Fearlessly Dating Online

As a psychotherapist and coach, I'm in the unique position to hear from both men and women what they hate and love about online dating. I hear about red flags, things that work, and things that freak people out.
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What was once thought to be an act of desperation with a strong stigma attached is now commonplace. Matter of fact, Internet dating has become quite the norm and most people actually meet through some form of online method. Heck, even Martha Stewart is on Match.com. Let's face it, people are busy and are tired of going to bars looking for love so if nothing else, sites like Match, Ok Cupid, and Plenty of Fish offer a market place of sorts and if done right, can be incredibly efficient.

Five years ago my clients cringed with embarrassment in admitting they met their significant other through online dating. Today though, they have no problem whatsoever talking about it. As a psychotherapist and coach, I'm in the unique position to hear from both men and women what they hate and love about online dating. I hear about red flags, things that work, and things that freak people out. I have also helped hundreds of clients write their profiles and navigate the world of Internet dating.

Here's How to Be a Fearless Internet Dater

Do be honest when you describe yourself and what you're looking for. Doing so now will save you time and problems down the road. If you're looking for a serious relationship, then say so. If you're looking for something casual, then say it and don't mislead.

Don't be a fake. Way too many people try to be someone that they are not online because it's easy to. Anyone can create a persona that includes a more glamorous career than they actually have, or an enhanced image of themselves. Don't be that person. Be yourself and be honest.

Be specific in your profile. For example, if you like to dine out, then list the type of cuisine and perhaps even share your favorite restaurant. Or, if you like to travel, don't just say: "I like to travel." That's boring, unimaginative, and shows a lack of depth. Talk about a recent trip you took or a trip you're planning to take. It brings you and the topic to life making things all the more enticing.

Do describe yourself honestly. The goal is to meet so the person will see you soon enough. It's easy to know the difference between six feet and five foot two. Don't lie about height, weight, hair, or anything else.

Do post pics. Not doing so will only lead to suspicion and one will think worst case scenario: he/she is married, hideous looking, or crazy. Use a pic that accurately shows you and by all means, no shots of you with your ex or even him or her cut out. And professional head shots can be a bit stiff and show you're trying too hard. Stick to casual. If your career is high profile or visible and you're not comfortable posting picture then offer a genuine and honest explanation, but know this lessens tremendously your chances of actually connecting with people.

Avoid self-aggrandizing. Saying "I'm super successful" or "I'm very attractive" will come across as conceited. Even if you are super successful and attractive, let the other person draw that conclusion. After all, attractiveness is subjective. Just because your Mom thinks you are handsome doesn't mean Internet girl will too.

Decode the language. "A few extra pounds" might mean obese. "Experimented with drugs in college" might mean he/she was in rehab. And, "I run a company" might mean the person is starting up a side business and sinking all his extra time and money into it and won't be able to give you the attention you need.

Avoid using overused and clichéd lines such as "I'm just as comfortable at a dive bar as I am at a wine bar". Boring! Show your comfort level in a way that hasn't been done a million times before by others. Maybe talk about your favorite dive bar and the latest formal event you attended.

Do orient the meeting towards real life. Do not get into endless email exchanges. This will only lead to people creating unrealistic expectations of the other person and potentially wasting time.

Finally, plan to meet in a public place, obviously.
Do not go for a formal or expensive dinner. This is uncomfortable for both. Go for casual drinks or coffee and keep expectations in check: it's merely a meeting to get to know the person. Eliminate any "I'm meeting Prince Charming" or "future spouse" - that will create way too much pressure. Have fun!

For more fearless tips on dating, relationships, sex, and more check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

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