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Can Online Dating Really Work?

Here are the dozen do's of online dating:

1. Offer a complete & honest profile. 2. Have an inviting screen name. 3. Post your photo. 4. Respond to others promptly. 5. Be light & humorous at first. 6. Pace your sharing. 7. Ask stimulating questions. 8. Give detailed answers. 9. If you're not interested, say so. 10. Handle rejection gracefully. 11. Move to the phone soon. 12. Take precautions before meeting.


Romance Coach,Leslie Karsner, PhD, offers her thoughts on the Dozen Do's...

1. OFFER A COMPLETE & HONEST PROFILE The extra minutes it takes to fill out a really winning profile will save hours in helping you find the most ideal matches. It would normally take two people in the offline world several dates to find out all that can be condensed into a profile. If you want to have kids, love physical exercise, perhaps you smoke occasionally, let's get that out in the open right off the bat. If you don't fill out your profile fully, it may appear that you're indifferent, uninvolved or just plain lazy. Don't fudge on your physical traits or financial situation based on what your goals are, however realistic they might be. If you knock a few years or pounds off, you might end up missing someone who is seeking someone exactly as you truly are. Not sure how to describe yourself? Ask a friend, not your mom.

2. HAVE AN INVITING SCREEN NAME Who says you can't name yourself?! A dater's screen name can reveal some taste or trait, but if it's too forward or too intimidating, you may lose unexpectedly wonderful prospects. On the other hand, an in-your-face screen name might get you just what you want! The point is, you'll have plenty of space in your profile for sharing your extraordinary and even outrageous qualities. If I had any advice on the matter, I'd have to suggest going with a modest, easily remembered name, since it's not only the initial hook but also something you and those you date have to live with for a while.

3. POST YOUR PHOTO Looks a good way! We all have certain physical features that others find attractive. By using a pic of your face as it really looks, you'll boost your odds for quality, genuine matches. Some people worry that if they put their picture up on a dating site they might be recognized by friends or family...even though this is hardly any different than being seen at a club. Take the "blind date" factor out of online dating by displaying (or e-mailing) a clear, recent pic. And shoot it with better lighting than you get in a club.

4. RESPOND TO OTHERS PROMPTLY You don't have to respond to initial e-mails from those interested parties who contact you if they don't appeal to you. But once you are interacting with one another, prompt responses keep things from falling flat. Just as you'd return a phone call in a timely manner, so should you respond to your online prospects 'if only to let them know you're busy and will have to catch up later. Some great matches will never be made because one person got impatient with the lapses in the other's response times. Momentum can matter here.

5. BE LIGHT AND HUMOROUS AT FIRST Starting things off on a light note, humming with humor, can be more pleasant and naturally engaging than getting too heavy too soon. Many of the weighty matters have already been detailed in your profiles, freeing you up to have fun with the initial interplay. If someone senses that you are singularly focused on the goal of finding a mate, and not having fun along the way, it could prove off-putting unless you're both similarly intense. This isn't a job interview - it's an adventure whose ending you shouldn't try to control! Focusing on the playful, lively process rather than idealistic goals will help you find true romance. And that's what leads to a great mate.

6. PACE YOUR SHARING Don't overshare. Divulging intimacies too soon can cause regrets later. Similarly, aggressive probing into personal matters can alienate your prospects. Take heart that you'll come to know certain things eventually as trust builds. You're more likely to arrive at a full, honest disclosure on matters if you don't rush things from the start.

7. ASK STIMULATING QUESTIONS The best way to get to know someone is to get them talking about themselves. This is easily done by asking questions based on what their profiles reveal. If you initially interact via e-mail, try to incorporate some real-time chatting early on via an instant message service.

8. GIVE DETAILED ANSWERS Some people respond to courting e-mails with curt, one-word answers. If someone is trying to engage you in an interaction, you'll want to provide them with enough details to move the communication forward. Offer up thoughtful responses, and try to end your response with another question. Interactivity is how you get to know someone, not just by flatly answering their questions.

9. IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED, SAY SO Nobody wants to be strung along, so it's better to let someone down sooner than later. If you've been contacted and don't feel that you're a match based on the suitor's message and/or profile, you have two options. Either ignore it like most people, or politely and kindly convey your disinterest in a response back. Mince words all you want, but let them undeniably spell out "pass".

10. HANDLE REJECTION GRACEFULLY If a prospect turns you down amid the daily flood of new subscribers, there is no reason to fret for long. And there's never a need to ask why there is no interest, since that's rude, pointless and there are thousands of other profiles for you to explore. When you take someone's disinterest with grace, you're more likely to have that person refer someone to you who might be better suited down the road. Take this opportunity to review your own profile and make sure that the descriptions and criteria you display are still right on the mark.

11. MOVE TO THE PHONE SOON If you're both feeling that there's some real chemistry here, you'll want to move things to the next level. Talking on the phone will broaden your impressions of one another. When it's mutually comfortable for your first face-to-face meeting, you'll know it, however long it takes.

12. TAKE PRECAUTIONS BEFORE MEETING Many people have an additional phone number just for online dating. If you only have one number, don't give it out just because someone is upset that you won't share it; exchange numbers once you achieve true comfort together. Before you meet in-person, choose a public place and alert a friend of your plans along with a time to expect a call, page or message from you after the date. Use the same care as if you were to go out on a first date with someone you had met at the market 'or anyone you don't really know yet. Whether or not you've met in person, if you don't know people in common, you should always proceed with caution.

I strongly advise online daters to meet in-person before developing any emotional attachments for one another.

Enjoy online dating wisely and in moderation, and if you find true love, don't be embarrassed to tell friends how you actually met!

About the author:
Romance Coach Leslie Karsner, PhD, author of The Long Distance Romance Guide, has been coaching people about romance all of her life! Editor of Love Letters Now!, Karsner also writes a weekly ezine filled with tips for heightening romance.

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