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          The Dos and Don’ts of Dating Online

          July 13, 2006

          These days, going online is as common a way to meet someone as a blind date or the bar scene, and you can connect to people of all ages, religions, professions and backgrounds from all over the globe. Online dating can be a great tool for broadening your options as long as you are smart, are cautious and take some very important safety steps.

          Creating Your Online Dating Profile

          Questions to ask yourself before you write your profile:

          • What is special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about you or your life story?
          • What details of your life, personal or family challenges, history, people or events have shaped you or influenced your life goals?
          • What have you learned about past relationships, in terms of yourself?
          • What are your relationship goals?
          • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial or physical) in your life?
          • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, persistence) do you possess, and how can you demonstrate that you have these characteristics?
          • Why might you be a stronger candidate than others?
          • What is the single most compelling reason you can give a person to be interested in you?

          Jim Safka, CEO of offers these tips:

          • Do include a photo. People who’ve uploaded a photo get 15 times more attention than people who don’t have a photo.
          • Make sure you smile in your photos. That sexy face you’re making? It may come across to some people like your scary face.
          • Don’t hide your face behind a pair of sunglasses or a hat. Potential love interests will want to be able to see your beautiful face.
          • Don’t show too much skin. Nobody wants to see you pose seductively in your kitchen in your tighty whities.
          • Do make your headline a grabber. Think of all the great advertising slogans you’ve ever heard. They’re imprinted in people’s minds. You want to do the same thing with your profile.
          • Consult your friends and family for help in writing your online profile. There are things that they love about you that you might not otherwise think about for yourself.
          • Don’t use clichés. You may love long walks on the beach, but who doesn’t? Say something interesting about yourself that is unique to you.
          • Don’t forget to run spell-check. If you have misspelled words in your profile, it tells the world that you just don’t care about what you’re doing.
          • Do respond to every e-mail that you get. If you were walking down the street and someone said hello, you’d probably say hello back. It’s the same protocol online. Respond, even if the answer is a simple, “No, thanks.”
          • Keep it light. Your first e-mail should not be a rant about how expensive gas prices are. Keep it lighthearted in tone and keep it simple.
          • Don’t reveal confidential information in your e-mail exchanges. If you were at a local coffee house, you wouldn’t give out your home address to just anyone standing in line.
          • Don’t meet in person until you’ve actually talked on the phone. You know voice and sound are great way to judge chemistry.

          Cyber Safety

          • Verify information on a potential match as thoroughly as possible.
          • Always create a separate e-mail account for your online dating activity.
          • Get a post office box, rather than using your home address, to register for the dating site. (Do this for all sites where an address is required.)
          • List your cell phone number, not your home number, if the site requires one.
          • Change your cell phone billing address so it goes to your post office box. That way, if some nut has access to a backward phone book (one with phone numbers in numerical order and their corresponding addresses) he can’t look up your address.
          • When chatting or e-mailing, never give more than a first name, and keep it that way until the first date.
          • Install a privacy checker on your computer. This lets you set privacy standards and be alerted when a dating site doesn’t meet them. These checkers are often free and can be downloaded online.

          For more information, see Chapter 8 in Dr. Phil’s book, Love Smart: Find the One You Want — Fix the One You Got.

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