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Does Online Dating Work?

Updated on August 19, 2009

Being a single dating columnist, I have had my fair share of dating experiences with the online matchmaking scene, as well as traditional dating methods. I first dabbled in online dating about six years ago when niche dating was still pretty much unheard of, and I've dated a good number of men since that time. Knowing this, a lot of men and women ask me if online dating really works and I've decided to create this article in an attempt to help people see the positives and negatives about online dating. Does it work? It certainly can do, and I've listed some tips for increasing your odds of finding someone it will work with -- as well as things that should be avoided if at all possible.

Less Chance of Success

1. Choosing someone in a foreign country.

Oh, you'll get lots of emails and winks from these people, but they are typically the sort of people who cannot commit and have sought you out because you're "safe". And you are; you can't really commit to someone you've never met in person!

2. Choosing someone who is married or separated

In some countries, couples have to go through an obligatory separation period of as long as two years before they can be legally divorced. Whilst I feel bad for these people, I highly, highly recommend avoiding them as they don't have their own personal life in order yet and may end up really complicating yours. That, and obviously choosing a married person is not in your best interest if you want a real relationship. Best to seek only singles.

3. Bad communicators

If you've starting chatting up someone who emails Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but then goes quiet over the weekend, you're probably chatting with a player. They may be married and therefore only able to email safely from work, or they could be testing you to see how you react to it. These are not people who deserve your time and how they communicate by email is reflective of how they will communicate once you meet them.

4. No photo

There was a time when people were too embarrassed to include a real photo of themselves in their profile, in case anyone they knew recognized them. That's not the case today; online dating is no longer a societal taboo. If someone is chatting you up but hasn't got a photo, they are probably hiding something (perhaps a spouse or significant other!)

Best Chance of Success

1. Date locally

If you are seeking men or women who live in your neighborhood, you've got a pretty good chance of meeting someone you'd like to date. That's not to say long distance doesn't work, but it's far, far less successful. Search for people in your own area or in a nearby town to give yourself the best odds. On the other hand, if you're about to move across the country, finding people in your new location before you arrive is a common way of making new acquaintances in advance.

2. Action speaks louder than words

There are a number of people online dating sites who cling to the diving board with little intention of diving in. You want to chat up people who are willing to meet you within a week or two of making your initial email contact. Sure, you want to know something about them before you jump in the pool, but there are people who will drag their feet forever and you don't want to waste time on them.

3. Look at newish profiles

If possible, seek out people who are newish members, as they are going to be the most hopeful and less jaded. That said, sometimes people will create a profile and then not use it for a year -- those people are newish in their own way, and it never hurts to ask them how often they use the site, as people can still be players online.

4. Choose people who have a real profile.

If someone is using a dating site, they *want* to attract someone. People who want to attract someone will advertise themselves in the hope of being noticed. Therefore, those people who have limited profiles with little text are probably holding back and will not be the easiest to engage.

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