Internet Dating - Part 1: Getting Started
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Continuing from yesterday's column about internet dating....

So, you've decided that perhaps this wacky internet dating might just work for you. But how do you get started?

Rule #1: Be Honest

This is super important, so let me stress that again: you MUST be honest during this process, or it will not work out for you. If you think that you're going to fool someone into going out with you, and that they'll just learn to love the "real you" once they get to know you, you're kidding yourself. Part of the great thing about internet dating is that you hopefully won't waste as much time with non-compatible people, because you'll be able to screen out the bad ones in advance. If you lie, you're just going to end up wasting time - both yours and the person you duped into going out with you in the first place. So don't do it.

The other thing about honesty is making sure you're being truthful with yourself. By this I mean, be honest about who you are as a person, the things you value, and what you're really looking for here.

Decide what you're looking for

Take a moment and think about relationships you've had that worked for you. Then think about the ones that didn't. List the top 3-5 qualities you're looking for and the 3-5 things you consider turn-offs. Again, be honest with yourself here.

As an example, here's my real life list that I used.
YES: intellectual, feminist, and liberal; must also have sense of humor
NO: dumb, too young, too chipster-y

This list will help guide you through the next sections.

Step 1: Finding the online service that works for you

Now, there are lots of different internet dating sites available to you, plus some others you might not know about, so how do you go about finding the one that's going to work best for you? Many of these sites allow you to create profiles for free. Usually they get you by charging money for x number of "contacts" allowed - the mechanism by which you send a note to another member to initiate a real life date. So feel free to choose multiple sites. 1-4 sites is fine, just make sure you remember to check your inbox at each site (many don't allow email forwarding).

Regarding which sites to look for, my friend Johnathon has the following advice:
Try to join sites that match your interest (not necessarily dating sites)
I met my current ex on a online journal site called It's kinda of an alt/counterculture answer to myspace (might have been around longer). Gist here is don't go to Myspace expecting to find someone who's extremely intelligent and not carrying drama. You probably won't find it.
I agree with him - the key is to again look at the kind of person you are and the kind of person you might like to find, and then pick the site you want to go with from that. Again, knowing the type of relationship you prefer is also important here - some sites are more for people looking for long term relationships, others are more about making casual connections for those looking for some company without much commitment.

A run-down of some of a few popular sites, just to give you an idea.
  • general: This site is very much focused on people looking to form long-term relationships, with the end goal of finding someone to marry.
  • pros: Has lots of members (increasing your chances), intricate application which (in theory) helps better pair you with people based on a number of different personality traits. Does reject members, which may help weed out crazies.
  • cons: May be too "vanilla" for my more alternative readers out there. Won't accept/match gay members. Pro-marriage focus may turn off people looking for something more casual. Not a good site for those looking for friendship-only relationships. (or other sites on the Spring Street network)
  • general: This series of sites tend to gear towards younger, hipper crowds, who are probably more open to alternative culture in general.
  • pros: More "non-normies" then the more traditional sites, good number of overall members. Good for people looking for something with less commitment pressure. Young and "cool" members. Gay friendly.
  • cons: Wild west style membership means any crazy can put up a profile. Harder to find people looking for LTR. Limited search capability requires you to do some more digging to find quality matches (need to read each profile carefully). or
  • general: Social networking sites that focus on creating online groups of people who share common links such as academic background, etc.
  • pros: Easy to find people with a specific common interest (e.g. Obama supporters, Star Wars fans, Libertarians, fans of polka, whatever) who live in your local area. "Friend of a friend" connection means that they're not totally random strangers, and your IRL friend can help set you up on your first date. Wealth of knowledge on personal pages gives a more in-depth feel for who the person is.
  • cons: Many members not looking to meet people via these sites, so you may find yourself contacting people who just aren't interested. Myspace is infested with teeny boppers who will write crap like "LOL!1!! OMG!!!" to you, often via text message. Also, beware jail bait here.
  • general: You can find almost anything on this online classified site... perhaps even looove
  • pros: No frills site, no annoying ads. FREE to contact members. No forms to fill out - just write what you feel and see if anyone likes it.
  • cons: Anyone can post (watch out for psychos), awkward search interface, your ad may be buried 10 pages deep within a few days. Need a decoder ring to figure out some of the shorthand (what the hell is a SWF seeks MBM for LTR and CDL anyway?)
These are just a few off the top of my head. I can personally vouch for all of the above sites - I have friends who all have successfully met their significant others on each of the sites above (I used the Spring Street network to meet my boyfriend). You can also try, and a whole bunch of other sites. Just do a little homework, get a feel for the typical demographic that would frequent that site, and then see if it still sounds good.

There are also good sites for those with more specific tastes. Again, there's no shame in having a preference for a particular physical attribute, up to and including race. I have several friends who prefer to date others in a particular race, so a site such as may work for them (or whatever group they prefer). The same is true for sexual orientation - if you 're gay, you may find it easier to go to or or whatever and find their personals section.

Once you've found the sites where you want to start looking for that special someone, you then need to put yourself out there. Tomorrow I'll be discussing tips for writing the perfect online profile.

  • Email me at
Coming up tomorrow: how to write your online profile to attract the right people
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On 11:33 AM , SS+1 said...

Great post...looking forward to more :)