After numerous “romantic” adventures online and off over the past year or two, I've recovered sufficiently from my PTSD to report on what I've discovered thus far. Here’s a quick evaluation from a jaundiced ex-prisoner of online love:
Don't play like a girl.
Despite "equality," we women are still vulnerable creatures, due in equal part to our naivete and our unrealistic, girlish dreams of the perfect romance. Many online Lotharios are not even interested in a “love connection,” but are definitely phishing for emails to ravage or a quick “bite to eat." Don't be his Chicken McNugget.
No photo, no way.
Not because you’re shallow, but nine times out of eight the "invisible men" are married, from another land, and/or trolling for email addys to attack with spyware and other online “venereal” diseases of the new millennium. It’s a dirty world out there!
Try to put up flattering but realistic photos, and be as honest as you can about your assets. If you’re heavy or curvy or voluptuous, state it up front, as about half of the guys out there prefer slim women – though the tide has begun to turn. The other half apparently crave someone they can grab onto at night. Plus it’s incentive to hit the gym and eschew the Haagen Daaz – you’ve got men to meet, and the dating pool is larger when you get smaller.
Not a dating site, but a great way to meet people who share your interests, whatever they may be. If your Prince Charming just happens to be out there, so much the better – at least you know you have something in common other than, er, sex.
If it seems too good to be true, it always is.
Caveat emptor indeed…'nuff said. He has a villa in Italy; he thinks you're the most beautiful woman he's ever laid eyes on; he's in love; he's a world traveler. And I'm Michelle Obama.
Always let the guy make the first move.
Don’t even send an icebreaker. Yahoo Personal's MO is to track every profile you visit and “squeal” to the recipient of your gaze, and vice versa. Peeking at a profile is about as far as you should go. If love is a game, the old rules still apply: men like the chase. Deprive them of their hunting instincts at your own risk. If they like what they see, wild horses won't drag them away from contacting you.
Use your sixth sense.
Be hyper-aware of any inconsistencies in a profile, along with egregious syntax errors and typos. Many foreign scammers use the site for ill, and let’s face it, if a guy can’t even bother to hit spell check or master the art of a complete sentence, it ain’t gonna get any better.
Honesty cuts both ways.
Women lie about their age (I don't; nowadays it‘s not “necessary” anyway); men lie about income and profession. The irony being, of course, that the men who insist that all women are interested in is the size of their wallet are the very ones likely to lie about their monetary avoirdupois – thus attracting the golddiggers they rightfully deserve. Dishonesty is a deal-breaker; it will only get worse.
Avoid those who are phishers of women.
Don't be rushed into giving out your regular email addy til you are very comfortable – or, as many advise, create a special one just for online dating purposes. No reason to hurry, though. Many scammers collect emails which they then proceed to inject with spyware, which could lead to an assault on your credit card and other information. Get his number rather than give yours. If you do give your number, give a cell number – that’s what the boyz do, and when in Rome…
Anyone who says he is not into “games” very likely is.
Playas like women who are guileless and clueless about the mating game. Their goal? Checkmate from the first move on, with you as their love pawn. Game over.
Try IM chats.
As a screening device, IM’ing can reveal volumes and save you precious time.
You can quickly weed out the bores, the leches, the creeps, the fakes, the fetishists, the illiterati, the un- and underemployed, and the un- and under-intelligent. That’s what women’s intuition is about. But be careful whom you let into your IM world. Best to have an alias that's not similar to your email address. I've yet to figure out how to erase an unwanted contact.
Be selfish, but not snobbish, in your search criteria.
Women tend to be people pleasers, but when it comes to dating it’s best to be selective. Men can be very cold and calculating in this regard, and it’s not all about the looks either. They're generally quite practical about whether someone will fit into their lifestyle (and this may include married men looking for a little on the side – not a good territory to dive into: bad karma all around).
But since it's only dating, a casual approach is good.
You can meet someone for a drink or coffee even if they don't look like "the one." You can never really know a person until you meet them in the flesh, which is the whole point of dating in the first place.
Anyone who stands you up or otherwise disses you in any way is no good, period.
If he’s a no-show from the get-go, get out before you even get on board that love train. If they won't leave a message on your machine to let you know they can't make it, there's a reason why – like a wife, perhaps, or just a power/headgame trip at your expense. Make it a one-way exit.
Don’t expect true love, or even true like.
If you find it, it’ll be when you least expect it. Best thing to do is aim for friendship, with similar rules: no abusive behavior on either side; honesty; and the good old golden rule.
Desperation is a buzz kill.
I’m in quite a sweet spot, since my ex-boyfriend and I are the best of friends. He’s spoiled me for anyone else, thus far. Desperation will lead to desperate measures. And men and women alike can smell desperation – the stink of it penetrates into the darkest depths of cyberspace – despite the fact that we don’t yet have the means to scratch and sniff our potential partner online (pheromone download, anyone?)
Less is more.
Brevity is a virtue; don’t be in a rush; don't reveal too much too soon; engage as many as you can and politely weed out all but the ones who seem worth a gander. With any luck, this will leave enough contenders to keep you busy.
I could go on, but for now I’d treasure some feedback and maybe even some pointers. What say you all?