In the past, when seeking someone to date (and perhaps eventually marry), you had four options.
You could just wait, hoping that your daily activities will serendipitously introduce you to someone. This approach appears to be effective only in that it is the one method that everyone utilizes. In this sense, it is always "on." Casting your romantic fate to the wind typically only yields results when significant social gatherings, such as conferences and weddings, lie in your near future.
You could beg your friends and acquaintances to introduce you to someone. The problem is, while you may ask: "Do you know anyone who is right for me to date?" most friends, family, and colleagues hear: "Do you know anyone who is of the appropriate sex and single?" If you are even remotely picky or diligent, you will likely cycle through all of your close network's single friends in a month or so (possibly breeding no small amount of indignation and resentment in the process).
You could also lurk around bars and clubs, but the ineffectiveness of this method has become a cliche in itself. Moreover, this method is a time sink of mammoth proportions, as there are no built-in filtering mechanisms to ensure that those you meet will have anything in common.
Finally, you could join an activity group or start a new hobby. This method seems like a great idea until you actually try it and realize that, even though the best-attended group activities, you are not likely to find more than eight potential partners with acceptable ages and levels of attractiveness. When you consider the time investment needed to even add these eight random individuals to your dating pool along with the probability that one of them will both be interested in you and available, this alternative becomes far less appealing.
Fortunately we don't live in the past. We have the Internet, a vast romantic meat market, at our convenient disposal. If you are dead set on finding someone to date or marry, and if you take the task seriously you should be using dating websites.
In addition to saving your time (not to mention the time of other singles) through allowing you to filter for those of an appropriate age, gender, and level of attractiveness, you can also filter for those with compatible hobbies, professional backgrounds, personality traits, and relationship philosophies (within the San Francisco Bay Area, that last filter is more useful than you might expect if you are only interested old-fashioned monogamous relationships). You are no longer relegated to the handful of people within your extended social network, but can sort through literally hundreds of people a week to find the perfect partner.
While looking for a partner online can be a recreational endeavor, there is a point at which finding a partner (especially if you are looking for a long-term partner) is no longer something you should leave to chance. What do you do when that time comes? First, determine exactly what you are looking for.
Those who fail in online dating typically fail due to lack of dedication, emotional fragility, and neglect to clearly define what they want in a partner. Due to the wide array of choices available to you when utilizing online dating sites, you need to be able to list specific characteristics that either must, or must not, be present in a viable candidate.
With must-haves and deal breaking details in mind, sign up for a couple of dating sites. Each site will have its own feel and attract a certain kind of user. For example, eHarmony is known for attracting older conservative Christians. OKCupid is famous for its very active user base of nerdy and net-savvy young professionals. Match.com is typically seen as a place to go if you are serious about finding a husband or wife and perhaps a bit sheepish about the idea of online dating.
You will need to dedicate a significant amount of time (five hours) to setting up an account and sending out your initial wave of messages. During your initial set up, take some time to browse through profiles of your competition so you get an idea of how an account should look and how you might differentiate yourself. When uploading photos of yourself, keep in mind that a seasoned dating site user will be looking for signs that you have tried to conceal something about yourself (it happens), so be certain not to have all the photos taken from the same angle, underwater, from far away, etc. Also, be careful not to post a bunch of photos of you posing in a very sexualized manner. While this tactic might boost the total number of messages you receive, you will not likely get messages from the types of people with whom you would like to settle down. A good tool for working with your photos is MyBestFace by OKCupid. It allows you to upload a portfolio of potential profile photos on which other people vote, then receive data on which photos appeal (or do not appeal) to certain demographics.
After the account is set up, start sending out messages. People often complain about receiving copied and pasted messages through dating sites and argue you should never use this form of message. This complaint is completely unrealistic. Custom-crafted messages are only likely to boost your response rate by around 5 o. Given how long it takes to craft an original message and the number of people one will typically have to contact through an online dating site, it only makes sense to send unique messages to those whose profiles really catch your attention. For most messages, it works perfectly well for 70 percent to be copied and pasted and 30% unique to the profile. These messages should be well-crafted, genuine (even copy and pasted messages can be authentic), and succinct. Make it clear that you are interested in physical world dating, not purely online dating by asking them about meeting up in the first message.
Many people post deceptive photos on their dating profiles. Do not let this reality dissuade you from using online dating site; it is no more malicious than using makeup. Just add due diligence into your filtering process, and be honest in the manner in which you represent yourself to save others' time (the truth about how you look and what you do will eventually come out; you might as well be honest from the get-go).
To avoid being misled before investing in an in-person meeting, ask to become friends with a potential partner on Facebook. By doing so, you are likely to find images that can give you a far better idea of what he or she actually looks like, as Facebook photos in which a subject is merely tagged are far more likely to be current and taken for purposes other than making the subject look good. Facebook profiles will also help you determine whether someone is actually single (someone cheating on an existing partner is not as likely to give you access to his or her Facebook profile), plus they can be used to find individuals' LinkedIn profiles and other online accounts that provide useful information on their tastes and professional backgrounds.
As soon as you agree to go on an in-person date with someone, put his or her basic information in a document and, as you spend more time together, add relevant personal details, notes about dates, and insights from interesting conversations you have had. If you are taking dating seriously, it is likely you will be going on between three and ten dates a week, which can make it difficult to remember everything about everyone. Being able to brush up on a potential partner before a second or third date (while you are still meeting other people) can save you a great deal of trouble and embarrassment.
Rinse and repeat the messaging, vetting, and in-person dating process until you find someone you want to date exclusively. Finding a long-term partner is not an easy process and should be treated like a part time job. It requires diligence, time, social discomfort, research, and drudgery. I went through hundreds of people before meeting my fiancée (and she went through dozens before meeting me using an optimized dating system of her own). She lived far enough away from me that our second date required four hours of driving on my part. Despite the hassle, all the work is worth it when you meet someone who is a far better fit than someone you'd meet through circumstance alone.
Art by Unsound M