Conducting a date search can seem a little overwhelming if you're new to online dating. With thousands of profiles to sort through, how will you find the right match for you?
Elements of the Search
The first thing to do when conducting a date search online is to decide what you're looking for. Almost every online dating service has a search function, which lets you specify intellectual things like political orientation and education, spiritual issues like religion, and even more superficial elements like height and hair color. Some sites will essentially do the searching for you, by matching you to others according to interests, likes, and dislikes.If you narrow your search down too much, though, you won't get many responses. Looking for a 6'1" man with black hair and blue eyes, age 30-35, who's Catholic, loves dogs, eats vegetarian, makes over $100,000 a year, has never been married, wants kids, likes to go camping and lives within 10 miles of you? Good luck. You'll be doing well if you find two or three profiles that match - and amazingly well if any of them are interested in you.
Setting Your Standards
The best way to find a good online match - and, in fact, to find a match in any kind of dating - is to decide what's non-negotiable, and then be open to possibilities concerning everything else.
What are the things you really can't live without? Maybe you're an athlete and being with a couch potato would make you crazy. Or perhaps you've spent years working on a PhD, and you need a partner who can match your wits. Some people consider smoking, drinking, or drug use to be a deal breaker.
Sit down in a quiet place and think about what you really need. Make a list of your non-negotiables. Try to be honest with yourself, but not too picky. Does he have to be six feet tall? Even if you love blue eyes, would it be ok if hers were brown? Many people are surprised, when they finally fall in love, to find that the person doesn't look at all like what they envisioned, has a job they never considered, or has interests that are different from their own. Once you've figured out your absolute dealbreakers, use only those items in conducting a date search.
Widening Your Search
If your search isn't giving you many results, there are a few possible reasons. The most obvious is that your requirements are too narrow. Look again at your list. Are you being too rigid?
If your non-negotiables list isn't very long, check your geographic settings. Most dating sites will let you specify a region, and some will let you narrow it down to a set number of miles from your home. Make sure your search region isn't too small; set it to the farthest distance you're willing to drive. If you live in a rural area or a small town, there may not be many site members nearby. You may need to expand your search to the nearest big city.
Narrowing Your Search
For some people, an initial search will bring up hundreds or even thousands of profiles. If you enjoy looking at profiles, you'll spend several enjoyable evenings trolling through the results. But if you want a quicker system, you'll need to narrow your search.
First, check your list of dealbreakers again. Did you leave anything out? Did you forget to include religious background, or do you need to specify whether you're looking for a one-night stand, a relationship, or marriage? Check your geographic area, too, to make sure you're not getting profiles of people who live hundreds of miles away.
If you still have an abundance of results, you can have some fun with them. Now's your chance to search for just men or women of a certain height… or only people with a job like yours… or just people with green eyes. Get as specific at you want, and then broaden your search again as needed.
Making the Connection After Conducting a Date Search
Once you've finished conducting a date search, it's time to start contacting potential dates. What you write to them will depend on what kind of site you're using, and what your goals are. On sex-oriented sites, a straightforward proposition may be all you need. But on sites dedicated to more mainstream dating, it's a good idea to write a friendly note to each person you'd like to meet. Tell them what you liked about their profile, so they know you're not just writing to every man or woman out there. Keep it short and sweet; long notes have a way of looking desperate.
If you aren't getting any answers, don't despair. Many people who have dating site profiles don't actually pay to subscribe to the site, which usually means that they can't read or respond to emails. Also, keep in mind that people with great profiles probably get a lot of emails. Make sure you're being realistic about whom you contact: is there a reason why this person would be interested in you?
Do a new search at least once a month, since new people do join all the time. And don't give up! Thousands of people have met their soulmates online. It can happen to you, too.