Your Introduction Into the World of Online Dating
There are so many ways to meet people in today’s technology driven world. For some people meeting others online is a way of life. Others do it just to test the waters. Some people do it because their lives are so hectic that it is the only way to be able to form a bond outside of work or family life. Whatever your reason for looking to meet people online, know that you are not alone. Internet dating has been growing in popularity for years, and for many couples it has proved to be entirely successful.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of internet dating sites available. A simple internet search will yield dozens, maybe hundreds of pages of results. Some are free while others cost money either up front, after a free trial, or in order to use premium features or see your potential mate’s contact details. Some sites let you fill in your wishes and wants as well as your own attributes in your own words, while some sites go so far as to ask you a number of questions and match you based on how compatible you are with other people of the sex you are interested in.
If you elect to date through a dating website, whether it is a general one or a specialized one, you will be expected to sign up for an account. This entails giving the website certain identifying information, though you can choose how much of it is shared with other people. This is to help keep misrepresentation to a minimum as well as to let the site owners know what demographics are using the site so that they can better update it to meet the needs of those groups. Most sites ask at least a few questions about what you are looking for in a particular mate, and some even ask a large number of questions to give you as close to an exact match as they can.
You will be asked to set up a personal profile as well. In addition to providing the qualities you look for in a potential date, you will be asked to write a bit about yourself. This is your chance to stand apart from the crowd. Be honest in your profile. Don’t try to make yourself out to be more than you are. If you went to a campaign rally once in college, don’t list yourself as a political activist. If you expect honesty from your dates, you must provide it as well. This becomes especially helpful if the match is something with potential, as if you have presented yourself honestly, then you will have the benefit of knowing that the person likes you for who you are, rather than who you made yourself out to be. In addition, be careful how your word you description of an ideal mate. If you do not want to meet someone who plays head games, be honest, but say it in a positive way rather than a negative one. It sounds much nicer to hear someone say that they are looking for someone who is honest and can speak their mind than to hear them say that they are sick of people who do not treat them right, even though the meaning of both sentences is the same. In the same vein, if your exes come up, it is your job to stay neutral. If you point out all of their faults and shortcomings, your date will fear that you will start saying these sorts of things about them when they are not around. It can also make you seem like a negative person, which is something you generally want to avoid. In short, make this experience fun. State the things you desire, but in such a way that it leaves you approachable and friendly.
You can choose to upload a picture to your profile or not, though many people only browse profiles of users who have posted a picture. If you do post a picture, while you will of course want to post one that you think looks good and is flattering, avoid posting nude, topless, or bathing suit photos. This violates the terms of many sites and can certainly send potential dates the wrong idea. Try to post a picture of just yourself. People are often turned off by having to find you in a group picture, and pictures of you with past lovers is very rarely something that potential mates will enjoy seeing. If you don’t have a good picture, as a friend with a digital camera or even a camera phone to take one. Today’s cell phones have remarkably good picture quality. Remember that your picture makes a big statement about who you are and helps get you noticed. Don’t post something that will turn potential dates away, but do post something flattering. Smile in your pictures as well, this makes you look friendly and approachable and makes you seem easier to talk to.
Many people these days are meeting on Craigslist. On craigslist, you can choose from a number of personals boards in your hometown or region. There are boards for people looking for relationships, boards for people looking for sex, and boards for people who might have only briefly seen someone they liked, but missed the opportunity to get their name or number. All of these boards are divided into subcategories for straight, gay, and transgendered people, and are further divided by gender within those categories.
A fair number of people meet in chat rooms. There are chat rooms on a great many sites these days. Many email providers such as AOL and Yahoo offer a number of chat rooms. There are chat rooms specifically for meeting people for dating or sexual encounters, as well as rooms for chatting about anything from knitting to baseball. There are also rooms specifically for people from your state or city. By looking on other sites as well, there are extremely few topics for which you can not find a chat room. By conversing with people who share your goals or interests, you can increase your odds of making a successful connection.
Some people end up meeting their dates through “blogs. Sometimes when you do an internet search for something that intrigues you, blog entries come up in the results. This is a very interesting, though somewhat uncanny way of meeting people. By subscribing to someone’s blog and reading regularly, you might find that you have a lot of things in common. This can also happen if you have a blog of your own. There is really no shortage of places to meet people online.
