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How to Use Online Dating Services

Updated on May 24, 2007

How to Use Online Dating Sites

After my divorce I decided to start dating again. However, I was in my early 40's and was not interested in surfing local bars for my dates. After looking at several online dating sites, I decided to give it a whirl.

Now, for the most part my experiences with online dating were positive ones. There was the occasional guy who was just plain clueless on how to treat a woman. All they got was one date with me I have to report!

There were the ones who were not quite totally up front with their situations and I learned during the first phone call or date that they were not quite ‘single' but separated. But they were getting divorced. Umm, buh bye!

And of course the ever popular "Oh the only picture I had was 10 years old, I hate having my picture taken, you understand." Ummm...nope. If you are internet savvy enough to get your profile on a site then I feel you are savvy enough to find someone with a digital camera to help you take a current picture!

You read about how thousands of people meet online through a dating service, built a friendship, and then get married. I think that is awesome. I did date a few that I had hoped would develop into a long term relationship if not marriage some day, but alas, the person that was out there for me to marry was not on a dating service. But I did have a lot of fun meeting new people, having some fun dates and learning that there were some really great guys out there waiting for the right woman.

So if you are thinking of joining an online dating site, I highly recommend it and do expect it to be fun and interesting. I do however have some tips to help make it a rewarding and safe journey.

Your Profile

  • Never put your real last name on your public profile - this is for obvious safety reasons, especially for women. If you are uncomfortable with your first name, come up with a nice but not too cutsie ID.
  • If you decide to put a picture, (which the sites do recommend because profiles with pictures do get looked at more than those without) please put one that is current. No older than say 1 year, especially if you have dramatically changed such as your weight has gone either up or down, you've changed your hairstyle dramatically, etc. There is nothing more disheartening to have an image in your mind and then go meet someone that looks nothing like their picture!
  • Be honest about your height, weight, hair color, etc. Again, these descriptions put a mental picture in the minds of those interested in you and you are really not being honest when you don't share the facts!
  • Be honest about your occupation. Hey if you are a waitress, garbage hauler or a brain surgeon, say so! Don't be ashamed or overtly a braggart of how you make a living. If the other person cannot accept it then maybe they are not the right person for you in the first place.
  • If you have children, then be upfront about them. Again, honesty is so important. If they cannot accept that you have children, then move on to someone who will.

Initial Contact

  • When sending that first contact, make sure you are being genuine and yourself. And before you make that contact; be sure to read the other person's profile completely. It will tell you a lot about them and what they are looking for in a potential mate.
  • Do not be too wordy in your email, telling your life story or whatever, and do not say too little. Some examples of saying too little would be: "Nice profile let's talk." "You look sexy lets go out Friday", etc. Anyone can get that in a bar from a drunk! Good ways to make that first email impressive would be to state your name, mention something from their profile that caught your eye and why it made you want to write to them. Compliment them on their picture and profile. Ask them questions to hopefully provoke a reply. Ask things about the area they live such as what is their favorite restaurant and why or a general question about their occupation.
  • Never be rude if they do not answer your email or if they reply with a "No Thank You." If they do not feel you are someone they want to meet, then move on.
  • Talking on the phone is a good next step after a couple of emails. Never pressure the other person to give out their number. Most phone companies have a feature where you can block the person you are calling from seeing your number on their caller ID.
  • When the time is right to meet in person, always meet in a very public place and drive yourself. Ladies, never have a stranger, no matter how long you have talked online or the phone, come to your home and pick you up. It is just common sense these days. Meet in a busy public restaurant, café, bar or wherever, but make sure its public. Not in the parking lot either.

Online dating sites are great because you can meet people from all over and from a wide variety of backgrounds, ethnicity, interests, etc. Being online helps you to ‘weed' out those that perhaps just do not interest you. But do not narrow your searches or criteria too much or you may just lose out on that right person! Be open to new interests and types of people. Remember, everyone has had failed relationships in their past, and in order to not repeat past mistakes you need to be willing to change some things about how you approach your search.

Using the internet to get to know someone has its good and bad. Too often people do not portray their true personalities, so be wary of this. But on the other hand, many people feel that they can be more of themselves, more relaxed when chatting via emails or instant messenger.

So all in all, online dating can and should be fun, just be sure you are keeping an element of safety while you surf for that perfect mate!


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