Online dating is now a widely accepted and even a preferred method of meeting singles. Once stigmatized as a “last ditch” approach to meeting people, it is now more popular than ever before… And growing!

There is no user manual for getting started, however, and some are confounded by this new form of matchmaking. But have no fear! I have compiled a beginner’s guide to online dating to help you get started.

Choose the Right Service

Finding the right online dating service is vital to meeting matches that are relevant to you. There is a dating website to fill every niche, so it is important to decide exactly what you are looking for and the kind of people you expect to meet.

Your two main options when it comes to these services are general or niche. General dating websites cater to everyone but are mainly used by those without specific needs. Niche dating sites are designed for those who are looking for something specific, such as a partner of a specific religious sect or sexuality.

If your needs can’t be met by general dating services, I recommend finding something to suit your niche. If, however, you can get by with a match from the general population a general dating website is preferable because they tend to attract the most people, giving you a numbers advantage.

That said, there is nothing preventing you from signing up for multiple services. Just keep in mind that this option may be more costly and time-consuming.

Create Your Profile

Once you decide on the service(s) you want to use, the signup process will involve creating a user profile. This should not be taken lightly because your user profile is the only way that people on any given site will get to know you.

The most important profile element is the photo. For better or for worse, most people will either pass or pursue based on the main picture in your profile alone. That is why it is crucial that you use the right one. Although there are many things to consider, here are some surefire tips for success:

  • Smile! A simple smile can increase your perceived attractiveness.
  • Include your body. Posting a full portrait gives off an air of confidence because you have nothing to hide.
  • Take some high-quality shots. Generally speaking, the higher quality the photo, the better you will look.
  • No duck face. Enough said!

If you need help getting the perfect shot for your online profile, feel free to

contact me –your favorite NYC Wingwoman for Profile Photography rates! 

Next, it’s important to add as many details to your profile without giving too much away. This is a balance that only you can determine, but it’s a good idea to speak in a frank, chipper, and optimistic tone.

Ultimately, you should be yourself. Your dating profile is an image of who you are and the best impression you can make is a true one.

Start Browsing

When you complete your profile you can begin browsing the other user profiles. It may seem overwhelming at first, but in time you will learn how to filter out the relevant matches from the irrelevant ones and even work out a system that you abide by in order to optimize your time on the site.

You will probably also get messages from people interested in you. That’s the beauty of the system; you’re ‘out there’ even when you’re offline and doing other things.

Eventually, you will find someone who piques your interest and that’s where things become interesting. At that point, the process is very similar to real life dating. You have to break the ice initially and then strike up a conversation to determine how well you connect. If you think you’ve found a match, you might be ready to…

Make a Date!

Planning a date should feel natural for both parties. After all, you and your match have been chatting it up and likely know enough about one another to plan the perfect meetup.

At this point, things are pretty much as you may have experienced in your dating life up until now. If you like your date, you can go out again; if not, you can pursue other people online. Eventually, you will find someone with whom you click.

If you want to learn more about this topic I recommend checking out as resident expert Pauline Plott gives away great tips and tricks for online dating!