online dating

In today’s increasingly digital era, the act of online dating has become a familiar process for many. Of the 54 million single people in the United States, 40 million of them have tried online dating. These users have subscribed to at least one, if not several, of the countless dating services offered online. Some of these services are graciously free, while others charge a hodgepodge of rates in exchange for their matchmaking skills.

This notion of cyber-dating is a method of matchmaking that intrigues those struggling to find love. Given the amount of singles turning to the Internet, cyber love poses a variety of questions, all of which depend on who you are and what you’re looking for

Trying cyber dating on for size

Online dating services are ideal if you’re actively seeking companionship. These websites provide a platform for people just like you — most turn to online dating because they too are looking for love.

Don’t allow yourself to feel desperate or ashamed for trying online dating. Opting to cyber date is not an embarrassment! Virtual dating allows you to meet people that you wouldn’t normally interact with in your standard day-to-day routine.

You’ll know online dating is for you when you set your qualms free and gain confidence in your bearings as a marketable, attractive prospect.

Melanie, a 26-year-old assistant clinic administrator had an unsuccessful bout with online dating, but still recommends the option to others. “Everyone is different so maybe people who are more shy or reserved may find success in online dating because face-to-face can be intimidating.” She continues, “my friend was actually in a relationship for five years with someone she met online, so it does work for some people. When you’re looking for love you can’t rule out any option, because you never know where Mr. Right is going to be.”

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Deciding to try online dating is a personal choice that may or may not be for you. Luckily, there are many types of services to choose from!

The art of choice

One of the most notable perks of online dating is the wide array of services you can explore. Online dating is a billion-dollar industry with a seemingly endless supply of options. Are you a twenty-something college student seeking a fellow scholar? Try to find your academic love connection. Are you a hopeless romantic seeking a mate who desires marriage? Consider subscribing to eHarmony or for a monthly fee, which will grant you access to 20 million and 15 million members, respectively.

For Melanie, a subscriber to OkCupid, a free service was tempting to test the waters. She explains, “I liked the site because it allowed you to answer survey questions—more than just your profile—to help enhance the potential of opening up to more people. The questions were helpful because you would see what percentage of a friend, enemy, and romantic you were compared to your matches. So the questionnaires would tell me if I was a good match for someone versus a good friend.”

The benefit of having many sites to explore is that you can cast your net wider by subscribing to a handful of domains. Selecting several sites will allow you to meet more users and aid you in finding your perfect match.

Profiling yourself in cyber space

Generating the ideal profile is one of the more challenging aspects of online dating. You want to market yourself as honestly as possible, while still maintaining that balance of sexy and sweet. If you’re uncertain as to how to go about creating your profile, don’t fret. Luckily for you, there’s a simple formula to follow.

Every successful profile can be broken down into four parts:

  1. The picture

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Your profile picture is key. Most online users undergo a process known as relationshopping, which refers to how people shop for a love connection based on comparative attributes and overall attractive physical qualities. Alas, many online users make snap judgments when it comes to matches. Some quick tips for having an ideal profile picture include:

  • Be sure your picture clearly shows your face and body.

  • Avoid posting pictures with other people.

  • Use your photo as a way to illustrate your hobby.

  1. The headline

Some services leave room for users to post a headline. This caption should be intriguing, while answering the main question: What am I looking for?

  1. The username

Your username should be quirky yet classy. Steer clear of provocative usernames that might give others the wrong idea. Your username is your identifier online, so choose an ID wisely.

  1. The paragraph

The paragraph of your profile is your chance to showcase your interests, talents and accomplishments. In a clear and concise manner you should highlight who you are, what you’re looking for, what you have to offer, and how you’re unique. Take the time to express yourself, but remember to be brief!

Red flags of online dating

There are some risks to online dating. Cyber dating can pose dangerous situations if you’re blind to the signs flagging your attention. Thus, it’s critical to be aware, trust your instincts and tread carefully.

Most recently there has been an increase in catfishing. Much like the popular MTV show Catfish, “catfishing” refers to a person who creates a false cyber identity to engage in deceptive online romances. Not every match you encounter is going to be deceptive, but it’s crucial to be on the lookout for profiles that appear falsified.

Another potential danger lies in meeting an online match in-person. There will come a day, after abundant emails, long phone calls and smitten hearts, when you and your cyber boyfriend will want to meet face-to-face. When this day comes, you need to be certain that you aren’t entering a dangerous situation.

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There are some safety precautions you can take to avoid a risky date. For instance, always meet your date in a public venue. Whether it be a restaurant or shopping mall, meet in a high-traffic area, so that in case things go south, you have an easy exit with plenty of people around. Also, be sure to let someone know where you are going and who you will be with. If for some reason, your safety is threatened, someone will know where to find you.

Online dating: Success or failure?

When it comes to analyzing the successes versus failures of online relationships, it’s imperative to recognize that not everyone has a fairytale ending. Perhaps the chemistry offline wasn’t as promising as the emails led you to believe. Nonetheless, it’s key to remember that all relationships succeed or fail for a multitude of reasons. Beginning online may or may not be one of them.

Research from June 2013 demonstrates that 17% of marriages within the last year were between couples who met online. Furthermore, 20% of current committed relationships are those that began online. Though the numbers aren’t astoundingly high, it does appear that successful relationships can start and continue from online origins.

All in all, when it comes to love, you cannot rule out any option. There are moments in life when you have to take a leap of faith and see where it lands you. For some, online dating is one of those chances you just have to take.

Photo credit: Rachael Tulipano