Online dating sometimes happens even in places one would not expect. Massively Multiplayer Online games, or MMO’s, are a common place for people to meet these days. One couple recently made headlines when a man asked the love of his life to marry him in the exact spot where they met; online in one of the realms of World of Warcraft. Things like this sound uncommon, but they make perfect sense. When you meet someone during one of your favorite pastimes, you already know that you have something in common, so it is a great starting ground for meeting new people.
One of the biggest places that are becoming host to online dating and weddings is the growingly popular MMO Second Life. On Second Life, people create avatars and live out, as the name implies, a second life. In the game, you choose your profession, where you live, everything. You train to become someone new, and eventually you do. It has given many people a chance to see to some degree what life would be like had they made different choices. Second Life also gives people to live without limitations, as someone who is in a wheelchair or who is otherwise disabled in real life can walk around and do most anything within the confines of the game. Many people meet through Second Life and go on to have successful dates and relationships. Using the chat feature, they can get to know one another in the virtual world, which removes a lot of pressure that would be felt if they had met in person.
No matter where you meet online, there are some tips for helping to ensure a successful first date. The first tip is also the most important. Get to know the person before you go out. Exchange e-mails with them. Talk to them on the phone. You can talk about trivial things, such as the weather or the local baseball team, but make sure you spend some time talking about things that are important to you. Make sure that you get along reasonably well in conversation. Try to get to know them as much as you can before meeting. Finding out someone is not your type is much easier to deal with in e-mail than it is if you realize it in the middle of a date. It is much easier to stop e-mail communications than it is to run away from a restaurant or bowling alley without being noticed by your date. Not only can this let you know that someone is not your type, but it can certainly also let you know that they are. Getting to know someone and finding out that you are on the same wavelength about all of the issues important to you can be a wonderful experience and can make the first date much more special. The ability to assess a potential date at length before going out is one of the many wonderful things about dating online.
The downside to dating online, however, is that people are not always what they seem. While it isn’t common, some people have gone on dates with people they met online; only to discover that the person is not who their picture or profile made them out to be. In some cases, people have gone on dates with people from the internet only to find out that their prospective date is not even of the gender they claimed to be. There are few things more disappointing that thinking that you are going out with a 5’5″ woman with beautiful eyes and a gorgeous body only to find yourself meeting up with a 5’9″ man covered in body hair, wearing lipstick, and answering to the name “Candy”.
The scenario described above is the most popular argument for using pictures in your online profile. While people can still find ways to misrepresent themselves, such as posting pictures of other people, adding a picture gives the other person a mental picture of you when you are talking, and makes you seem more real than simple text and typing could ever do. When looking to meet people online, it is wise to look for profiles with pictures. If the person you met is online 18 hours a day and says they do not enjoy working out or sports, yet has a picture of a completely ripped bodybuilder, you can be reasonably sure that you are not dealing with someone who is completely honest. In the same vein, if you meet someone who happens to have a picture of Johnny Depp as their profile picture, while this would make many women very happy (think Pam Anderson for the men), the odds are good that you are not in fact chatting with Captain Jack Sparrow himself.
There are only a couple of other negative scenarios that happen commonly enough to warrant mentioning. For women and gay men, it is wise to be leery of men who are pretending to be looking for the one, but who are really looking for many. Some men on these sites are what you would consider to be players. They will say all right things, and even probably take you out for a very nice date, only to get what they are looking for and stop calling. This is somewhat common, but it is also very common in bars, singles groups, and anywhere else people commonly go to find dates. Try to look into a potential mate a bit. See how long he has had an active profile on the dating site, or if you use craigslist, see how many times he has posted the same message. If it seems he has been hitting on women for a long time and he is reasonably attractive and charming, then you might want to consider the possibility that he is playing games. This isn’t certain based on these criteria alone, but they should be enough to convince you to at least keep your guard up until you get to know and trust him.
