05/07/2013 12:25 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2013

The Online Dating Decoder

Divorce is not fun. Divorce can, at least for a while, taint your view of the opposite sex. Divorce can erode some elements of your self-esteem. So, when you are ready to begin dating again, there is a mixture of feelings. The idea of it can be exciting and fun and scary and overwhelming. Are there any good ones left? Will people still be attracted to me? What will I say? What will I wear? How will I know who I should date?

I am here to help with that last question. Because online dating is often the easiest way to wade into the dating pool, it is often the first place to get your feet wet. At your very fingertips, you have the ability to search and weed out potential dates without having to leave your house or take any risks. You enter your search criteria on the website and read the selected profiles with trepidation and skepticism, but also hope that you could actually meet a nice person.

I am a person who tends to believe what people say until given a reason I shouldn't. I tend to be optimistic and hopeful while still being a realist. I am still that way, and I still believe most people out there are decent people who just want to find someone. Yet in my years of online dating, I discovered an oddly standard code in many profiles and initial emails. Key phrases seem to have arisen that can give you a clue as to a potential date's intentions. When someone writes a profile, it is to attract someone, but also to let someone know what attributes are important. The same goes to emails or conversations in the beginning stages of talking to someone. Here are some clues to help you discern what people are really saying:

1. Statement: I want someone active.
Definition: No fatties need apply.

2. Statement: I want an 'independent' woman.
Definition: I don't want to support you.

3. Statement: Technically (using this word ever in a profile or email or any form of communication whatsoever).
Definition: What follows is a lie.

4. Statement: I don't drink.
Definition: I have a drinking problem.

5. Statement: I drink daily.
Definition: I have a drinking problem.

6. Statement: It's complicated.
Definition: I am too weak to make a decision and I want my cake and eat it too.

7. Statement: Well, I am leaving you a voicemail, so either you are busy or avoiding my calls.
Definition: You should feel guilty for not answering the phone whether you have done something wrong or not.

8. Statement: Your actions speak that you are not as in to me as I am to you. Definition: I am needy. Run. You will probably never be able to fill this kind of need.

9. Statement: I just don't think I am good enough for you (or, in the reverse, you are too good for me).
Definition: I need you to shower me with reassurance. This is designed to elicit a speech from you touting the enormous...and it better be enormous...list of stellar attributes that you love about him/her. And then you must spend time convincing that it is, in fact, true. Run. You will be making lists until the end of time.

10. Statement: I think you like so-and-so better than me.
Definition: I am needy. The best response to this is a simple "yes." Less work than running and definitely less work than the convincing game this manipulator is trying to make you play.

11. Statement: You never respond to my texts, I guess you aren't thinking about me during your day.
Definition: I am needy. Run like hell. You will never convince this person that you might actually be BUSY even though you might be busy and thinking of him/her and just can't stop to say so. You know, working, taking care of kids. This is the case of the self-absorbed.

Many of the above statements are designed to manipulate a response. When you are looking at a profile or in the very early stages of getting to know someone, always make sure to notice if this is happening. This is unacceptable and recognizing it is an easy way to avoid wasting time. Look for someone who is straightforward, positive and honest. If someone wants to manipulate a response from you, there isn't concern for sincerity, but for fulfilling expectation whether sincere or not. This should be a deal breaker. And the second time around, if you learn nothing else, you should learn that deal breakers should actually break the deal.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.