Online Dating – Proceed with caution…

dating 2I’d love to say, yes, believe the hype and the pretty girl in the Match.com commercial but the truth is online dating is a minefield. The sites struggle to get women to sign up and actually stay (thus the ads aimed at women) and many women quickly clock that the sites are full of the same familiar faces and a lot of time-wasting goes on. For some though, online is possibly the only way they will meet someone of the opposite sex in right age-range and there are success stories. Anywhere where you find single men and women there’s going to be some successful unions – that’s probability… and biology!

Overall though I have to be honest and say that the vast majority of men I met online were real stinkers! You see, the anonymity of online dating can attract some really strange, undesirable characters – from men with terribly poor social skills (who hide behind their laptop screens), obsessively emailing (proper oddballs – I think we all tire of the lazy pen-pals who can’t handle picking up the phone and having real human contact…) to ‘professional daters’ who peruse these sites looking for sex, to harrass, or even to scam unsuspecting women (and men).

For every positive story, many of my friends have at least 10 nightmare stories. The reality of online dating is that while women are generally looking for love and genuine relationships, the vast majority of men are looking for sex and seedy encounters – even those using the more reputable sites.

So, do be careful – take your time and don’t rush into anything. Let things develop at a good pace – this soon separates the men from the boys (!). If a guy/girl isn’t genuine they will start showing how shady they are sooner or later. You have every right, after the first couple of ice-breaker face-to-face dates, to ask about their past and see if they can back-up their claims about their previous relationships, jobs etc. Sorry but online ‘cyber dates’ or message sessions are not real life – you cannot get a true measure of someone until you’ve met them and got to know them over time. Report them if they are dodgy – if you don’t they’ll start deluding themselves that their dodgy behaviour is okay – it isn’t!

A tool but NOT a solution…should you give it a go?

Okay, so online dating is a fascinating experience and it does allow you to discover a lot about yourself; as you are forced to really ask yourself what you are looking for in a partner. It’s a tool but not a solution to dating. Often, once you actually meet up for a date (often a long process – some users are slightly addicted to emailing and fannying about, let’s be honest!) it all comes down to chemistry. Keep it simple, a quiet coffee somewhere safe and local and you can usually tell within that first date if you have a enough common ground to give a second date a crack…

Personally, I am giving online dating a break myself. Although I did do Match.com earlier this year, I found that now that I am much more savvy about these things, I can spot the time wasters a mile off. Interestingly, loads of the men who were on it four years ago are still on it and haven’t even changed their profile picture or info! (Not a good sign). No, my ‘quality control’ has most definitely stepped up and I have found meeting someone via a real life 3D social setting much more authentic for me and indeed, recently, this has been a pleasant experience…wooh!

I have to be honest when I say the journalist in me saw a lot of my experiences as great research and material, but I assure you, my intentions are and were totally sincere, honest!!

Finally, don’t put yourself under any pressure to sign up to a site and if you do keep your expectations firmly on the ground. If you are meant to meet the love of your life on a dating site, you will. Chances are you may well meet ‘the one’ at the gym, an evening class or at a friend’s wedding!

Good luck x

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