Ok ladies, it’s time to get real. You’ve been thinking for a while now that you should try online dating, but you aren’t sure where to start. Never fear! We’ve got your back. Read on and just take it step by step. Soon you’ll be an online dating pro.

TIP 1: PICK A DATING WEBSITE

There are many, many sites to choose from: Match, eHarmony, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, MeetUp, Chemistry, Matchmaker, Lovestruck, Zoosk, and many, many more. It’s a little overwhelming. Which one should you pick? It depends.

Ask yourself these simple questions: What kind of relationship are you after? Do you want to search through lots of guys yourself or have the site match guys to you? Are you picky about how the website looks and how you navigate? How much are you willing to pay for a subscription? Keep all of these things in mind.

To make it a little easier to narrow your search, ask friends what they are using or have used in the past. Or simply review our list of the best dating sites, the only ones that you really need to know about.

If you can’t decide on just one, maybe start profiles on two or three. That way you can compare and see which type suits you best. You can always delete your profile later.

TIP 2: DEVELOP AN AWESOME PROFILE

*Photo: Make the Guys Do a Double Take
Let’s face it, ladies—men are visual. Your profile picture is very important, so take some time to get a good one. Spend some extra time on this. Grab a friend, a camera, and find a spot to take a ton of photos. Make sure the background is not distracting, because the main focus is you! Look at the camera, smile, and keep it simple. Relax and laugh to get a more natural smile. A shoulder/face shot is best.

woman-photographing-another-woman

Remember to use a photo to attract the kind of man you are looking for. Dress nicely, and pose tastefully. Above all, remember to be YOU. Convey who you really are. Pick your top photo (ask a guy friend for his opinion if you can’t decide) and make it your main profile photo. Plan to keep it for a while, because you want the guys to remember you.

*Tag Line: Make it Unique and Memorable
A lot of dating websites ask you to include a quick tag line that will appear by your photo. This is a chance for you to be creative show off your personality. Really own who you are and try to write something that isn’t on a million other profiles. “Love to travel” or “Roses are my favorite” are nice, but could be attached to anyone. Think up more interesting words that describe you and are memorable. Something like, “Fan girl looking for her Han” or “Are you on my bucket list?” would attract more attention and maybe even get a laugh.

*About Me: Be Honest, Be Clean, Be Awesome
When you develop your online profile, be as honest as possible. It does you no good to pretend you are someone you are not, only to attract someone who is falling for the fake you. Also, be clean! Don’t use foul or suggestive language; if you are trying to attract a more long-term relationship, then focus on yourself as a whole person. The right guy will appreciate it. Finally, be awesome! Maybe you are not self confident, but allow yourself to tout your accomplishments and strengths in your profile. If you feel stuck, have a friend help you.

TIP 3: TAKE TIME TO CHAT SMART

*Filter: Keep Your Standards High
You may find that you are overwhelmed by the number of guys “smiling” or “winking” or messaging you. Remember that it’s ok NOT to reply, and it is ok to block people. Chances are they will forget all about sending you those if you never reply. If the guy creeps you out online, it’s for a reason. Keep your standards high and the guys you end up getting to know will be more your style.

*That Guy: Take a Chance
Don’t be afraid to message a guy online you might not ever approach in real life. That is the beauty of online dating! Just send the message and forget about it. If he replies, great; if he doesn’t, move on to someone else. It’s nothing personal.

*Content: Watch What They (and You) Say
As you start chatting with guys online, have fun! Keep it light. Flirt. But also be aware—what a guy talks about is a big clue to who he is and what he is really after. If he gets raunchy, or has an attitude, or seems depressed, move on. You don’t need that in your life. On the flip side, watch what YOU say also. Be real to who you are. Don’t try to talk a certain way to get a certain guy. It won’t help you in the long run.

TIP 4: GO ON SOME FUN DATES

*Safety: Err on the Side of Caution
Only after you’ve had several online and phone chats with a guy, and you feel comfortable, meet up in person! Plan a fun date, but number one be safe. Choose a public place. Arrive separately. Always tell a friend about your plans and call her when it’s over. Google the guy before you go. Have an easy “out” so you can leave if things get weird.

*Environment: Plan for Fun
Going to a movie or something where you don’t get a chance to interact or talk much probably isn’t best for a first date. Plan for fun by going somewhere fun, like mini golf, or a cool coffee shop, or even a walk at a busy park by the lake. The environment will help you both feel more at ease and more likely to feel comfortable and talkative. Who knows? Maybe it will even lead to a second date!

couple-drinking-coffee

Remember that in the world of dating, not every relationship will work out. But that’s how it goes. Sometimes you’ll be compatible, and sometimes you won’t. Maybe you’ll date a few guys before you get anywhere. That’s why online dating can be so convenient—you have a constant stream of possibilities!

Do you have any additional tips that you could add here? Please do let us know in the comments below.

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