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10 ways to get the most out of online dating

Online dating is now more popular than ever with more and more singles from all over the world choosing to search for love on the Internet. Dating online is a fun, effective way to meet new people, make friends and form new relationships. If you're new to the concept, though, the experience can be a bit daunting at first. This online dating tutorial will help you get the most out of dating online.

1. Be comfortable with your decision

Like lonely hearts ads and introduction agencies, cyberdating used to be thought of as a last resort, but that is no longer the case. Internet dating offers singles freedom from traditional restrictions such as distance and allows even busy professionals and single parents the chance to socialise and find love. Another great advantage of online dating is the fact that it offers the chance to know more about a person before you meet them and make a more informed choice about who you would like to date.

2. Find the site that's right for you

There are literally thousands of dating sites out there, each catering for different people and their needs. Take your time and check out a few sites before committing to spending any money. Some sites are free to use and many sites offer a free trial, where you can search for singles in your area without paying any money up front. If a site isn't quite what you hoped for, try another one. There are millions of people on the Net and plenty of places for them to meet. Keep trying and you will find the right place for you. 3. Be clear about what you want

Dating (both on and offline) means different things to different people. Some people are looking for a serious relationship, while some just want to chat, date or have casual relations. It's important to be honest with yourself about what you're looking to gain from the online dating experience, even if you're just looking to try it out and have some fun. There are sites that cater for all forms of dating and some that are geared towards particular requirements. Being honest with yourself will help you make the right choice and avoid disappointment. When it's time to put your profile up on the site, being honest about your intentions will also help you attract likeminded people.

4. Put up a good profile

Like all first impressions, your profile or personal page on a dating site is extremely important. A good profile should be an accurate representation of who you are. It should also be geared towards making people want to get to know you. Never put yourself down, especially when it comes to your looks. There is a difference between being honest and realistic and letting your insecurities take over. Self promotion is not an easy task for most people, but it's important to remember that there is nothing wrong with being aware of your finer qualities. Concentrate on things you like about yourself, your interests, your dreams and anything else that sounds positive. If you're stuck, get your friends and family to tell you what they like about you and include that information in your description.

5. Upload your picture

Looks aren't everything, but surveys have shown that most online daters do prefer to contact people who have pictures on their profiles. Don't be afraid to upload a photo: a picture can make all the difference when someone is deciding whether to contact you or not. Even if you are unhappy with your looks, chances are there is someone out there who will find you attractive. Let him or her decide without adding apologetic comments about your looks underneath the picture. If at all possible, choose a picture where you are smiling and looking happy to add to the positive feel of the profile.

6. Don't be afraid to contact people

If you joined a site to meet people, don't be afraid of contacting others. After all, they are also on the site for much the same reason. If you like somebody's profile 'get in touch and let them know; you never know what might happen.

7. Treat people the way you would like to be treated

The novelty of online dating can sometimes make people forget there are actual human beings on the other side of the computer. Always be respectful of people's feelings, even if it turns out you and the other person are unsuitable for each other.

8. Good timing

The beauty of cyber dating is that you can afford to take your time before meeting people in person. It's good to get to know people online first, but if you feel the right moment has come to take things further 'don't be afraid of suggesting that. If you do, though, don't take it personally if the other person is not ready yet. Let them take their time.

9. Be safe

When dating (both on and off line) always use common sense. While the majority of people have honest intentions, it pays to be careful. Beware of people asking for money straight away, or those starting your online relationship by detailing a story of woes and asking for your help. It is advisable to never lend or give money to people you have only just met online.

When agreeing to meet people you met online, always meet in a public place and let friends or family know where you are if possible. It's perfectly acceptable to ask to bring a friend with you to your first meeting. Make a point of explaining that it's nothing personal and be wary of people who try to pressure you into meeting them alone. Remember: It's advisable to get to know people online and on the phone first before going to meet them in person.

10. Don't give up

There are millions of people dating online at any given time and chances are that if you persist, you will find the person who is right for you. Don't take rejection too seriously and keep trying. If one site is not working out for you, it may be worth trying another one and seeing if you have better luck there. If you follow the tips detailed below, you will be in a very good position to find what you are looking for online.

About the author:
Suzy Allen works for 'the UK's first free online dating site

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