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Ten Do’s and Don’ts of Internet Dating

The Internet provides a way to meet people who have interests similar to yours. Some Internet dating sites prescreen individuals for compatibility. Other sites allow listings of personal ads. If you have decided to find you soul mate via the Internet, here are the basic rules:

  • Be precise: When writing an Internet personal ad or filling out an online dating questionnaire, be as specific as possible. Think about who you are and what makes you unusual and list both your successes and your failures. Mentions of moonlight strolls, or walks in the park are meaningless. Instead, you might say, “I’m a homebody who really loves cooking, but also likes camping.” Saying, “I’m looking for someone who is not afraid of snakes, but also is not a carnivore” sets you apart as a vegetarian camper with a big vocabulary.

  • Make your English teacher proud: Check and then double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Ask a discreet friend to read your listing over to make sure it makes sense and has no major lapses of logic, taste, or grammar. Always do a spell check.

  • Keep the fibs to a minimum: You will avoid disappointment by being honest about who you are: Your age should be within several years of your actual age. Make sure any physical description correlates with what your mirror reflects. If you’re a little heavy, then say, “I’m a little heavy.”

    As for sexual history, don’t go there! Your indiscretions are best forgotten or dealt with in the confessional or therapy, but certainly not on the Web site with strangers.

  • Use an appropriate photo: You don’t have to post a picture with your description, but the number of responses increases if you do. Here are some tips on using a picture:

    • Use a fairly recent picture.

    • Don’t use your cute friend’s picture or your brother’s bar mitzvah picture.

    • Avoid flattering, glam shots because you want very little discrepancy between the picture and what you really look like.

    • Don’t even think about using a picture of yourself with your arm around somebody of the opposite sex.

    • Be careful about using props like dogs, boats, or a fancy car. This is about you, so it should be a good head shot of you alone.

    • Don’t be tempted to be too sexy in your picture because unless you’re looking for a one-night stand, you’re going to send the wrong message.

  • Provide only a cell phone number: The person who found you on the Web is a stranger. So don’t give your home phone number, which someone could track to your address.

  • Date within a 25-mile radius: When you’re investing in the specific intent to find somebody, be reasonable and sensible and play the odds. Find somebody who is in your zip code so that you can actually get to know each other without the constraints that a long-distance relationship places on things.

  • Meet publicly and make sure someone knows where you are: Remember that the person you meet online is a stranger.

  • Don’t stay online too long before a meeting: Studies show that looking at a computer screen gives a false sense of intimacy with a resulting loss of inhibitions. When you’re dealing with strangers, as you are in online dating, inhibitions serve a valuable and healthy function.

  • Never online date on an office computer: Keep your personal life and your office life separate. Remember you company will have access to anything you do on their equipment.

  • Don’t get seduced in online “shopping”: Beware of juggling too many people at the same time. While it’s perfectly okay to go slowly and initially see more than one candidate, especially if your dates are continuing also online, the giddiness of “so many profiles, so little time” can be self-defeating.

  • Don’t rely on humor or sexual innuendo: Senses of humor can differ depending on gender, age, culture, mood, or ethnicity or the context in which the humor is used. Given the fact that you’re not going to be privy to any of this up front, err on the side of safety by being as straightforward as possible.

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