Technology was supposed to make our lives easier and give us more leisure time. Instead, it increasingly feels like we’re squeezed from all sides. And in our busyness, it’s gotten harder to connect romantically. But what if you turned technology to your advantage instead of relying on blind luck to find dates? I can hear you now: “What? Me? I could never!” Trust me, you could. Online dating has gotten more sophisticated and doesn’t need to be intimidating or embarrassing. Let’s explore how to get started.
Choosing an online dating site can feel like a game of Russian roulette because there are hundreds of options. Before you begin, you need to narrow your focus.
A good way to start is to set a budget. There are free sites like Plenty of Fish and sites like Elite Singles that set higher fees. If you aren’t sure about online dating, a free site might be a good place to start. There are two things to keep in mind, however, when choosing a free service. First, people who sign up on these sites may be more interested in conversation or casual meetings than in a long-term relationship. Second, search algorithms are not as sophisticated on free sites, so you may have to spend extra time going through results. However, if you’re on a budget, free sites are a great option.
A second way to narrow your choices is to decide which type of site to use. Dating services are either general or niche. General sites, including match.com and eHarmony, have a range of participants. However, they work differently from each other. Match.com allows you to look at every profile on the site, while eHarmony selects profiles for you.
Niche websites are for people who want to connect with someone who has specific common interests. Some sites you might come across are Trek Passions (Star Trek fans), Geek 2 Geek, VeggieDate (vegetarians) and BabyBoomerDates.
If you’ve never filled out an online profile, you’re likely wondering what to include. Should you tell potential connections that your hobby is covering everything in your house in knitted doilies? Or that you’ve turned your living room into a garage where you work on your vintage motorcycle most weekends?
When you write your profile, be honest. It’s normal to feel self-conscious, but don’t let that stop you from putting your best self forward. A great way to write an online profile is with a group of friends—they will be candid with you and help you write an engaging profile.
Be truthful about your expectations. Are you looking for a casual relationship or a long-term one? If your goal is to meet someone you can enjoy the occasional dinner with, say so. But if you prefer a long-term relationship, put that in your profile. The last thing you want is to go on a series of dates with someone who has different relationship expectations.
Finally, use recent pictures, but don’t worry about getting model shots. Casual images of you doing what you love are a great way to show your personality. But do make sure to take off your sunglasses—and try to smile. Most importantly, be as sincere in your photos as in your written profile—people can spot a phony.
Online dating can be as safe as offline dating if you take the usual digital precautions and protect your identity from the very beginning.
Before you even create your profile, investigate the online dating site you’ve chosen. Find out whether they’ve had data breaches, and determine whether or not they share your personal information. If a site gives out your email address, skip it and find a service that uses an internal system that allows members to communicate without sharing personal information.
Before you make your profile public, review it to make sure you don’t include too much personal information. It’s a tricky balance between being honest and being careless. Remove anything that can make it easier for someone to find you, such as your telephone number or place of work.
If the person you are interested in shares his or her full name, try Googling them. You may not be able to do this until you’ve had enough online interactions to feel safe exchanging some personal information. Don’t expect to find anybody’s life story. The goal is to find enough to confirm some of the elements of the other person’s profile. You may even get a better sense of their personality.
Are you worried about your teenager signing up for online dating sites? It’s a valid concern because many young people are not as worried about online safety as adults. Always monitor their Internet use, and have honest conversations with them about their personal safety. And, as with adults using online services, never allow your teenager to meet a potential date in a private setting.
Online dating is a great option in today’s busy world. And the ability to interact with people online before meeting them takes a lot of pressure off users and gives you a better understanding of who they are and whether you might have something in common. Still intimidated? That’s okay. The world of dating is a little nerve-racking no matter where it happens. So, take a deep breath, and wade in online. Who knows, you just may find someone who thinks knitted doilies are cozy or that motorcycle grease adds ambience.
Bonne chance! t8n
By the Numbers
In 2014, 14.2 million Canadians were single.
In 2011, 36% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 used online dating services.
In 2016, the Canadian dating industry earned $164 million.
There are over 250 Canadian dating businesses.
Between 2011 and 2016, the Canadian dating business grew by 7.1%.
Testing the Waters
If you aren’t sure if online dating will work for you, and you don’t want to use a free site, check out one of the paid sites that offers a free trial. EHarmony, for example, has several free trials a year, and Match.com and MingleMatch offer free trials as part of your enrolment.