The Internet Dating Crash Course – Lesson 1 – Online Dating in Today’s World

I’m so glad you’ve given yourself this gift!

In the next five days, you’re going to be hearing from me with some solid strategies on how to use online dating sites to finally achieve your dream of finding someone who meets all of your emotional and physical needs.

You may have even tried a dating site before but your results flopped. That’s typical for people who don’t understand how it works – and like anything else that’s new to you – you have to educate yourself to get the best results!

Most people simply fill in their name, maybe stick a picture on the site, and list “walks along the beach” as their favorite activity.

That won’t get you anywhere!

In this lesson, we’re going to cover the Internet dating scene and in the end I’ll give you a couple of little tasks you can tackle now or at the end of this course. (I recommend doing it now so that you can follow along as we go).

Ready to start?

What Is Online Dating?

Online dating isn’t simply having a long distance relationship on the ‘net. Many people do meet that way – maybe in a music or TV fan chat room (not necessarily a dating site) – but it’s also meant as a bridge to connect local individuals to one another if a match within the system is found.

The online dating scene can be a little intimidating.

There are so many people there – some seem to be absolute pros at maneuvering the dating sites and some look like they put up a shell of a profile page and ran away scared.

Some online dating sites connect groups of individuals to communicate with one another for friendships. It’s more than just a one on one romantic connection – many solid friendships are made on Internet dating sites today!

You might find a friend to have an occasional lunch with, or someone worthy of proposal – and everything in between.

The online dating services doesn’t hand pick (by a human reviewer) the perfect person for you. It’s not a match-making service in that regard.

What it is, is a place where you can make connections via the computer. And sometimes that evolves into a phone or in-person meeting if everything goes smoothly initially.

Most online dating sites have some semblance of free service available, but you really can’t participate to any real degree unless you give it a test drive and become an official member.

What information are they going to want to know? Well here’s a sample list – but keep in mind that you often retain control over what you share and what details you choose to give out.

• Name
• Gender
• Age
• Location
• Hobbies
• Salary
• Body type
• Race

Many people leave out certain profile items that they don’t want to disclose – like salary, for example. Or maybe body shape – those are all optional for you to fill in on most sites.

The reason these criteria are listed is so that the computer system can easily match up people who fit your needs and the needs of others.

For example, perhaps your age bracket is strictly listed as hoping to meet someone who is 18-25. If you’ve chosen this, then it wouldn’t present you with anyone over age 25.

Each site allows you to include a profile picture.

Some people stress unnecessarily about this. Online dating has become a spot for people to weed out the individuals whose entire personalities don’t match theirs – and believe it or not, looks are often not the #1 priority!

An online dating site doesn’t just have profiles with an email contact system, either. It includes features members can use like chat rooms, web cam hang outs, and even message boards where you can post questions and help others who are just learning to navigate the process of online dating.

The free services most sites allow are just enough of a tease to entice you to sign up. For example, you can post a profile. But when someone contacts you on the site, you have to sign up as a member to able to read or reply to the message.

Decide ahead of time what type of online dating site you’re seeking. Do you want one that encompasses all levels of connections – from friendships to lifetime partners? Or are you looking for a fast hookup with someone and don’t care if it develops into something more?

The Steps You’ll Take to Use an Official Online Dating Site

I know how awful it is to spend every night sitting there alone, wishing you had someone to talk to. Once you get past the party scene, it isn’t fun to have to go to a bar and hang out in order to meet someone single, either!

Workplaces are good for meeting people – but not always – and you really can’t rely on friends and family to set you up with blind dates time and time again. So that leaves online dating sites as the most reliable method for helping you make the most important connection of your life.

Not All Dating Sites Are Created Equally

Never, ever just join a dating site that you see in some random ad. You want honest recommendations. Sites are creates differently – and some have more stable reputations than others. You want real reviews by members who have had a great experience using the site.

What Does Online Dating Cost?

Initially, you can sign up as a free user of the Internet dating site. It won’t open you up to all of the features, but it’ll get you closer to your goals.

My advice is that you sign up as a free member at several sites and then decide which one seems like the kind of dating site you’d most prefer to use. As a free user, you might be able to browse profiles, but not initiate contact, or it might be more restrictive to seeing profile pictures only.

How Is a Connection Made to Someone?

The dating sites offer a two-way street. You can contact others, or wait to be contacted by someone else! The system will do its part by running your interests and preferences through the system, sending you matches it finds in the process.

Once you get the list, you can go through and whittle down the list to those you feel have potential. Then you might send out an introductory email to see if there’s a mutual interest.

What’s the Best Way to Make a Profile?

Our next lesson is going to really teach you how to make an amazing profile, but for now, you can sign up for a free profile on a few sites and add your picture and basic information.

