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.