Dating

By Samantha Eichenberg

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WELCOME TO POINT, CLICK AND DATE

For the gal on the go, after-work socializing can be difficult. It doesn’t matter if you work 40+ hours a week or are a single mother of two; the truth is that it’s not always easy to find the time or the opportunity to meet that special someone.

Internet dating offers this possibility. With one click you can be on your way to meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right. Allow me to share an experience…

One night while out at dinner the question going around the table was, “Why did I decide to join the world of online dating?” I explained to the group that I wrote a relationship column for Beauty News and after receiving questions in my inbox about the topic. I decided I should find out for myself exactly how it all worked. After all, that’s my job. They laughed and of course gave Scott (my date) a hard time, calling him, “my little experiment.”

Did I mention I met Scott online while doing research for this very article?

After gaining some ‘online, hands on’ experience, I learned that you can find a new world filled with men and women of all ages, shapes and colors online; anything you could possibly want in a significant other is there. It’s like shopping for the perfect mate without the hassle of crowds. You are offered complete descriptions of exactly who you are looking at as well as detailed “matches” made specifically for you depending on what you specified you wanted. It’s like wandering through a shoe department knowing each pair is there in your size and all you have to do is choose the one you think would be the best fit.

I’ve rounded up some of the more popular sites and below, I give you some tips on how they could work for you and how they worked for me.

Eharmony, Match, Jdate, and OkCupid are some of the better-known sites that definitely understand the logistics and are great at marketing their respective dating sites. We hear about them constantly through television and radio and they are even showing up in our favorite magazines. These sites want prospective clients to know that, “it’s ok to look,” (Match.com tells us), encouraging us to see who is waiting JUST FOR US in dating cyber space.

Most of these sites have standard steps that get you one step closer to finding a perfect match. First you fill out a profile. This can take some time, so be prepared to spend more than five minutes on it. The first part of the profile is all about you followed by a section asking what you’re looking for in a significant other. Finally, the part comes when you must upload photos of yourself, a portion of the process I’d like to express a strong opinion on: Men and women – when you are deciding what pictures to post on your profile think about how you want to portray yourself to others. If you are not a model, please, don’t put up pictures that make you look like one. People want to see you in your everyday lifestyle.

When it comes to finding your online match, location is one of the main components, followed by a match by common interests. If you are looking to meet people within your area who share your same interests this is definitely the way to go. However, there are other options if you are looking for something a little different.

If you’d like to get a little more specific with your dating credentials there are dating sites based on age, religion, ethnicity and location – just to name a few.

I also came upon a website that gives the 4-1-1 on all the dating websites in cyberspace. www.Datingsitereviews.com offers detailed reviews of the most popular dating websites out there. It will help you find out how each site works and how their matching processes are done.

Mind you, when I first visited the site, I was doing research; trying to pick the brains of the men who “winked” at me or sent me emails each day, trying to figure out their motives. Just when I seriously began to doubt the whole concept I received an email from Scott. I started looking at my scenario very differently. After receiving countless emails that only made me laugh and question men (some of these people on these sites are nuts), I finally had come across one that made me look twice. I realized; even though many of the e-mails and winks might make you second-guess online dating, for every 10 weird-o e-mails there will be one that makes your heart skip a beat.

And then there will be one that makes your heart stop.

I knew that if this could work for me, there was so much potential for it to work for others. There had to be some magic behind online dating methods, and I wanted to find out what it was.

One thing to remember is that online may not be for everyone. Some tend to find it a little impersonal and have trouble connecting, but you will never know unless you try.

Online dating is not a bad thing and it is not something that someone should be ashamed of doing. Dating is not easy, no matter if you are 20, 30 or 50. It takes time to meet people, learn their likes and dislikes and some people just don’t have that opportunity. Using the Internet provides a world of opportunities for everyone, everywhere. Match.com provides a few tips to get started with your online dating adventure and I think they’re important to share:

• DO guard your identity.
Don’t share your real name, personal phone numbers, or any other identifying information while im-ing or emailing until you are comfortable doing so.

• DO use a current picture and be truthful in your description of yourself in your profile.
Misleading descriptions or photos can result in angry feelings and can end a relationship before it begins. In the long run, honesty is your best relationship tool.

• DO listen to your gut.
If the other person can only meet or talk to you at odd hours, he or she may be keeping a secret. If this person cannot be honest with you from the start, you cannot count on him or her to be honest in the future.

More tips can be found at www.match.com/help/safetytips.aspx.

I learned a few tricks of my own that are important to be aware of, most importantly this:

Disclaimer: Not all dating sites are free, so be prepared to pay. Even though you may only pay for a one-month subscription, sites will automatically charge you for another month unless you cancel the account yourself. Bottom line: READ THE FINE PRINT.

One thing to remember is that dating online may not be for everyone. Some tend to find it a little impersonal and have trouble connecting, but you will never know unless you try. It’s a tough world out there and each of us deserves love, no matter how we find it. If it’s real then nothing else matters. If you are looking for love and haven’t found it, online dating offers the possibility of love, but can almost guarantee some memorable experiences. Though dating Scott has been compared many times to Mathew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in the memorable chick flick, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I laugh and hope that our ‘ending’ will be just as happy…

Originally published April 2008
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