It’s not advisable to be extremely detailed with your profile information until you’re sure this is someone who you want to know. Feel free to list hobbies and interests, because this is where initial connections are made.

Tasks for You to Accomplish Until Tomorrow’s Lesson:

I want you to take out a piece of paper (or do this on your computer). Write down the following and answer the questions:

1. By joining an online dating site, I hope to _____________________________



2. For communication with others, I want to use the following (check all that apply): ___ Email ___ Site/Online Chat ___ Phone ___ Web Cam Hang Out ___ In person meeting

3. I want to find (check all that applies): ___ friendship ___ companionship ___ long term relationship

Those three questions will help you determine a path for your online dating journey so that you stick to meeting your goals and don’t get sidetracked with something you really don’t want for yourself.

Myth – Online Dating Carries an Embarrassing Stigma

In 1982, Chris Dunn met Pam Jensen on a CompuServe CB Simulator program that linked computer users nationwide in an early version of online dating in a chat room. They hadn’t planned on finding love online, but after a few months of virtual chatting, Chris booked a flight from New York to Chicago where he and Pam met face-to-face. One year later, to the day, they were married (1).

Their newsworthy courtship and wedding were featured on numerous television programs and newspaper articles, including a Chicago Tribune story titled “Cupid and Computers Conquer All.” But not everybody accepted their relationship with an open mind – many people said a relationship based on online dating wouldn’t last, even Chris’s father. This was the one of the first examples of the stigma of online dating, and it was met with a great deal of suspicion.

These days, of course, a couple finding love online is hardly newsworthy. But Pam and Chris were charting new territory. “At the time,” Pam recalls, “computers weren’t as pervasive in our homes and our daily life. To a lot of people, especially my parents’ generation and their friends, online dating seemed very alien, a very suspicious concept to even be communicating like that. There was definitely a stigma with online dating.”

That was about thirty years ago and Chris and Pam are still in love and happily married, and live on the North Side of Chicago. “If it weren’t for the way we met, with online dating, I think we could be any other married couple,” said Chris. “I’ve always adored her. She adores me. It’s very easy to love my wife (2).” That part may be easy, but from the start, Chris and Pam had to put up with a great deal of critique from others who hold onto a stigma about online dating. And so have a lot of other singles currently finding love online, and couples who have sometimes felt compelled to hide the fact that they met through an online dating site.

It’s Called Stigma

During a Sunday school function, a group of newlywed wives were each asked, “How did you two meet?” Going around the circle, each woman took a moment to tell her romantic story. Then it was time for Tracy to speak up: “We met over the Internet.”

A moment of silence hovered over the group. “Online Dating? Really!” the teacher said. “Why would an attractive, outgoing girl like you need to resort to such drastic measures?”

That’s called “stigma” – a socially discrediting means of classifying others as going against the norm. It’s an undesirable stereotype and it conjures up disapproval, disgrace and shame. And the stigma of online dating associated with finding love online is based on uninformed impressions.

This Sunday school teacher is a perfect example of someone perpetuating an uneducated social stigma of online dating and using the Internet for finding love. Online dating has turned a corner over the past several years, and truth be told, this was an exchange that took place more than a decade ago. Today, these misinformed impressions about online dating are few and far between.

So if you’re embarrassed by an out-of-date stigma of online dating, you’ve somehow become stuck in a fleeting notion that died out years ago. Yes, it used to be that finding love online was looked at with suspicion. So was nearly everything about the internet. Most people scoffed at the visionary idea of using our computers to buy shoes, download music, or book a hotel room. So why in the world would you be interested in finding love online?

Of course, that was then, and this is now. And today the stigma of online dating has all but vanished. Practically everyone knows someone who has found the love of their life with online dating. Even well known celebrities talk about using matching sites to find love. We do enough marriage seminars in churches around the country to know that in every congregation there are couples who proudly identify themselves as being matched online. Sure, there are still some uninformed holdouts that perpetuate the stigma of online dating and finding love online, but their numbers are dwindling quickly.

Your Grandmother’s Internet?

If you’re looking for evidence that the stigma of online dating has shaken off its remnants, you need look no farther than your grandparents’ generation. You may think that they rarely even turn on a computer, but you’d be wrong. Are you ready for this? Of course, we all know how popular finding love online is for younger generations, but the fastest growing area for online dating sites is with single seniors (3).

70-year-old Hilda Gottlieb decided to try online dating after her husband passed away in 2004 (4). “I was 64 when my husband died, and I knew I was not going to be alone for the rest of my life,” Gottlieb told the Palm Beach Post.

Gottlieb ignored the stigma of online dating, found the dating profile of then-72-year-old Marv Cohen, and decided to contact him. That email led to an in-person meeting and an eventual romantic relationship. They have been married ever since (5).

