In this digital age, everyone knows someone who met online. No longer it is taboo to say you met on the Internet. Today's Internet dating sites are the 21st century's answer to a smoky bar of the 90's. Now you can look for love without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. The best part of the experience is the one of the main characteristics of online dating - getting to know the fundamentals about a person before you ever meet.
Being able to view photos, marital status, likes and dislikes and personality traits are the main characteristics that attract many people to Internet dating. Gone are the days of being set up on a blind date, only to find you have nothing to discuss at the dinner. Most dating sites allow you to search criteria to narrow your results, which optimizes your chances of meeting a great match.
The downside of these search tools is that you may narrow your results down so much, you have no more matches. It's a great thing to know what you are looking for in a mate, but all too often people limit themselves with these search criteria. Say, for example, you prefer a woman under 5'4" tall. If you select that criteria, you may be ruling out a wonderful woman who is only 5'5" tall. Does one inch make a big difference when it comes to possibly finding the love of your life? Probably not. So remember that while it's good to know what you're looking for, it's also important to be a little flexible.
You've joined a dating site and you've found a few matches, what's the next step? Another one of the characteristics of online dating is the anonymous platform it provides to introduce yourself to someone. Many dating sites offer a way to communicate with your matches, without revealing personal information or email addresses. There are many horror stories about people who met someone online only to find out that person was not who they expected him or her to be. With this anonymous initial communication, you don't have to risk giving personal details to someone you may find less than desirable.
Once you've started communicating with your match, you have two options. You can continue to communicate online or you can move outside the virtual realm. Many people feel that written communication hinders the ability to get to know someone. However, be aware that as soon as you meet, you are giving up the anonymity and security provided by the online dating service. You may choose to communicate for weeks or months before setting up a meeting in person. This may help you to get to know each other on a deeper level, which is another one of the beneficial characteristics of online dating. Whatever you choose to do, remember to be safe, meet in a public place and don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
While the promise of true love, the ability to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time and the security of anonymity are the main characteristics that attract people to online dating, you must always be aware that some people are not there for the same reasons. Just as in a bar, there will always be someone who is not who they appear to be. Should you find yourself on a date with someone who is nothing like the match you saw online, just remember that there might be more matches waiting for you when you get home. Perhaps one of the most exciting characteristics of online dating is the seemingly unending supply of new people to meet and possibly fall in love with.