All people, especially women, should be cautious about letting someone you met take provocative pictures or videos of you. Many people can attest to the fact that even though pictures were taken in a loving and trusting situation, once there was a breakup the pictures or videos starting popping up all over the internet. Some guys post conquests on facebook or myspace, some sell them to porn sites. Look at the recent onslaught of celebrity sex tapes being leaked to the press and you will see what I mean. Exercise caution when venturing into any venues involving recording yourself in vulnerable or sexual scenarios.
For the men there are also some negative categories of people to look out for. There are some women out there who are just looking to get money from a guy. If a woman you have recently met suddenly needs money to fly home to a sick mother or to help with bills or something else, be leery of the situation. There are a number of con artists on the internet who are looking to take unsuspecting people’s money. Some of these con artists are not even women at all, but professional scammers using fake photographs.
Speaking of photographs, men must be extremely cautious to ensure that the person they are meeting is of legal age. Underage girls post somewhat frequently on these sites and even with her consent or if she lied about her age, being with an underage girl is illegal. Take some extra precaution if a girl seems or looks young, even if you have to literally find a way to see her id card. Try asking her to buy cigarettes or a lighter or something requiring ID at the store. It may sound silly, but it could save you a lot of grief in the long run.
For all of the negative, it is important to remember that there is much more positive. Sometimes a picture can let you know that you are talking to someone with the most beautiful eyes you have ever seen, or that someone is exactly what you have always dreamed of. For every story gone wrong, there are dozens that have gone right. Every day there are tons of weddings and commitment ceremonies for couples who met through the internet. The internet closes the gaps between people. Behind the screen and across the web, we are free to be ourselves and can communicate with anyone no matter where or who they are. You can meet someone across the globe or right down the street and you can meet someone special whom you might not have even noticed in the outside world. The internet provides a sort of level playing field, and offers many opportunities not only for people who are busy, but for people who are afraid to go out there and risk rejection face to face. There are really very few limitations when you choose to take your dating life into cyberspace.
Another excellent benefit to dating online is that you can really get to know someone before sharing your contact information. You only exchange what you want someone to know, and you can find out to some degree if you are compatible before meeting in person. This can help avoid awkward first dates and even potential breakups. The downside is once again that in sharing only limited information, it is possible for one or both parties to misrepresent themselves. Once you get to know someone online, it is advisable to talk on the phone a few times (this will at least help ensure that your new friend is the same gender that he or she claimed to be), and meet somewhere in public when deciding to introduce yourselves in person. If you play your cards right, internet dating can actually be one of the safest and most fun ways to meet new people.
When meeting people online, it is important to remember that the first person you meet does not have to be who you choose or how you determine if online dating is right for you. Much like dating in the outside world, dating in the virtual world is a series of trials and errors. If you don’t connect with the first person you meet, simply try again. There are millions of people online, and a great portion of them are looking to meet new friends or that special someone. Most people choose to look within their hometown or surrounding areas, but it might even be nice not to limit yourself. There are wonderful people all over the country and the world, and you never know where Mr. or Ms. Right might be waiting.
Behind the computer screen, you are free to be yourself without any worries. This could be an excellent way to meet an old flame from high school or even a coworker that you have secretly been pining for. You can test the waters by chatting or exchanging emails before moving anything into the physical world. The internet is a great testing ground to see if you are compatible with a potential lover.
The internet is also an excellent testing ground for people who are curious about their sexuality. The internet offers anonymity and can really give you a safe and comfortable space to engage in conversation and chats with other people who are questioning or people you might be interested in that you are not comfortable talking to in the outside world. Meeting people shouldn’t be hard, and thanks to the internet and the world of online dating, it doesn’t have to be.
In summary, there are many ways to meet people online. From dating sites to online games, there are always people out there who are looking to find love. In many cases, people even find it by accident, when they are simply playing a game or writing a blog. The internet offers people the freedom to be adventurous and romantic. Where but in an online world can people not making six figure salaries stand atop the highest mountain on their own private island and ask the beautiful woman that they have fallen in love with to marry them? Like all dating, internet dating can be a process of trial and error, and there is always a chance that you aren’t meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right, but with so many successful bonds and marriages being formed every day that start within the confines of cyberspace, it is definitely a new wave and a new way to find true happiness.