You may remember a while back, I interviewed my friend D. who had jumped into online dating. Using both paid and unpaid services, she was getting dates and meeting people. I’ve been watching from the sidelines, admiring her courage but myself a little hesitant.

It could be that spring is in the air but I thought I’d finally give online dating yet another shot.

I wrote my online profile on PlentyOfFish, uploaded a photo, and waited. (As a side note, turn off the photo rating option on your profile if your self-esteem is at all shaky. People apparently expect a lot these days!)

The initial response was lukewarm. I got two e-mails, one asking if I design websites (aww, using me already?) and one simply saying “yer cute” and that’s it. Not quite what I was hoping for.

I looked at my profile again a week or so later with a more critical eye and realized that while I sounded really nice, I also sounded kind of boring. I tapped into my slightly wacky side and rewrote. I then got 7 responses in 24 hours. Plenty of fish indeed!

A few dates into my great social experiment, I met a nice young man that I am now dating. For the moment we’ll call him John, since that is his name and he’s ok with me using it.

A few words of caution from my most recent stint in the trenches:

1) There are some weird people out there, on free and paid services. While most correspondence has been nice (if gramatically incorrect), I got an email that would make most men apologize for their entire gender about two weeks ago. (It was quite graphic and inappropriate.) Just hit “block” because just like in real life, you don’t have to correspond to anyone you don’t want to.

2) You shouldn’t have to convince anyone to be with you. No chemistry? It’s fine. I feel like I have a lot to offer and not a lot of time or energy to chase people who don’t agree. Keep putting yourself out there and eventually you’ll get chemistry on both ends.

3) Don’t be too nice. Ok this sounds counterintuitive but everyone out there is “a nice girl looking for a great guy who likes to be outdoors and cuddle while watching movies” or “a great guy who’s tired of girls who play games” (plus that last one makes it sound like you have issues with the ladyfolk i.e. is a big red flag to me).

Under interests, I put such things as “avocados”, “social media”, and “dogs with short legs”. Yes, it’s great to be nice but if you are selling yourself on these sites, you need to stand out from the crowd. Just like your high school English teacher taught you, show don’t tell. “On the weekends, you’ll catch me biking around Acadia National Park because I do love those hills!” says a lot more to me then “I like biking.” That said, don’t go on and on. A couple paragraphs should get people interested; let them ask you the follow up questions.

4) Just try it. Did you know one out of every eight married couples met online? Trust me, the stigma against this is almost completely gone. There are so many people on these sites, why shouldn’t you be one of them?

Oh and if you have some good online dating stories that went bad, at least you can contribute them to this fine website that my friend Mel and I are trying to start. One way or the other, you’ll get something out of online dating!

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