Dear Charly: what do I need to know before trying online dating?

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New to online dating

So you’ve decided to try online dating but you don’t know where to start. Our resident agony aunt Charly Lester shares her top tips  

Hi Charly,

I’ve recently come out of a long-term relationship and want to give online dating a try. But, I’m now in my mid-30s and haven’t been on a date since I was 22! What do I need to know before signing up?

Jess

Hi Jess,

Thanks for your email.

First things first – congratulations! It might not feel like it, but you’re about to start a really exciting journey. Online dating in 2017 will give you access to literally thousands more people than you had back when you were 22 – and that’s a really exciting prospect!

Next up; it sounds like you’ve already made the first step and decided that online dating is for you, which is great. Having made this decision, you need to choose a site. Now, obviously, you’ve emailed your question to eHarmony, so it sounds like you already have a site in mind! But, for anyone who hasn’t yet made up their mind, here are a few points that may help with your decision:

  1. Most people use more than one site or app at a time. This is a great way to get a feel for which site suits you best. As someone once said to me, it’s almost like you have to ‘date the sites themselves’ to work out which is the best fit! My rule of thumb is to try the site that attracts people that you want to meet; as opposed to the one I may personally like the best.
  2. While you’re trying out different sites, you might want to opt for a shorter subscription period. These are often more expensive but they do allow you to properly work out which site works best for you and, when you’ve found ‘the one’, you can commit to that site with a longer, cheaper subscription.
  3. Some good things to think about when working out the best site for you include checking how many members a site has in your area, assessing the intentions of other users, and checking the site has the right number of matches in your age range. Different types of daters will date in different places online.
  4. Not all sites have safety procedures in place to protect your data and prevent scammers. For your securing and peace of mind, I’d suggest checking that your chosen site is a member of the Online Dating Association – this is a trade body and all member sites adhere to a strict code of conduct.

Having decided on your site, it’s time to set up your profile. I always recommend doing this with a friend if you have time. It makes the experience a lot more fun and you can get your friend to check that you’re answering the questions honestly and using photos that genuinely look like you!

Think about the person you’re portraying in your profile – is it a true reflection of yourself? There’s no point trying to be someone else. The whole point of dating is to meet someone who likes you for being you.

Avoid using photos that are more than two years old. If you don’t wear the clothes that you’re wearing in a particular photo anymore because they don’t fit, or it was so long ago that you’ve got rid of them, you shouldn’t be using that photo!

Avoid photos with other people in because they just distract and confuse people. If you’re doing an activity in a photo, think carefully about what it says about you. Is it something you do regularly? Or is it giving the wrong impression about how active you are/how often you go out drinking etc.? A picture really can tell a thousand words.

Other than that, just get going! The quicker you sign-up, the quicker you’ll start chatting to – and meeting – new people.

Make the most of the experience, I promise you won’t be single forever and I just hope you’ll look back on your online dating days as a really fun time where you met some great people.


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