Online dating is an exciting frontier, filled with possibilities around every corner - but before you begin returning those enticing emails, there are 10 rules you should abide by.
Your love life may be stalled for a number of reasons. A recently ended relationship might leave you stranded with a condensed social circle and feelings of loneliness. You might have experienced a recent change, like a divorce, graduating from college, or moving to a new city. No matter what the circumstance, it is hard to meet new people. Enter the world of online dating - full of variety, spice, and excitement. If you're new to the online dating scene, there are several things that everyone should know.
1. Plan ahead
Are you looking to just spend some time entertaining yourself in chat rooms? Looking for someone to hang out with on the weekends? Seeking a one night stand? Trying to find Mr. or Ms. Right? Determine your goals for online dating and stick to them - otherwise you might hurt the feelings of others or find yourself scraping up the pieces of another failed relationship.
2. Ask your friends
Online dating and chat rooms are standard tools for people of all walks of life looking for love or a little fun. Ask your friends what sites have worked for them in the past. Trust the opinions of those you already know rather than choosing a service at random.
3. Start slow
You may need to spend some time in chat rooms, email correspondence, or even via the telephone before you feel comfortable enough to meet someone. Take your time - there is no rush! Enjoy the process and embrace the excitement.
4. Tell the truth!
If you really want to experience success with online dating, you must be honest. While you cannot control the actions of others, maintaining accountability to yourself will thwart the temptation to attach someone else's picture to your profile or lie about your past.
5. Organize and prioritize
Online dating can be overwhelming. It's a lot easier to browse profiles of individuals that you know are looking for a relationship than to strike up a conversation with someone at the bar. Choose a few of the most interesting profiles, take notes, and limit yourself to corresponding with them at first. You can always look again if they don't work out, and this will avoid too much activity and confusing emotions.
6. Don't believe everything you see or read
If he or she sounds too good to be true, it's very possible that you're looking at a bad egg. Take your time getting to know someone. Check their story. If you have arrived to the point where personal information has been revealed, there are ways you can verify details. If a person claims they work at the local community college, you can check the phone directory for their name. Public record is a valuable resource!
7. Chat room etiquette
That old adage "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" still applies to online dating. Chat rooms often give people a sense of invincibility. When the fingers start flying, things tend to move fast and have the potential to get steamy. Stop. Think. If you wouldn't say it to a complete stranger face-to-face, don't say it at all.
8. Paying for an online dating service might not be so bad
Websites that charge for entering chat rooms or making an online dating profile may turn you off at first glance. You might feel embarrassed or afraid to shell out hard earned money to a dating website; however, you can rest assured that if someone is willing to make the investment it costs to participate in online dating circles, it's possible that they are very serious and willing to go the extra mile for you!
9. Be available
Don't have access to the internet everyday? This might cause problems in the online dating world. Those who try this method of socialization like to think they'll receive quick responses. Be available, consider setting aside a specific time to spend in the chat room, and respond to emails in a timely fashion. Otherwise, you might find your potentials losing interest.
10. Safety first, second, and third
When you've gathered your confidence and found somebody you want to meet face-to-face, remember that you don't know what to expect. Meet in a public place. Drive your own car so that you can maintain control of your environment, and leave if you feel uncomfortable. Even if the first date leads to a second, or third, keep in mind that you've only just met, and there is no need to rush.
Aelicia Anderson has been involved in online dating sites for over ten years and is widely considered an expert in the industry. When not writing her popular dating advice column Aelicia can often be found hanging in her favourite chat rooms.