Online Dating Tips

You're single and you're available, but you're way too busy to spend time looking for "The One." Seriously, you're too busy? Contrary to popular belief, he won't magically show up at your office, or on your couch when you're watching the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Vancouver (though that would be nice and convenient).

You need to be active and get out there. Of course, these days, out there can mean "virtually" out there in the online dating sense. But even if you take the plunge into that world, there are so many different dating sites with so many too-good-to-be-true dating profiles -- how can you know where to find "The One"? Where are the ready-to-settle-down, baggage-free, attractive and, above all, normal types? Here are seven tips to help make sure you're getting what you want from online dating.

Commit to it
Like relationships, for things to work out, you need to be committed. If you're going to date online, you need to be personally invested. Don't let one bad date knock you down and don't give up on it when no one seems to be worth your time. The beauty of online dating is that every week--in some cases, every day and every hour--new opportunities arise.

Let go of your hang-ups about online dating
When you plague yourself with thoughts of what others will think if they happen to stumble across your profile, then you will always be resistant and wary and will never fully be open about who you are and what you're looking for. This is a bit of a subset of the "Commit to it" point: Invest yourself whole-heartedly.

Do the research
It's important to find a site that suits your needs and where you mingle with like-minded people. If you're looking for something serious out of online dating, your best resort is using a dating site that costs money. In general, users of these kinds of sites are willing to make other financial investments--metaphorically, they are willing to invest in themselves, and take themselves seriously. Sound like someone you know?

Don't play games
Maybe the reason you aren't getting what you want online is because you're waiting too long to get back to people, or perhaps are making yourself inaccessible in some other way. Make sure your profile is authentic, and if someone reaches out to you (and you like the outreach), respond in a timely fashion. Most importantly, don't wait for someone to message you first. You see someone you want: Go for it. All is fair--and equal--in online dating.

Take it seriously
Look, anyone can sign up for a dating site and create a profile. It takes consistent effort to search for a partner (isn't that why you signed up in the first place?). Every hour new potential partners are joining these sites, so take a few minutes daily to scope out the latest prospects.

If you talk the talk, walk the walk
Hate to break it to you, pretty girl, but when you involve yourself in the world of online dating, you sorta, kinda, pretty much have to actually go on dates. Sending messages and get-to-know-you emails back and forth will not land you a boyfriend or husband. Just like Prince Charming won't appear at your house, he also won't be in your life if you hide behind the safety of the net. Go out on dates and flirt with the idea of using these dates as an opportunity to see if there's chemistry behind all that carefully-constructed online banter.

Looks matter
I might get in trouble for saying this but, if he's not your type and if you're not physically attracted to him, don't bother going on a date just "to see" if there's something more. Attraction is very important, and if you can't see yourself with him, it isn't fair to waste his time. Or yours.

Jen Kirsch is a relationship expert, columnist and blogger. For quick tips and tricks, follow her on Twitter @jen_kirsch. Read her posts every Tuesday on