How to Meet Someone Through Online Dating

Author: by Alicia Guinn


Online dating is a fun, hip way to meet new friends and potential partners.  A lot of folks these days, especially those in urban areas, make first contact with potential dates online, and the personals ads, both online and in local papers, are quickly losing any stigma previously attached to them.


Everyone can date successfully online, and the online personals are great for people who want to expand their social circle, are new to town, don’t like the “bar scene” or who are dating under special circumstances. Online dating can be especially helpful for queer and kinky folks, people with disabilities, those in polyamorous relationships, or people looking for a non-traditional relationship.  An online profile lets you describe yourself and the relationship you’re looking for upfront, so that your dates know your situation. No need for awkward conversations after you’ve met someone!


Overall, the online personals are a safe, easy way to check out potential dates in your town–whether you’re looking for a friend, a hook-up, a fuck buddy, or a long term committed relationship.


Attitude.  The most successful online daters approach dating as an entertaining hobby. Don’t overload yourself with expectations. The odds of meeting the partner of your dreams on the first date are similar to winning the lottery. Pretty unlikely. Instead, you’ll probably meet some nice people. Some you’ll be attracted to. Some you won’t. You’ll go on good dates, mediocre dates and boring dates. And it’s guaranteed that you will go on at least one outrageously bad date. The silver lining? You’ll have a great story to tell your friends. In fact having a group of friends who are actively dating can give you emotional support and make the dating scene a lot more fun.

  1. Think about your expectations.  Before you start assembling a profile, think about what you’re looking for.  Do you want a life partner?  A casual sex date?  A friend with benefits?  A tennis partner?  Be honest with yourself about the kind of relationship you’re looking for, and then be honest with potential dates.  If you won’t settle for anything less than true love, don’t say you’re searching for a friend!  And if you’re looking for casual sex, don’t try to reel people in by saying you’re in the market for marriage.

  2. What do you want in a partner? Also, start analyzing the qualities you find attractive in others.  If there are things that are absolute deal-breakers for you, don’t hesitate to put them in your profile, preferably toward the end. We all have different criteria for choosing partners, so don’t assume that your idea of Ms./Mr. Right jives with everyone else’s.  Be clear about your sexual orientation.  And if there is no way you will ever, ever date a Republican, a Democrat, a Socialist, a Mormon, an atheist, a New Ager, a 60-year-old, an 18-year-old, a smoker, a pothead, a Britney Spears fan, or a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, make sure you specify that in your profile.  That said, don’t limit yourself too much.  Online dating is a great way to explore dating people who don’t necessarily conform to your “type.”  Keep an open mind!

  3. Think through safety issues. Whenever you’re meeting a stranger for a date, you should have your personal safety in mind. Use common sense.  Always meet for a date in a safe public space. It’s not a bad idea to let friends know where you are. Don’t give out personal information like your home address or your workplace before meeting someone. Some people only correspond over e-mail before a date, and give their phone number out to people they are interested in meeting again. Be scrupulous about your safer sex habits if you’re hooking up with someone you don’t know very well, and always come prepared with some condoms and lube.

  4. Put some effort into your profile. Successful profiles are honest, easy-to-read, and unique. Most people put up a profile without giving it much thought, so you can stand out in a crowd if you actually take time to craft your profile. Do some research to check out your competition. Remember that you’re selling yourself to potential hot dates!  It’s worth a couple hours work if you can nab the attention of lots of hotties out there. Here are a few helpful tips on composing a successful profile:

    • Emphasize your unique qualities. Do you have an obsessive relationship with your favorite band? A lifetime goal of traveling to a specific place? An interesting job? A favorite hobby? You want to appear interesting, but remember to be honest!

    • Upload a recent flattering photo or two. A good photo can go a long way toward making a good first impression. You don’t need professional photos, but you should not under any circumstance upload a scanned copy of your driver’s license photo!

    •  Avoid phrases that you find repeated over and over in other profiles. In other words, think twice before saying that you love long, romantic walks on the beach. And don’t you dare title your profile “[Insert witty quotation here]!”  

    • Have a friend proofread your profile before you put it online.

  5. Keep the first date low-key. Most online daters go for a coffee or a drink on the first date.  Both activities take about an hour. Enough time to check someone out, but not too much time if you find yourself on an extraordinarily boring or strange date. Lots of folks schedule time with friends immediately afterward, so they have a good excuse if they need to leave right away.

  6. Brush up on your flirting skills! You can make a good impression by learning to portray confidence. Work on maintaining eye contact, straightening your posture, keeping your body language open, and practicing good listening skills.  You can also practice making small talk with the grocery checker, the bank teller, and your fellow commuters on the bus as a way of learning how to have conversations with strangers. A book like Superflirt can also help you develop your flirting skills.

  7. Be assertive. Don't sit around waiting for someone to contact you, go after what you want. Sure if you’re a woman looking to date men, you may be able to put up a free profile and wait for the responses to come flooding in. But the great thing about online dating is that it's a really easy, safe way to practice being more assertive sexually (or socially), which isn't something a lot of women were taught growing up. And reading other people's profiles is a great way to play the field, while also paying attention to what does or doesn't turn you on. So regardless of your gender or orientation, we encourage each of you to go after your heart's desire! Buy those credits, invest in a membership, and just see what turns up!