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INTERNET dating has come of age. No longer the secret pursuit of the sad and lonely, it’s now an out and proud 21st-century phenomenon.
There are more than 800 dating websites in the UK, with more than three million members. The reasons for the boom are varied.
First, the stigma has gone. Online dating is now even considered cool. Second, it’s hard to find a new partner if you work a 48-hour week.
For women, it’s especially liberating. Where else can you approach and chat to any number of men in one night, without worrying about washing your hair THE SITESWith so many dating sites to choose from, it’s hard to knowwhere to start.
Many promise thousands of members, all of whom could be dream dates. It’s tempting to sign up with the first site you enter.
But dating sites are like lunch – there are no free ones – so make sure you try before youbuy. If you’re the sort of person who hangs out in art galleries, you’re unlikely to find loveon a site where mostmembers’ reaction to the arts question is: “Over myhead PROFILESHow you pitch yourself andwhat you choose to include could be the difference between dating disaster and success.
In the multiple choice section, it can be tempting to massage the truth. Women sometimes gloss over their excess pounds (for voluptuous, read overweight) while men have a habit of lying about their hair (for salt and pepper, read salt).
In the In My OwnWords section, try to write something that will make your profile stand out, not blend in with the crowd PHOTOSThanks to the introduction of photographs, dating is now less blind. But that’s no excuse for making it dumb.
While it’s always a good idea to post a picture – profiles with photos attract 10 times more mail – don’t assume any will do. An alarming number of men seem to think a shot of them posing shirtless in the bedroom is a natural way to woo.
Women have an unhealthy tendency to drag small children or Teddy into the frame. The best advice is to post a picture in which you are smiling and relaxed. But relaxed does not mean drunk EMAILSA perfectly put-together profile is useless if you ruin the effect in your mail. The No.1 offence is spam – those round-robin emails that are sent out to everyone in the hope that someone will bite.
Then there’s the uninspiring “Hi, I like your profile” email which, unless you look like Brad Pitt, won’t net you much of a response.
Remember, online flirting is not dissimilar to offline flirting – show a friendly and informed interest’.’
There is no better place for birds of a feather to flock together than the internet. It brims with dating sites to suit every possible interest or taste.
Can’t find anyone as tall as you? Try US-based tallfriends. com(around pounds 5 a month), “where tall friends and singles feel at home”.
In the same league as you? Check out beautifulpeople. net whose members decide whether you’re fit to join their ranks. There are also sites for people who might otherwise feel socially isolated, for example single parents (othersingleparents. com).
THE DATEEmail relationships can be surprisingly seductive, but at some stage you have to bring them into land. Before arranging a date, it’s advisable to speak on the phone first.
The advantage of calling someone is that it gives you a chance to pull out of the date, but make sure you have a Plan Bup your sleeve. The first moments of meeting can be nervewracking, but that doesn’t mean youshould down a bottle of wine first. Even if your date doesn’t matchup to expectations, give them a fighting chance (i. e. more than half an hour).
If internet dating has shaken up the straight dating world, it has turned the male gay scene upside down.
One megasite – gaydarguys. co. uk – dominates. The net has eased the coming out process, especially for younger men.
EXPERT ADVICEIt takes nerve to advertise your single status in an internet shopwindow. It can be galling if you send out 100 emails and get no replies. Or go on lots of first dates but never make it to a second.
“Expect to meet fun, interesting people,” said personal development expert Sarah Whittaker. “Don’t expect to find someone to make you whole.
“Men often put women into two camps – short-term fling or long-term prospect. Dress too sexily and youmay consign yourself to the first group,” said relationship psychologist Max Blumberg. # Susan Broom is the co-author with Marc Zakian of Love @ First Site, published on September 1 by Icon Books at pounds 5.99