“The Best Online Advice I’ve Ever Heard Is…”

We asked the nation’s leading experts to reveal their top tips for finding love online. Try a few and see where your romantic life leads...

By Julie Taylor

Stick to a one-hour rule
“Spend an hour a day max looking for dates online. Get an egg-timer if you have to. It might be tempting to stare at the screen for four hours at a stretch, but anything in excess is usually a bad thing. It’s like exercise. We all know those gung-ho people who start exercise regimens and overdo it that first week. Most of them get hurt, give up and never go back to it. The same happens in online dating. But if you pace yourself, you’ll lessen your odds of burnout—and increase your odds of success.”
—Bev Bacon, author of Meet Me...Don’t Delete Me! Internet Dating: I’ve Made All the Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!

Share stories in your profile
“When writing your profile keep this rule in mind: Show, don’t tell. Instead of saying you’re funny or
Fill your profile with lines that are so unique they could only be written by you.
down-to-earth, show you’re funny or down-to-earth by sharing a story about a time you were one of those things. This will help fill your profile with lines that are so unique they could only be written by you, and that will help you stand out from the crowd.”
—Evan Marc Katz, founder of and author of I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating

Add sex appeal to your subject line
“When you send out your initial email to someone, give the subject line some sex appeal. Instead of sticking with a boring ‘Hello,’ reference something specific in their profile—such as, ‘Sunday NY Times Poolside’ or ‘Barcelona or Bust.’ By writing a fun and specific subject line, you will make connections faster.”
—Liz H. Kelly, author of SMART Man Hunting

Keep your facts straight
“In a classic embarrassment of riches scenario, it’s common to find yourself in the situation of having too many online suitors. You can use technology to keep them straight—cut and paste everyth ing from profiles and pictures to email and responses into spreadsheets or word processing programs, then create a file for each person you’ve contacted. This is especially useful at the beginning of your communications, when you’re still trying to remember which username goes with which real name. And make sure you review your date’s profile before emailing, phoning or meeting face-to-face.”
—Alyssa Wodtke, co-author of Truth, Lies, and Online Dating: Secrets to Finding Romance on the Internet

Don’t share all your online horror stories
“Too often, singles get caught in that downward spiral of having a couple of bad dates in a row and then bringing that bad attitude onto the next date with them. When I was online dating, I met plenty of guys who would say, ‘Whew, you won’t believe some of the horrible online dates I’ve had lately’ and then they’d go into excruciating detail. It was like once they met someone they clicked with, they immediately felt the need to share all those bad experiences. No thanks!”
—Cherie Burbach, author of At The Coffee Shop: If You Thought E-Dating Was For Freaks And Weirdos, Read This Book!

Know your target audience
“Keep in mind that you’re not just writing a profile that captures who you are; you are writing a profile to appeal to a potential love match. If you’re a straight woman, don’t compose a profile that would appeal to your girlfriends. Shopping and crafts are not male magnets. Avoid sounding too domestic and gushingly romantic, and edit out any hint of negativity like ‘Most guys are dogs’ or ‘Sick of liars!’ That tells a guy you distrust all men—and most will steer clear. The same principal applies to straight guys. Don’t come across sounding macho or distrusting; for example: ‘I don’t want to be your meal ticket.’ Sounding too sexy also turns women off, so avoid referring to yourself as ‘Adonis,’ or ‘Red-Hot Lover.’ Similarly, if you’re gay, don’t describe yourself to appeal to new friends—describe what will entice and attract potential partners.”
—Judsen Culbreth, author of The Boomer’s Guide To Online Dating

Get personal in your initial email
“Take the time to find something in a person’s profile that’s meaningful and significant, then comment on it. If you’re going after some hottie who’s getting a hundred emails a day, things can get competitive, so it’s important to set yourself apart. Saying ‘I can’t believe you actually got to the base camp of Mt. Everest’ will show that you have taken the time to craft a personalized response and aren’t just cutting and pasting some generic greeting. It’s better to send out ten carefully constructed emails than a hundred winks!”
—Julie Ferman, online dating coach for

Broaden your horizons
“Why limit yourself to your immediate geographical area? Don’t deny yourself the best possible mate just because they happen to live a few hundred miles away. Even if you don’t want to move, you may meet someone who would be willing to relocate just to be with you. When I was on in 1998, I did a search within 500 miles of where I was living. Drew lived 482 miles away. And now we’re married!”
—Kathryn Lord, author of Find a Sweetheart Soon!

