Online Dating For Beginners


What started as a fairly marginalized and private concept for the advanced cyber few of the early 90’s has mainstreamed itself now as one of the primary ways to meet your next significant other. The sheer number of books about online dating shows that online dating may not be as simple as it seems at first blush. Or at least, enough people seem to think they have discovered the secret trick to finding the perfect person online and want to make lots of money writing a book to lead others in search of the Holy Grail.

After all these years, I’m not sure there is a secret trick or a Holy Grail. Relationships are relationships no matter where you go, and let’s face it: dating is kind of silly, anyway. I’ve always felt that the key to successful dating is to keep your sense of humor and not take it or yourself too seriously.

A quick re-cap of the premise of online dating:

• The profile writer says a little bit about themselves and other people take on the role of “code cracker.” Does “quirky” mean “unbearably weird”? Does “I like independent women” mean “I don’t have time for a girlfriend”? Does “Money not important” mean “need sugar mama”? Does “spiritual but not religious” mean “I don’t know what I believe so don’t ask,” or “I am a spiritual guru who has found the new path to enlightenment?”

The profile reader scans for red flags and deal breakers, weighs them against how hot the picture is and depending on their nature uses that information or not in determining to contact the other person.

•The profile writer gets a delightful number of emails in their inbox letting them know that they have discovered a way to online Mecca. If the inbox comes up dry…the writer either re-vamps and tries to determine the offending lines, delights in their individuality or hits Amazon to buy the aforementioned online dating advice books.

• A date ensues or at least some hot and heavy cyber communication.

• Enter the old fashioned formulas for regular dating as you have taken it from online to flesh and blood.

I don’t think we can apply one set of rules against all personal ads. But these tips can help you figure out if you want to make contact.

1. Look for stock phrases. If an ad contains too many “likes children and puppies, long walks at sunset, etc” watch for possible faker or just extremely boring person whose mom wrote their ad.

2. Watch for language aimed specifically for or against one segment of the population and make sure you are ok with their criteria. Ie. “I like skinny, actress types who want to be stay at home moms and serve as arm candy at my next black tie function. If people tell you that you weigh more wet…you are the girl for me!” Just a guess, but this writer has a thing for unreality and really will want to see if you weigh more wet before asking for another date.

3. Look at the complete picture the person presents. If they list a job and hobbies that effectively tie them up every work day and all day Sat and Sunday on the golf course…know that unless you work where they work or play how they play, you are likely to have conflicting schedules at least until that mad love hits and then all bets are off.

4. Ask for clarification on things that may seem obvious if you are uncertain about their word usage. Ie. “I must have someone with conservative sexual needs.” This can be taken to mean anything from “I don’t want it very often and when I do, it needs to be of the vanilla variety,” to “I am willing to do anything between two consenting adults but don’t want to share you with anyone else.” Either, both or neither may be acceptable to you but what a bummer if you took it to mean to first when it was really the latter!

5. If the pictures look old (dated styles, baby face look, grainy, scanned picture instead of digital) they probably are old. Buyer beware.

6. Another on pictures…if it looks slightly familiar in that “He’s gorgeous but looks familiar” kind of way…you may be well served to peruse the latest Abercrombie catalogue. If the picture looks professional, you may have a scammer on your hands — so check and double check his story.