Beginners Guide to Online Dating

So perhaps you took a look at our ‘Does Online Dating Really Work’ article and have decided that you are willing to give it a try – now what? A willingness to put yourself out there is only half the battle. You also need to navigate the turbulent world of which site to choose, profile tips and how to survive the messaging chats.

two teenager girls laughing

For those reasons precisely, this guide will help point you in the right direction and steer you clear of all those online dating pot-holes.

The Sites

The first step when embarking on this online dating adventure is to work out which sites to sign up to. Here are some of the top ones to consider:

This is great for those new to online dating as you are very much in control of who talk to and with over a million subscribers, there are lots of people to match with.

Read review.

Elite Singles

The right option for serious dating with the city elite. At Elite Singles you’ll find a world of sophisticated, well educated members.

Read Elite Singles review.


One of the most established sites around, they have a detailed Relationship Questionnaire to ensure that they are setting up people who are compatible.

Read eHarmony review.


This site is not only free but it has a special POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor test to help match suitable partners. Not as good as paid dating, but a decent option for those who want to go cheap.


Great for those who hate awkward first dates, you match with people who want to do similar, exciting first date activities.

The Profile

This is the first – and usually only – thing that your potential matches see which means that it’s the key to securing that date. Therefore, there are some important profile rules you need to abide by to help up your chances:


Make sure these are clear and have a variety e.g. don’t just do all close ups or friend shots. The good way to judge it is to have one of each: a clear photo of just you, a full body shot, a shot with friends, some activity/fun images.

Be honest

Don’t try and be somebody you are not to just win over a match. Regardless of whether or not it works, you will soon learn that keeping up pretences are a lot harder than being liked for yourself by the right person!

The text

Don’t write too much as online dating is primarily used for convenience so people really don’t want to waste time reading paragraphs. Just have a few lines about yourself, what you’re looking for and some fun (not crude) jokes also go down well.

It’s also a good idea to have a friend look over your profile as they can look at it objectively and help with some useful suggestions on how to improve.

Also read: Does Online Dating Work?

The Matching

There’s not a lot to say about this rather straight forward stage and you may not even have a great deal of input. If you are responsible for the matches, try to be open and fully read over the profile before you make any snap decisions.

The Conversation

So you’ve matched – great! Now is for the fun (and sometimes dreaded) part…

  • Don’t be afraid to start the conversation – someone has to. They have matched with you so they clearly like what they see, you have nothing to lose by sending the first message.
  • People worry about being boring with their opening message but too off-the-wall can be a little risky. Do what feels more comfortable for you – if they have something interesting in their picture, comment on that!
  • Don’t leave ages to reply – it’s never going to go anywhere if they take days to respond and then it’s a few more days before you get back to them. If you’re interested, reply. If not, it’s a sign that maybe there’s no spark there.
  • Don’t let it fizzle before you mention the first date – people are so scared to ask about going for a drink but that’s why you’re on this site to begin with. Be brave and ask the question – if they say thanks but no thanks you have saved yourself a great deal of time!

Things to Remember

  • Always meet in a public place as it’s better to be safe and clued in on these first dates
  • It’s okay if it takes time to take off, don’t feel pressured or discouraged!
  • At the same time, online dating isn’t for everyone. Try it out and see how it goes but if you’re not enjoying yourself, don’t force anything

Ultimately, online dating is a great thing to try out, especially if you are bored with your dating life at present! Just remember to keep in mind these helpful tips and you never know who you might meet.

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