Online Dating? 4 Success Tips

Looking for love on the web? Here, simple little strategies that can really rev up your romantic life.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

our inbox is so lonely it’s starting to welcome all that junk mail. Your profile gets some nibbles, but your romantic side inevitably ends up going hungry. Despite some interested parties, after a few emails, you just aren’t getting the results you want from online dating.

But it doesn’t have to be that way—at all. Think about it: Pretty much all of us know
Nothing says “I’m desperate” like writing a little too often.
someone who met his or her sweetie online. Want to join the ranks of the successful? There are four common mistakes most online daters make at one time or another. And there are a lot of ways to avoid them. Following this easy advice will help you bypass the gaffes and get you well on your way to writing your own love story.

Tip #1: Don’t write too often.
Nothing says “I’m desperate” like writing a little too often. “Don’t write someone again if you haven’t heard back from the person,” counsels Andrea Syrtash, host of On Dating which airs on ON Networks. “You don’t want to appear overly needy.” And even if the other person is writing you back, resist the temptation to keep the correspondence going too long. “If you’re interested in meeting the person after a few emails, better to book a date than continue to write for months,” says Syrtash. A good rule of thumb: Exchange three emails apiece, then get on the phone once or twice and plan to meet up. (Of course, if your gut tells you slower is better, follow your instincts—it’s all about feeling comfortable.)

Tip #2: Spell-check—seriously.
Spelling errors and grammar gaffes have a way of doing in a budding relationship. These errors are most frequently made when we’re in a hurry or excited or nervous. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same: a bad impression. “Folow my adbice,” typed Myles Reed Jr., author of Fishing for Love on the Net when questioned on this topic. “Sorry, I’m really not stupid. I was distracted when I wrote that.
Check your baggage for a while when you meet someone new online.
Lesson: Pay attention when you write.” Take time to spell- and grammar-check your emails. It shows you’re willing to invest some effort in wooing the other person.

Tip #3: Move forward… but not too fast.
“Many people are afraid of that first conversation, thinking they will make a fool of themselves,” explains Patricia Nowak, author of The ABCs of Widowhood. But avoiding moving things forward — to a phone call, then to a face-to-face — can wreck your romantic momentum. Now, here’s one key bit of info to remember: You don’t want to talk too much, whether it’s on the phone or via email. “I think most people divulge a ton of information about themselves because they’re nervous or wanting to be liked,” says Jason Mountcastle of Los Angeles. “But that doesn’t make it any less annoying. And it leaves you with absolutely nothing to discover when you meet in person. I make a conscious effort to offer only a fraction of what I’m tempted to say about myself early on. It takes practice, but you can do it.”

Tip #4: Keep it positive.
Check your baggage for a while when you meet someone new online. You may think it’s funny to talk about your ex as The Devil, or you may think describing how you burned your last partner’s shirts shows that you’re really and truly over it. But you would be mistaken: Referencing negative experiences (especially often and too early) can trigger people to steer clear. “Being positive is one of the most attractive qualities you can have when dating,” Syrtash notes. “Avoid talking about how many people have burned you or why you stink at dating. If you put yourself down, people will believe you. Don’t give them a reason not to want to go out with you.” Also, too many stories about the losers you’ve dated will just make the person sipping a latte across from you worry, “Am I going to be the punch line of a story like this soon?!”

Try one (or all) of these techniques to enhance your online-dating experience. Love is out there, so make your best impression and make it happen.

North Carolina-based freelancer Margot Carmichael Lester also writes for Go magazine and The Los Angeles Business Journal.
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