Online Dating 101 - A Guide for Beginners

Apr 27


Dr. Alex Wu

Dr. Alex Wu

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Here are advice on how to make your online dating effective and safe!


Just like in offline dating,Online Dating 101 - A Guide for Beginners Articles it takes time, caution, and hard work to find your match online. Here is our 101 of how to make your online dating effective and safe.

Your Profile

In online dating, your profile makes the first impression, literally. It leaves a potential match wanting to know you more or move on to the next profile. The following tips will help your profile stand out and be more effective.

·         Write clearly who you are and what you are looking for. Do some soul searching, if necessary. A vague profile attracts the wrong people, which can turn your dating experience disappointing and time-consuming.

·         Stay positive. Don't dwell on the negatives, e.g., previous relationships. Everyone has had bad relationships, but you don't need to talk about them in your profile. This will send a message to potential dates that you are a negative person and that you don't have a history of healthy relationships. What if you HAVE TO mention certain negative life experience? End it with a positive note, for example, what you've learned or how you've grown out of it to be a better person. Keep in mind, just like you, everybody else is looking for someone who can contribute something positive to a relationship.

·         Be honest. Online dating makes misrepresentations much easier. However, people who succeed in online dating are those who are honest and confident about themselves. And their confidence attracts potential partners. A lie may help you get a first date quickly but once the lie is exposed, you are left with nothing. So, if you have flaws, don't lie. Improve yourself, or for the sake of writing a dating profile, describe your strengths, which leads to our next point…

·         Sell yourself, truthfully. This is probably the most important, but also the most ignored, point when it comes to online dating profiles. Talk about your forté, strong points, and great things you can do. For example, if you are funny, tell a joke. If you can cook, write about it. Or better yet, have a friend take a photo of you cooking a dish. Remember, you are completing with thousands of other people. If you don't stand out, how can Mr. or Ms. Right find you? A side note on the profile picture: Have a great headshot taken, either by a friend or a photographer. No heavy makeup or retouching. Just a great picture that shows your best features. Take a look at the pictures below. They were taken for the same person. The one on the left was with his own webcam and the one on the right was by a professional photographer. Which one do you think is more attractive?


Effective screening makes online dating safer and more time-efficient. Use profiles, IM, email, phone and other communication tools to screen those responded to your profile.

·         Always read profiles, especially “about me” and “about my match”, before you contact or respond to someone. You can learn many things from a profile. For example, if someone posts tons of party pictures, chances are this person parties a lot. If someone just writes that he's looking for a girl for fun, it's very likely that he's not looking for anything serious. This is not saying that you should make judgments just based on some pictures and text.

·         The point is, you can read a lot from what they posted or didn't post. And that should become your first round of screening. Phone conversations are always necessary. If you don't feel connected to someone on the phone, chanced are you are not going to find him or her attractive when you two meet. Email and IM can be a bit harder to use as a screening tool, but you can still use them to weed out some players who beat around the bush and never get to the point.

·         Consider how much benefit of the doubt you want to give other people. When you just start dating online, you might be eager to scrutinize each profile and find everybody who seems possible. It's purely natural. But from the perspective of time management, this may not be the best approach. There are too many people out there for you to wonder if someone is on the edge of your match, so you might want to save those corner cases for the people you meet first in real life, not online.

First date

One of the potential pitfalls of online dating is that people sometimes get lulled into a passive email exchange that lasts for months rather than pursuing an in-person encounter. The danger is that you run the risk of becoming emotionally invested in a potential match, only to discover that when you meet face-to-face, things fizzle. Don't let that happen to you. Once a comfortable rapport has been established, it's time to take your online courtship into reality.

·         The first date is supposed to be a journey of discovery. So keep it fun. Change the meeting spots so it's not another cup of coffee or lunch. There's no reason you can't meet for a walk in a public park, or a stroll through the Farmer's Market. Sometimes having a gentle and fun activity takes some of the pressure off and makes it easier to talk.

·         People you meet through online dating sites are mostly strangers. So, don't expect perfect behavior. Unlike social networks, where you and other strangers are connected through friends, online dating trades that off for privacy. It's great that the guy you're chatting with doesn't really know who you are and where you live. But the flip side would be you don't share the network of friends and family that compels him to treat you well. So, don't be surprised if someone disappears or stops talking to you after one, two, or even three dates. The fact that you two have no shared context means that if they want to disengage, they have no inherent incentives to treat you well.

·         However, if you happen to meet someone who is connected to you in real life, give them extra points. A shared context is an excellent factor in predicting compatibility.

·         Must-do: Always check on your date's background before the first date (or after, if a second date is expected). Google or use some background checking websites, such as Intelius. Most of time, Google gives you plenty of information. We are not suggesting you to spy on anybody. Bottom line: be safe. Protect yourself.

One Last Tip

Dating takes effort, be it online or offline. Plan well and form a good routine from writing the profile to screening. Keep at it and your hard work will pay off!

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