Many couples are now meeting through dating sites, and this method of finding love has lost some of the stigma it used to have. Some tips for navigating the world of online dating:
-- Before you fire up the browser, make a list of what you really want. There's nothing wrong with wanting marriage -- or with just wanting sex! -- but it's very important to be clear in your own mind so you can weed out people who aren't interested in the same end result.
-- Start with local sites. Long-distance relationships are difficult, and a far-away love interest stands a better chance of not being who he or she claims to be.
-- If you are only interested in meeting people from your religion, ethnic group, or other identifying characteristic, you may be able to find a site that specializes in Christian dating, (or Jewish, African-American, pet owner, vegan, fitness nut, conservative -- you get the idea).
-- Choose a "handle" (online name) that isn't overtly sexual. It will turn off the right people and attract the wrong ones.
-- Write an honest, interesting profile, with an appealing picture of you (and NOT one with your ex clumsily cropped out). Write about the things that make you stand out. Everyone likes good food and walking on the beach. If you like to make sushi and walk the beach with your two St. Bernards, say that. Pay attention to spelling and grammar!
-- When you respond to someone online, read their profile and compose a response based on common areas of interest. Remember, this person may be getting 20 or 100 replies. Make yourself stand out with personal attention.
-- When you've established a mutual interest, try to meet in person as soon as possible. If you're only exchanging e-mails and instant messages, it's too easy to turn another person into your fantasy partner rather than knowing who he/she really is.
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