want to do the same. These statements and a well-kept journal will help keep you focused and organized. Organized endeavors always yield greater results than haphazard approaches.

Safe-Date Policies

This is actually part of the title of an upcoming article, but I mention it here to stress the use of common-sense, safety, and caution when dealing with ANY dating situation - on or offline.

Now... jump in your skivvies and take the dive!