Well, before you decide to embark on this journey, I have some tips that will make this journey somewhat easier, as well as a little less stressful. But first, here's some data.
In 2012, it was estimated that 40 million people in the US have tried online dating (China has 140 million; WOW!). So you are definitely not alone. The amount of users is above even; 52% of males use it, while 47% of females use it. I guess that makes it a little easier for us girls; there are more to go around! Also, it is a BILLION dollar industry. Thanks to the services that charge a subscription fee; it has surpassed the porn industry. Anonymity pays, doesn't it?
There are plenty of sites, like the popular ones; match.com, eharmony.com, chemistry.com, etc. that will require a questionnaire. eharmony.com especially has the questionnaire that has a total of 400 questions. Obviously, it's sole purpose is to find that person that you will complement the best. Now, if you're looking for the person for right now and not someone you want to move in with right away, save that for when you are ready. It's a very tedious process that yes, they will do the work for you based on their algorithms and their compatibility scales. But it has to be done on your terms and if you're ready to settle down.
Now, there are THOUSANDS of free sites, for gay and straight. Okcupid.com has their own measure of compatibility, and it's free! It's not as tedious, but they do ask some questions that measure the same things as eharmony, but not as in depth. It's a great way to meet people in your area, and with social networking, you can look them up.
Okay, I know. Linsay, there's that Catfish show on MTV. What if that happens to me? I went to their Facebook, and everything seemed to make sense, blah blah blah. Yes, I've seen the show. It's entertaining nonetheless, but the "victims" did it to themselves. The problem that lies therein is their inability to question who the person on the other side is. Anyone can make a fake profile on Facebook. It's all about the signs. One way that I make sure to check out is to see if they have any mutual friends. That is also helpful if this is a situation when a friend of a friend knows someone who is single and they heard you are too. If they know someone that you know, then it gives you a chance to contact that friend and see what they say. It maybe a little stalkerish, but it's important to know who you're talking to. That way your heart isn't crushed when Nev and Max get ahold of your story, drive across country to find out that person who you were in love with for the last year weren't who they said they were. It's embarrassing.
Do the homework yourself. Don't depend on a TV show from MTV of all places to do the work you should've been doing in the first place. People LIE. All the time. If it looks and smell fishy, then it probably is. Trust those red flags and do your research. It's about your safety, and sparing you a broken heart.
I'm not saying that you should stalk the hell out of the person and not trust any word they say. What I am saying is keep your eye out for those red flags. Those red flags happen moreso in long distance relationships than those that occur in the same city. If those red flags are showing up when you guys have every opportunity to meet, then trust your gut and get out. It's not worth it.
10% of online daters are scammers. I know that's a small number, but they are out there. This occurs, I would guess, on craigslist more than anywhere else. Now, craigslist is extremely tricky. Scammers LOVE craigslist because of its anonymity, and inability to be traced. The website has a warning itself about the signs of a scammer so I won't go into detail too much, but they run rampant. It's disgusting that they'll even trick people looking for jobs by asking for credit information, address, and all sorts of information that other employers NEVER EVER ASK. If you're looking for casual encounters, or even platonic situations, they have a place for it. Scammers are hidden in there too, so just be smart about it. There have been movies about people luring others on craigslist and they end up murdered. So yeah, if that scares you, then I would look elsewhere. Be careful, cautious, and aware.
Have a complete profile. People have a tendency to avoid vagueness, so they will pass your profile right up if they don't take something from your profile. So try to fill out everything you can. Don't write novels about yourself. Keep it concise. It's a dating resume'; people don't want to have to read pages and pages if it can be summed up with one sentence.
Upload nice pictures of yourself. Do not upload pictures of your cars, trucks, or anything that involves an inanimate object unless you are in the picture with it. First impressions are A HUGE DEAL in online dating. AND GIRLS; class it up, please. The kind of pictures you upload are going to be relative to the kinds of people who want to get in touch with you. If you have gorgeous abs and you want to show them off, that's fine. I'm all about flaunting what you have. There is a way to do that without looking skanky. Fit girls are a huge hit right now, and you're almost guaranteed a response. Show that off with some dignity.
Honesty. I'm sure I preached this one already. Just be honest. The kind of people you want in your life if you are looking to settle down are the ones that stick around when you reveal those dark parts about you; which that openness should develop later in the relationship. Don't dump all that onto the person the first time you engage in conversation. White lies can snowball out of control. Clearly, as I thoroughly explained in the Catfish rant.
Politics, religion, and finances. Do not even mention anything about these. Conversation ruiner. Unless you know for a fact that you are both Christians (ChristianMingle.com anyone?), leave everything else out until a later time. This is a huge no-no for getting to know someone in the initial stage.
If things work out and you two decide to meet for the first time, meet in a public place. Or bring a friend for moral support. Do not meet them at their apartment alone. Or anywhere sketchy. Being comfortable and safe is always number one, so take appropriate steps to meeting a stranger. If they like you, they will understand. Friends make it easier as well since they can get a glimpse at who you've been talking to, and they can take part in the process. If they are coming from across the country, make travel arrangements. Only do this if everything and I mean EVERYTHING checks out. If you're one that's traveling, try to make it a friends' vacation or a road trip.
SO! I definitely went crazy on this topic. Just like anything else in this world, it can be fun as long as it's used right. To sum up my tips:
- Be aware of the red flags. Do not ignore them. If you think someone isn't right, do your research.
- Be succinct with your profile. It's a resume', not an autobiography.
- Upload pictures of yourself, and make sure they're all different in some way. Flaunt what you have, but keep the rest as a mystery.
- Be honest. Choose topics carefully, and don't unload everything you've done wrong to the person you're talking to. They are not your therapist.
- Do not bring up politics, religion, or how much money you make until you've developed a solid foundation. Those are things that can be talked about once you get to know each other.
- When meeting in person, it's all about safety. Meet in a public place like a mall, and being some friends for moral support along.