The point is that online dating these days is viewed as socially acceptable even among many of the people who were perhaps the most suspicious of finding love online a few short years ago.

Online Dating is now Hyper-Mainstream

“The stigma of online dating has definitely dropped because people are advocating for it, talking with their friends about it, and sharing stories with families,” says Lija Jarvis, director of a large survey study on Internet dating (6). Another study, conducted by the research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, shows how quickly Internet dating — in existence for less than two decades — has revolutionized the way people find and pursue potential mates and approach finding love online.

“It does seem to have displaced all other forms of dating,” says Susan Frohlick, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Manitoba who has studied online dating. “I would say that it’s been in the last five years that it’s become hyper-mainstream (7).”

So if you are embarrassed by a pass prejudice against finding love online, do your best to move beyond it. Swallow your irrational pride, and the outdated stigma you’re holding onto will disappear.

Works Cited

1. Stevens, H. “Chicago Couple blazed the trail for Internet love.” Chicago Tribune. May 18, 2008
2. Stevens, H. “Chicago Couple blazed the trail for Internet love.” Chicago Tribune. May 18, 2008
3. Farley, Meredith. “Online dating becoming more common in seniors.” June 16, 2010
4. Farley, Meredith. “Online dating becoming more common in seniors.” June 16, 2010
5. Farley, Meredith. “Online dating becoming more common in seniors.” June 16, 2010
6. Toy, Mary-Anne. “One in four adults finds mate online.” Sydney Morning Herald. April 17, 2010
7. Ellen Mc Carthy, “marriage-minded do better online than at bars, survey claims.” Washington Post, Sunday, April 25, 2010.

I Finally Signed Up for Online Dating – Now What?

After signing up with an online dating service your next step is to do what you’d normally do.

Well, you finally did it. You went online and created your profile on the free online dating site. Now what? Do you just wait for people to see your fabulous photo and start inviting you to connect? Do you check out hot profile pics and start sending out invitations to connect?

Online dating is fun and easy. It’s a great way to make new friends, connect with old ones as well as find your soul mate. Yet dating online is not a magical device that does everything for you. You have to participate and be involved consistently but at your convenience, of course. Just like when you’re actually dating. Online dating is dating via technology. Real people are really communicating and learning about you and sharing stuff about them. They’re there to connect and to get involved. You have to do the same. So your next step is just to be natural, be real and to do what you’d normally do when you’re dating in real life because online dating is actually dating.

An Internet dating site is another tool that can enhances your connections, friendships and relationships. It’s an amazing tool, that is! Technology and free Internet matching sites and online dating websites allow you to be a part of the kind of community that you want to belong to and to connect with those who have what you’re looking for – same interests, similar dislikes, favorite groups, fave music and similar careers, etc. Dating is much more fun and easier as technology allows for communicating when it’s convenient for you and messages get sent directly via e-mails, postings, message boards, forum, instant messaging, chats, video chats and more. What better way than all of these tactics to communicate and share? And of course, you can add phone calls and text messaging to communicate to those who you’ve connected online. This really enhances your online dating experience.

Now that you understand this, your next step is to make sure that you have a complete profile and post plenty of pics. (See our other blogs about tips on photos that you upload on your dating account.) Make sure you add enough content to tell others about you and what you do, what you’re looking for, etc. Think of it this way, ask yourself what you are looking for when browsing through other people’s profiles? Then do the same with yours. Not enough information on a profile most likely leads you to clicking past that profile and moving on to the next so if you don’t have enough info on yours, people will gloss over you just as well.

When online dating and adding info to your profile and wall, keep it real. You must be honest. Don’t mislead others on your attributes. Remember, if things work out you will be meeting and getting to know these people face to face in the near future. And they will be learning about you. If you stretch the truths they will see them and well, it doesn’t look flattering. Also you would want them to do the same for you. So be honest and keep it real. Keep your online presence as real as who you are in reality.

Just like meeting in person and going on a date in reality, remember that online dating is very similar to dating. You’ve got someone on the other end who you’re talking to and connecting with. Communicate effectively and once again, be honest and be you. Keep it real.

Pace yourself in the way that is comfortable for both parties just like dating face-to-face because if all things go well, you’ll be meeting them in person soon. The great thing about dating online is that you get to learn about the other person (or people) internally instead of externally first. You get to learn about how they think and all the great things that they love, hate, know, do and not just focusing on their external looks (although that’s very important too, if that’s a top priority to you.)

Now if you want to connect with people who you think are really hot and just want to hook up, you can let them know that also. Online dating is great as you can date how you wish. Just let the others know what you’re there for and what you want. That’s the great thing about it. A dating website allows you and others to find exactly what you’re looking for.

So what to do after signing up for a free online dating account? Just do what you’d normally do. Be you and keep it real.