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Online dating no longer has a stigma attached to it, and is socially accepted as a way to find a mate. No matter what you're looking for, be it casual dating or a long-term relationship, a dating service is likely available that will meet your needs. Once you find the perfect dating site for you, follow these tips for online dating success.
1. Fill out your profile and answer any applicable essay questions.

The whole point of dating online is to meet new people- that can't happen unless you actually tell potential mates about yourself! The "I don't like talking about myself" and "I don't like writing" excuses do not work- if that's the case, online dating is not for you. Your profile serves as your first impression, and your first introduction so make it a good one.

2. Add at least one appropriate, recent photo to your profile.

Just as in the offline world, physical attraction often comes first when meeting someone online. It's proven that dating profiles with photos get more attention and it makes sense- potential mates will want to know what you look like. It's not a matter of people being shallow, it's just human nature. The more photos you add the better, just avoid the following: nude and scantily clad pictures, unless you're on an adult dating site; old photos- no one cares what you looked like 40 pounds ago; photos with other people in them, especially children and exes.

3. Be honest.

This seems simple, but dishonesty is the biggest pitfall of any kind of dating, especially online. If you have children, let it be known. Divorced? Just say so. Don't say you have an "average" build if you weigh 98 pounds. Likewise, you do not automatically have an "athletic" build just because you have a gym membership or like to play golf on the weekend. The truth usually comes out sooner or later, so just be your true self. If someone doesn't like the real you, they aren't someone you should be dating anyway.

4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use common sense.

Sometimes, people invent online personalities to deceive others, but you can often see right through the lies if you just pay attention: the guy who claims he's a doctor, but can't spell or use a comma to save his life, as evidenced by his profile; the beautiful woman that says she is single, but won't give you her home phone number. These are warning signs, don't ignore them. That "doctor" probably never set foot in med school, and that beautiful woman probably isn't as single as she's letting on. No one is perfect, so if your new online love interest is trying to come off as is they are, take a step back and evaluate just whether all they're telling you adds up.

5. Be safe.

No, you don't have to run credit and background checks on everyone you meet online, but you should use basic safety measures. Do not give out your home address to everyone who randomly asks; if you go on a date with someone you've met online, be sure you tell a friend about it and ask them to check in on you; never give credit card information or send money to someone you've just met online. It is necessary to mention these things because there are people who try to scam others through online dating sites. Most people who join dating sites are genuinely interested in meeting someone, but you need to be aware that there are a few bad apples out there.

If you follow these tips, keep a positive outlook, and maintain realistic expectations, online dating can be fun, hassle-free, and perhaps you will end up connecting with someone special.

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