So, ladies, are you ready to make the leap to online dating?
If you're still hesitating, then consider this:
Many women have had success with online dating -- not only in the short-term, but the long-term as well. For example, one online dating service, eHarmony, claims to have been the meeting spot for several hundred marriages.
While online, do you have to do the initial pursuing? Not necessarily. According to Match.com, one of the world's largest dating services, its subscribers say men are more likely to initiate online e-mail exchanges.
However, men and women do approach this dating tool with different expectations. Most women are better verbal communicators than men, and so are better at "selling" themselves through the words they use in their online profiles. Women also feel more comfortable in expressing their feelings through the online correspondence that is part-and-parcel of online dating.
On the other hand, men in particular rely on visual stimulation. (Desmond Morris' classic book, The Naked Ape, documents this trait quite well.) And yet, because a major part of the online dating process is the online profile and subsequent e-mail correspondence that it generates, online dating is the antithesis of this primal urge.
Welcome to dating 2004.
For women who want their cyberdating experiences to be safe and pleasurable, here are four important tips:
Tip #1: Take your time. Be responsible about the initial information you put out, and don't fall in love based solely on what someone writes: either in their online profile or during initial e-mail correspondence. One of the strengths of online dating is that you can see a photo first, and ask a lot of questions before setting up the meet and greet. If you feel more comfortable by taking things slow, then set a pace that works for you.
Tip #2: Keep realistic expectations. Will you meet Mr. Right? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. What will happen, however, is that you'll increase your odds of doing so -- and you'll certainly refine your dating technique and your relationship criteria.
Tip #3: Always stay within your comfort zone. After you volley e-mails back and forth, use the telephone as your next level of screening. Have as many phone conversations with your online date as you need before agreeing to meet. Don't agree to meet at either your or his home on the initial date: pick a locale that is a public place, preferably in a neighborhood you know well, and tell friends where and when you're going. Most importantly, trust your instincts about what you read or see. Inconsistencies are red flags. If some things that your online date writes or says sound too good to be true, or he contradicts what he previously wrote, or he refuses to give you his phone number, trust your gut that he's not right for you. Above all, don't feel obliged to meet anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
Tip #4: Expect to go through this process several times. Keep in mind that online dating is just one of many tools you can use to find a potential soul mate. Yes, you will be meeting many people, but not all of them will be right for you -- and that's okay. Regardless of how, when, and where you meet people, dating is never a risk-free activity. A careful attitude, coupled with an open heart, will move your dating desires from virtual to reality.