The dos and don’ts of online dating

Online dating has taken the world by storm, replacing (for the most part) those secretive small ads which used to be so sneered at.

Man giving a woman a bunch of red roses through a computer screen Thankfully, our attitudes to dating have changed massively in recent years, and those who use the internet in their search for a soulmate are in good company.

Women and men of all ages can now access pretty much anything they want – so whether you’re looking for a few fun dates or the love of your life, it is a great way of meeting people.

Having made several forays into the world of internet dating, I’d like to share my tips to help you play the online dating game… and win.

Don’t assume. Be bold and ask direct questions. Now, by this, I don’t mean ‘what colour are your pants?’ (although plenty of men out there are willing to discuss this with you).

I mean, if in doubt, clarify. For example, initially I ruled out anyone who had a status of ‘separated’ as my head said ‘his wife was warming his bed last Tuesday and now he’s out on the prowl’. This might be the case. Equally, ‘separated’ may also mean ‘been apart for three years, amicably split up and haven’t got around to the paperwork’.

If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Plus, if you don’t like the answer you can move on.

Montage of online dating home pagesGo with your gut. This is a tricky one. In some respects I would advise giving a second chance to a man who scores highly on most of your criteria – being too narrow could be your downfall. This is why I advise you to ask questions.

However, if there’s no chemistry then it isn’t right (and you deserve the best).

A couple of years ago, I had three dates with the nicest man in the world: spurred on by ‘you can’t decide after one date’ encouragement from friends. This man could have been trusted with your entire financial worth in used notes (plus be placed in charge of your newborn child). But on the second date, I only laughed once (at my own joke). The third meeting should never have happened – we both wanted something that wasn’t there.

One drink rule. On your first date, I strongly suggest a one drink rule (preferably a coffee). This gives you both a get-out card and won’t take a whole evening or afternoon.

The worst that can happen is that you get some points on your coffee loyalty card and a decent Americano while listening intently to tales of the Camping and Caravan show. The best that can happen is that Costa will sponsor your celebrity wedding: who knew that Brad Pitt’s cousin was a plumber, living just outside Wolverhampton?

Know what you want. Again, don’t blinker yourself to opportunities but be clear about what you want from this experience.

Are you looking for a life partner, some fun, a short-term relationship? What are your definite no-go areas and where might you compromise (be open!). For example, there are clearly men (and women) who are looking for sex without strings.

Personally I don’t court this situation, although was flattered by the potential toyboy who approached me with: ‘Do you drive? Here’s my postcode, why don’t you come over for coffee’. Young man, your assumption that I can use a SatNav is unfounded. I will come over if your dad, or uncle, are single and a picture is available.

Sell yourself. Ladies, give yourself the best chance that you can. Put up several photos – make sure they’re up to date. Pictures are important.

Based on what I’ve seen (of men out there) big mistakes include photos where a woman has clearly been cut out of the picture, pictures of men in cars and on motorbikes (I believe for women, a parallel is women in bikinis) and selfies.

Nobody looks their best in an arm’s length shot – ask a friend or family member to take a photo of you. Don’t be afraid to ask – they will want to help you find happiness.

mothBe honest. If you’ve put on weight, or aged (we all do) and think that a less recent picture is a better selling tool, it isn’t.

You need to be honest, and proud, of who you are and what you have to offer. Men have told me that they have been on dates and stayed to be polite (or that they subsequently only date women with a full-length photo) as they have met women who were much bigger, or older, than they claimed.

You are beautiful – choose to know it and the right man will come to you.

Perfect your profile. Be upfront and project what you want to receive. Write a detailed profile describing all the good and interesting things about yourself. You have a lot to offer a lovely man – so describe yourself as that woman.

I do know that online dating can be difficult as well as fun. Remember, you only need to carry on talking to men that you find interesting and meet people who look like they could meet your needs.

Online dating could be the key to a very happy future and you have everything to gain.

Good luck and enjoy.

Jo Fuller

About Jo Fuller

Having been single for the majority of my life, I feel well placed to provide some advice on dating (although not on how to plan your wedding!). I work in the heating and hot water industry: in my spare time I enjoy walking, the gym, baking, reading, writing and playing with my gorgeous six year old niece.