Post a photo already
“To get a decent number of responses, you must post a picture. Would you want to meet up with someone not having any clue what they look like? It not only saves you time but keeps your date’s expectations about what you look like at reasonable levels as well.”
—Patti Feinstein, founder,

Choose your photo carefully
“Before you post a picture, ask someone you trust to check it out and give you an honest opinion. You’d be amazed at how many
To get a decent number of responses, you must post a picture.
bad pictures there are out there. I’ve seen guys who’ve posted photos with their ex-girlfriend standing next to them, whited out. A woman who posts a picture of her kissing a pixie dog is saying, ‘You are going to compete with a dog for my affections!’ Many women who don’t have kids post photos of themselves holding babies, which suggests you’re a single mom. Nothing wrong with that, of course—but you need to post a picture that portrays you accurately.”
—Michael Lasky, co-author of Online Dating for Dummies

Don’t fall in love with an email
“Too often, people think they’ve fallen in love with someone through email or over the phone before they even meet. People have actually quit their jobs and moved cross-country to be with someone without once meeting face-to-face—that’s not advisable! Face it: Your mind can conjure up lots of romantic notions when you’re reading these wonderful emails—but nothing replaces that face-to-face meeting. Do you feel a physical connection or not? It’s that elusive spark of attraction that separates great friends from lovers. Make sure it’s there before you let your fantasy override reality.”
—Eva Eschner, author of Virtual Foreplay: Making Your Online Relationship a Real-Life Success

Size up the competition
“Do a search for people exactly like you. If you’re a 28-year-old woman living in Pittsburgh, do a search of other 28-year-old women in Pittsburgh, then read at least twenty profiles. You’ll find that most profiles are absolutely the same. This will help you learn to stand out from the crowd and offer something different. Ask yourself what sets you apart from the others, then highlight that.”
—Ron Geraci, online dating consultant

Keep first dates short and sweet
“People can usually tell within the first five minutes if they are interested in someone, so why prolong the agony if you’re not? Instead of meeting for a looooong dinner on that first date, meet for a drink or cup of coffee instead. If you enjoy someone’s company, you can always extend the date—but if it’s obvious it’s not a love connection, you can guzzle your drink and be outta there within a half hour!”
—Renee Piane, author of Love Mechanics

Try feng shui for success
“Use feng shui—an ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects to achieve harmony—to help you achieve success in online dating. Place a glass container of water, pebbles, and three sticks of bamboo to the left of your PC. This will help you ‘grow’ success to anything coming off your computer. To the right, place a mirror. Mirrors expand and enhance your search. And since romance is signified by pairs of things, get a pair of candles for your workspace. Light them once in awhile to bring the energy in.”
—Ann Billow, author of The Feng Shui Toolbox with Power Tools (

Don’t become a professional online dater
“Professional online daters are people who are so caught up in the thrill of online dating that they never get serious with anyone. They might go on a few dates with someone, or even get into a relationship, but at the first sign of trouble, they bolt back online to search for someone better. They have this grass-is-always-greener mentality, and it’s a dangerous pattern to fall into. Give the people you’re meeting the chance they deserve, or you might just miss out on that deserving person who could change your life.”
—Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine (

Julie Taylor’s top online-dating tip is to always be easy on the eyes—place your computer screen 20 to 26 inches away from your peepers to prevent eye strain!
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