10 Tips on How To Find Love On The Internet

When I realized that two of my friends, one in Alberta and another in California, were married to people they met through Internet dating services, I got curious.  I had spent the previous year and a half licking my wounds from an engagement gone wrong and I figured that going on the Internet might be a good way for me to stick my head out from behind my fortress and to get back in the dating game.

The idea seemed like a much easier way to let the world know of my availability than if I was to waltz into a singles bar ready to bat my eyelashes at any decent-looking man without a ring on his finger or a girl on his arm.  Even though I was about to broadcast to the entire world my innermost desires of what I wanted in a man and in a relationship, somehow the anonymity of cyberspace seemed less threatening than getting involved in a high-school-dance style one-on-one staring match across the dance floor.  It has now been more than ten months since my fateful ad first appeared at one Internet site and it has been quite an incredible experience that has made me a few friends, a very cool boyfriend, and taught me or reconfirmed a few lessons:

1) Get Clear About Who You Are

The better you know yourself and what you are about, the more confident and together your ad will sound, and the higher standard of partner you will attract.  Realize that you won't have much of a chance to give a great first impression.  If you are vague about who you are and what incredible traits and values you offer a relationship, you can expect responses that are just as vague.  The clearer you are, the clearer the responses you will get. Where are you at in your life?  What makes you happy? What interests you?  What matters to you now and for the future?  What are you passionate about – meditating, running, Cookie Dough Haagen-Dazs ice cream?

2) Get Clear About What You Want

Before you write your ad, I suggest a quiet candlelight dinner by yourself.  This should be followed by a lovely candlelight time in the bathtub.  Finally, all relaxed and in a somewhat dreamy mood, pick up a journal and let your imagination go wild about the kind of person you would love to be with and the kind of relationship you want to have.  Write all of this down.  Write everything down.  Yes, even the very shallow things that you would never put in an ad or even entrust your very best friend to know. (The candlelight part is the girl version of setting the mood. Men may substitute a can of beer and a Super bowl game in the background.)

3) Get Ready to Tell the Truth and Nothing but the Truth

One of my favorite cartoons is a Herman cartoon with a guy standing in the witness box with a Bible in front of him, saying "Your Honor, if I am supposed to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, what sort of fair trial is this going to be?"  The dating world is notoriously full of games because of the inherent vulnerabilities that we all experience when we get rejected.  It is risky to come out and tell the truth about who you are and what you really want, because "Oh no, what if nobody wants me?"  but… How about if someone does want you just the way you are, and they won't recognize you until you show up as "you"?

4) Write Your Ad With Belief That Someone Is Looking For You As Much As You Are Looking For Them

Get a nice picture of yourself and post it with your ad.  Let the picture show you at your most natural best – fake "Vogue cover" headshots or grainy pictures of you on a bad hair day just won't do you justice.  Go for it and write your ad from the heart. In target marketing, it is said that a successful ad will say what the product is, what the benefits are, who is an ideal customer and who is not.  This approach may raise a few hairs on your back because of it may sound cold but it works the same in the Internet dating world as it does in advertising.  The question is not whether there are compatible people out there dying to meet you.  There are.  Lots of them.  I was astounded by the number of responses I got and by the numbers of people out there in the world looking for someone to love and be loved by.  The question is who you want to meet.

5) Use Your Ad to Filter What You Want and What You Don't Want

Filtering the numbers to get to the ones you will want to meet is an issue.  In my ad, I included a number of things that I expected a number of men to read and quickly click to the next ad.  I said I want to have children (that seems to be a very sure way to get about 95% of men running).  I said I am an intense person and that some love it and some hate it.  In the first line, I asked for someone "smart, attractive, funny, rich".  As I was writing these words and saying that I am what I am asking for, I alternated between feeling deserving and extremely forward and arrogant.  In the end, I left these words in my ad.  I won't ever know if anyone found my requests and filters arrogant or too narrow.  I do know that an overwhelming percentage of replies fit what I asked for.

6) It Is Not a Meat Market but It Is a Numbers Game

You will know the effectiveness of your ad by the responses you get.  You can expect some responses to be off track but if this is consistent, you may want to go back to the drawing board on your ad.  In sales, it is said that sales numbers go something like this:  You can expect to set up a meeting with ten out of every hundred calls, to be asked to submit a proposal by five, and to sell one.  This sounds quite sobering and pessimistic but it helped me with getting a different context about the whole thing.  Funny enough, my results resembled the projected sales numbers.  I got over a hundred responses, emailed back and forth with about twelve, met five face-to-face, and ended up establishing a serious relationship with one.  A lot of work?  Yes, in a sense.  Who said that anything worthwhile was not a lot of work?

7) Be Prepared to Open Your Horizons

The Internet is an incredible vehicle for connecting people who may not ever get the chance to meet in other ways.  I got responses from all over the world – Italy, Australia, Spain, Venezuela, USA, and Canada. 99% of the responses were from men I would have loved to have met, if nothing more than to chat with as a friend and someone with many common traits and interests.  I have befriended an acting coach from Los Angeles, a physician from Wisconsin, a venture capitalist from West Vancouver, a real estate developer from North Carolina, and a hippie turned high tech millionaire from New Mexico.  All of these are high class, great people I would have never met otherwise.

8) Be Conscious Of Your Safety

Don't forget that the Internet is wide open and it is tough to screen out weirdoes completely.  I feared I would get some "Hey baby, let's have sex" responses but those were "only" two out of the hundred or so.  They didn't have access to my email address so "delete" was enough.  Then there was the phone call from a man's daughter who told me that her father (who I met and thought a little too forward so I didn't see him again) had used the Internet to meet and get in bed with a large number of women.  The risk of one or two weirdoes among the replies is a real one so know what to do.  Protect yourself by keeping your personal information private.  Never have your first few meetings anywhere but in a public place.  Always leave a note with someone you trust with the information of the person you are meeting.  Be careful about replying to people with addresses from hotmail, yahoo and such other accounts.  They are more difficult to trace if need be.

9) Give People A Chance

Once you determine by email and telephone chats that you might be interested in someone, give that person a multiple chance for a date even if they are not a supermodel type and if there is no immediate red-hot chemistry oozing between the two of you.  My first date with my (now) boyfriend went badly.  I was clear I didn't want to have more than a friendship.  I was too busy being in love with one of the supermodel types who was negotiating a divorce and not quite ready for a relationship (some patterns take a while to defeat…).  After a number of months of just friendship (yes, it really is the best foundation for a relationship) and a few months of more than a friendship, I am very, very glad he didn't give up on me.

10) Expect Nothing, Hope For Everything, and Have Fun

Meeting people through the personals is definitely somewhat artificial.  You both know that you have an agenda and that the agenda is to get coupled – with someone, but not necessarily each other.  Expectations kill spontaneity.  Lack of expectations allows the foundation for something great to grow and you need to trust that your meeting will naturally grow into whatever it is supposed to grow into - a friendship, a relationship, or… nothing.  Let nature take its course and have fun with the process.  Each meeting brings you closer to what you want.  According to what I learned, I am very confident that many good and available people still exist.  It is good to know that they may only be a few mouse clicks and a few broken-down comfort zones away…

by Pavla


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