THE DOS AND DON’TS OF INTERNET DATING
Choose your site with care:
Choose your site according to your tastes and/or reading habits. If you are a reader of The Guardian, go for their site. If you are a keen listener of Classic FM, go for theirs.
Whilst you may not want to share all your partner’s hobbies (and I would recommend you not to), It does help communication to start off when you have a common ground.
I personally made my choice by age group and thus went to Our Time which specialises in daters aged 50 +. Later, I also joined EliteSingles.
Choose your name with care:
Your name may reflect one of your keen interests (Opera Fanatic) or your status. For myself, I chose ‘Dr Catherine’ which included my first name and the Dr referring to my PhD.
The jury is out as to whether you are better off using a moniker such as Opera Fanatic or your first name with an added attribute. Some people say that expressing your interest in (say) Opera may invite the viewer to contact you and ask your name.
Essentially, it is about what feels right for you.
Select at least one good photo:
On NO condition should you present a selfie – or even worse no picture at all. You will immediately appear to be a suspicious fraudster.
Remember this is the single (no pun intended) most important part of your profile; if you do not appeal to the viewer, he/she will not bother to scroll down the page.
Gentlemen, avoid at all costs the pictures of yourself in a tuxedo or at your offspring’s wedding. These are basically ‘uniforms’ which say nothing about you. How often do you wear a morning suit after all? Wear something that portrays your lifestyle. Think: would a woman in an evening dress say anything about her? Well then….
And … no pics with sunglasses! What are you hiding? Look me in the eyes, please!
Have a close friend take your picture or go to your local Snappy Snaps and ask them to take a photo of you. Or you may even want to hire a photographer.
If you go down this last route (which is a worthwhile investment in my view), you may find it worth your while to bring a change of clothes and accessories and have a series of shoots done on the day.
I would recommend you include more than one photo in your profile; these may be include snaps of you on a night out, a lunch with your family – again pics that convey your way of life or interests.
DO NOT LIE. Do you really want to start a relationship on a complete myth? Your age is your age; your marital status is what it is.
Include only contemporary pictures! No one is interested in what you looked like 20 years ago.
Do not pretend to be a swimmer when you dare not dip your toes in the water.
So apart from being honest about yourself, try to paint an accurate picture of yourself – your hobbies, interests. If you are a keen parent, say so and give an indication of the age of your children’s age. After all, you will be looking for a partner who will embrace your family, as well as yourself.
If, like me, you are a Townie – say so. It will reduce approaches from country dwellers (I say reduce because some daters do not know how to read…).
Reading the other party’s profile:
This is the most challenging part of the on-line dating process….
Keep a keen eye out for liars and serial daters. This is true as much of men as it is of women. I am sorry to say that some on-line profiles are there just as a honey trap…
The most risible one I recently encountered was actually through Facebook rather than the on line site, but the moral is the same; this was a man posing as an American-born surgeon practising in Yemen (complete with pictures of himself in the operating theatre). Not only was his English appalling, his spelling was even worse. My antennae were up immediately and I ceased all communications. (Having been bitten once before on another dating site, I am now very wary of any discrepancies in profiles/messages etc).
Beware also of daters who prefer to write to you at length but refuse to meet up with you. They are quite possibly trying to drag you into what I call a ‘net of neediness’, creating in you a slow dependency for their next text/message and slowly inveigling you into their world. Remember: you are not on this site to find a pen pal.
Whatever their motive, these people are trying to control you… Do you want that?
Contact with the other on-liners:
Do not be shy about contacting people who catch your interest. And, whatever you do, do not hide behind an emoji or a wink. You can start a conversation by asking about the dater’s hobbies/interests, or where they live in (say) London, or how long have they been on the site? How is it working?
Sooner or later, you will be asked for your email address/Hang Out/What’s App details.
Forever mindful of my personal safety (and, at the early stages of this relationship, my identity), I recommend you open an internet account on a server such as Gmail. Mine was drcatherine[xxxx]@gmail.com.
At this stage, the situation gets more complicated: very often you will find that your dater has also dropped out of the site. It is therefore important for you to keep a note of:
The dater’s moniker
Other details such as age, height, marital status etc.
What I do I cut and paste this information into my electronic Contact books.
At this stage, ladies, be prepared to be shocked … Your dater may decide to send you a pelfie, or what is also known as a Prick Pic – or to be clearer, a photo of his penis….. In my case, I was sent a photo of a semi-erect penis. The problem with his picture was that he was wearing black trousers and white socks [Yik!].
Be prepared to be asked for a ‘loan’:
Only recently, one dater – posing as an engineer on a Cargo Ship (and owner of one or more cargo ships) – advised me he was on his last on-board journey going from the UK to Australia – a 2 week journey. Then about a week later states he has had a really bad night , has not slept, as there is a problem with the ship relating to the engine crankshaft…. My Hercule Poirot ears lift up when he informs me the next day that – somehow – he has a problem with is on-line banking service.
I say nothing.
The following day, he asks for a favour; yes you guessed it! Could I possibly pay for this engine crankshaft. I decline, and cut all communications.
Gentlemen, you have to understand that the same thing happens with female daters who might suddenly develop health problems or require some funding to educate their child.
The excuses are amazing but I would dare say that an engine crankshaft is one of the most original (and least attractive)…
Very Important Note: Do NOT, on any grounds, send money to your dater!
Ah and now comes the next challenge…
Where, when and what to wear? and what else?
Where: Whatever the situation, meet in a public place. Personally, I like my dater to choose the venue; his/her choice may say as much about them as anything else. As a mature woman, i do not meet under the clock at Victoria Station looking like a lost soul. Instead, I meet at a determined venue where I can sit down and advise my date that I will be there wearing XYZ colour/a hat/ with a book. I find a book gives me countenance in the event of any delay on my date’s part. And as I am sitting down, composed and ready to meet him.
When: Having agreed on a time and place, do not wait more than 15 minutes. Be prepared to be stood-up. Out of 6 dates on my first 6 months on Our Time, I had 2 ‘no shows’. I never heard from one of them and the second gave a feeble apology the next day… Needless to say, that was the end of them.
What to Wear: You will want to feel comfortable in your chosen outfit, but also be mindful of what signal your ‘kit’ is sending out. Are your shoes polished? Are your clothes ironed? Have you shaved? Ladies, unless it is your intention, are you showing too much cleavage?
What Else?: Although this advice applies mainly to women, I would also extend it to men: let someone know:
– where you are going
– the dater’s details – in this respect, I attach the Dater’s profile I have cut and pasted from the site
– at what time.
Alert a friend of all the above and ..
and text them you have arrived home safely.
This advice may seem over-cautious to men, but you have to bare in mind that not everybody is who they say they are…… You, as a male, are as vulnerable to a plotting manipulator as any female out there might be with a gigolo. A friend of mine had his drink tampered with; he passed out and on coming to, he found himself in a flat bound to a chair and was beaten up till he released all his PIN numbers.
How do you part?
This is another hurdle in the on-line dating experience.
If you have met someone you are really attracted to, you do not need any advice from me, as to how to proceed.
If however you are not sure, there are various options:
– Thank you for a most enjoyable drink/coffee/meal
What do you think [put the ball in their court]?
– May I get back to you tomorrow?
– Create a comfortable exit (this is the only time in this experience when you may lie) – “ I am going away for a few weeks, I will call you when I get back”.
As a Dating Guru, I have flagged in this article how to go forward in your journey to finding your next partner.
My overall advice is to enjoy the experience and the potential, but … with care. Do not invest all your emotional hopes in finding The One through the site in Nano seconds, although he/she may well appear through this media; above all, see the funny side of this experience.