(The Root) —
“I’m in my 30s and haven’t had much luck dating. Where I live, there aren’t very many options to meet the type of guy I like. I’m a little embarrassed that it’s come to this and nervous about who I’ll meet, but I am finally ready to try online dating. Any thoughts or anything I should be wary of?” –A.E.
Good for you! I encourage online dating, although I’ve always thought of the term as a bit of a misnomer. Online is a great place to meet people, but you shouldn’t “date” them there. “Dating” should be reserved for the real world (more on that in a moment).
A single woman who doesn’t wish to be single, or is just looking for some dating fun, should be exploring all of her options. There’s no reason to be “embarrassed.” Online is the third-most-popular way for singles to meet, according to a 2010 Match.com study (pdf). (Work or school is the most popular, followed closely by a hookup from a friend or family member.) The same study claimed that one out of every five singles in the U.S. have dated someone they met online.
I suggest taking a similar approach to meeting guys that I would takein the real world. Since you have a “type” that you like, then sign up for a site where you will be most likely to find him. If your “type” is largely based on personality, aim for sites with the most people so you have the most options. But if your “type” is more specific, like “Christian,” “single parent” or even “wealthy,” head to a niche site where you’ll find folk who at the very least identify heavily with whatever it is you’re looking for.
Just like showing up to an event hoping to meet new people, you’ll need to put in some effort to meet who you like online. Signing up isn’t enough to get results. That means you will need to think carefully about your presentation, i.e., what picture you select for your profile and how you describe yourself there.
You’ll also have to put in some work to seem friendly and approachable, and with more than just a flattering picture with an engaging smile, though that helps tremendously. Scroll through the profiles and contact people in whom you’re interested. A compliment on a photo or something mentioned in a profile and a question to get him talking will have a similar effect online as they do in the real world — if the guy is interested. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes people less likely to use their social etiquette. It’s just the nature of the Internet.