A question that is often asked, with a certain amount of incredulity, is "does online dating really work?". Online dating has its pros and cons; chemistry is immediate when you meet someone in the checkout line at the supermarket. However you really have no idea who the person is that you are so enamored with - is he or she married? Children? Do they smoke and so forth. When you read an online dating profile all of those questions are spelled out  - the chemistry question between the two of you can only be answered when you meet. This article describes the steps you need to take to meet that special someone.

First things first; decide on a dating site. The paid sites include Match.Com, Millionairematch.com and Yahoo Personal. The free include Plenty of Fish and OKCupid. You can look inside all of them for free to see the quality of search results.

The biggest turn off for men and women is actually just getting their profile online! Its sort of like a resume of yourself only with much more emphasis on the personal "you". Most people do not like to write about themselves or simply do not know what their selling points really are. If you have a friend or family member that you can ask candid questions with then ask them to give you five or more keywords that describe the man or woman that you are. How to write a great online dating profile: when writing a profile its important to keep it balanced: describe you past life a little, your current situation and lifestyle and what the future looks like for you. Now describe the partner you want to share your life with. This is the most important part of the profile. Its amazing that most men (perhaps women?) spend more time researching the best big screen TV to buy or the best car to drive, than they do choosing the love they want. How about jotting down a few points on what you really, really, really want in your life long partner?! On a piece of paper write down the "must have" qualities that you want this special man or woman in your life to have. Then list the definite "do not want" qualities and finally a list of "nice to haves". An example of this could include: "must have": a sense of humor and keep in good mental and physical shape. A "do not want" attribute may be: does not smoke and finally nice to have: a million dollars in their savings account. It would perhaps be far too much information to divulge the whole list in a public profile about your relationship needs, so distill the list to less than a handful of points.

Photographs. A GOOD photograph of your self is the most important thing you will be posting in your online dating profile. Do not post photographs that show you with your children, no photos with inappropriate photos in the background - like your wedding picture, no pose next to the laundry basket or next to a TV thats turned on - because thats a big turn off for lots of people. Many people online obviously had no recent photos of themselves and resorted to an outstretched arm and a cell phone camera. If you are serious about meeting a really nice person and falling in love with them  - then get recent photographs taken - of you! Ask a friend to take some candid shots in a local park - under the light shade of a tree can be good, sitting on a chair. Photographs of you during an activity you enjoy are also great shots that tell a story about whats important to you. Photos of you hiking, walking on a beach, picnicking or riding a bike. A full length shot is always appreciated by the one interested in you. If they don't see you full length in your profile then they certainly will when you meet for the first time. So be upfront with yourself and others because it will otherwise save you both an awful lot of time. If he is looking for “Barbie” then the pic will let him decide whether to pursue you; if she is looking for the “incredible hulk” then let her decide if your worth the time. One last thing about photo’s and this is for men only. Some men ask for naked pictures of the woman on the first phone call or the very first message response. Men  -do not do that! Holly cow -at least wait until you have bought her dinner before asking for such personal and closely guarded details. To woo a woman means having patience, a trait that most (all?) woman find very sexy; if a man can wait for intimate details and wait for sex for the amount of time that the woman wants -a week or several months -then that man has already got incredible sexual interest in such a confident and patient man. So calm down men and respect that special woman's desires -you will be very glad that you did.

One last profile tip concerns your likes or activities. Some profiles have a dizzy array of sports and activities that the reader may be exhausted just reading that profile. Seriously, when filling out the profile, answer the question of “what do you like to do for fun” with more honesty. Just because you may have gone scuba diving 27 years ago does not make you a scuba diver now and it may not be something you ever want to do again. Which brings me to the future; perhaps you should think about just being wide open to all sorts of possibilities with your new love? You may just really like it! So state that in your profile.

OK, so your profile is up and running, so now what?! Women can get ten times the inquires than men do. Thats the way its supposed to work - even online women like to be pursued. The first thing that can happen is that you get a message from someone that wants to know more about you. It can be simply “hello, great profile, are you interested in my profile?”. Straight to the point. Choosing whether to say “no thanks” can be tricky. No  matter how polite you may think you are being. someone may be offended with a reply back that's asks you “why not?”. Do NOT be tempted to go into details of “why not”, it will really serve no purpose for either of you in the long run and will probably just antagonize the reader into launching a verbal attack on you.


Communication. As mentioned above the initial way of "meeting' someone online is via a message on the dating site. You can continue to message via that same dating site and your private email address will never be compromised. You may feel comfortable with this person and decide its easier to corresponds via email   -especially at work, no one wants to surf a dating site while at work. Handing out a telephone number can lead to a much better connection. You can hear laughter (or not!) when you make a funny remark, you can hear feelings in their voice and you can learn so much more information on a 30 minute phone call than a few paragraphs in an email. Even further would be to video chat. Approach this topic with caution  -especially if you are the man asking to video chat with a woman. Some woman have been asked to do the same only to find that the requester does not really want to chat, they just want to see them on video - but in a bathing suit or similar. Video chat is the next best thing to actually being with someone and can show so much about your interaction with each other.

Now on to security. Do NOT give out email address (the messages on the dating site are all anonymous links), do NOT give out your phone number - you can call him or her without caller ID. Do NOT tell them where you work. Save all of this information after you have met with them and you get a gut feel for them. Arrange your first meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop. No night time meet ups in a park. No hiking trails into the countryside. Nothing fancy - keep it simple. Why on earth would you offer or accept a dinner invitation, that may last several hours, with a person you have never met? The cost of which should also be an issue. Men - do NOT do this! Wait! Make sure that she is at least worth spending an evening with in addition to spending money on a first meeting. Its not really a “date” - it may morph into a date. You may arrange to meet for coffee at 3pm. Transfixed into each other eyes and giddy with excitement you go for a walk near the coffee shop and arrange to just go ahead and have an early bird special at a nearby restaurant. Safety  -take your own car to get there! Places that are small and noisy are not recommended. Starbucks fits that bill. You don't want the coffee grinder thingy blasting in your ear every few minutes while wondering if his answer to your question was that he has no children or did he say four? An interesting place to meet is an indoor shopping mall and here is why: as you stroll around the mall its a bit more relaxing for both of you  - awkward silence can be disguised as window shopping and people watching. Use the opportunity to ask each other about likes and dislikes with clothing, shoes and decor. People watching can elicit all sorts of segue’s to a great conversation. Relax and enjoy the meeting. LISTEN to what he or she is telling you, we all wants to be appreciated and truly listening is a big part of feeling appreciated.

Be picky when you choose to meet someone from the internet dating site and do not rush into too many meetings too fast. You will find yourself overwhelmed with far too much information from too many people and it will get confusing and that may lead to an embarrassing moment. Enjoy the experience and have fun learning more about yourself and what it is you want out of life.