1) Be Open-Minded. Who knows -- one night you could be reaching for another sip of wine wondering when the person across from you will stop talking (and with every passing sip you're coming closer and closer to saying that to his face), and the next you could be walking hand-in-hand through Central Park with someone who understands why you prefer 1950s cinema over anything current. (Seriously -- why does no one else get it?!?!) You will meet all kinds of characters and find yourself in unexpected scenarios. In order to get the most out of your experience, you have go into it willing to take the good with the bad. (And the weird. The very weird.)
2) Own it. A lot of profiles start off with, "Can't believe I'm actually making one of these, LOL, but here goes..." You might think you're being funny, but this kind of statement actually screams insecure and/or pretentious. There is still a stigma attached to online dating -- and it's really unfortunate. Release your shame and realize that it's incredibly brave to put yourself out there. Remember that anyone who reads your profile is in the same boat, so they're not judging you for being there. (They are, however, judging the $#@! out of your profile, but it's okay -- see #8.)
3) Choose pictures wisely. Sure, you want to look physically attractive. But if the only quality you're showing off is your rock hard abs, people will get the impression that your body is all you have to offer. By the same token, if you choose a super hot picture of you from two years and 30 pounds ago, your date will be less than thrilled when you meet in person. Your best bet? Choose photos that show off your personality -- photos where your smile is genuine or where you're doing something you love. You don't have to look perfect to get attention -- and, really, what is perfect, anyway? -- you just have to look like the best (and most genuine) version of YOU.
4) Show, don't tell, your personality. Instead of saying, "I have a good sense of humor," sprinkle some witty lines throughout your profile. Relax, be yourself, and don't think you have to be a carbon copy of all the competition you (may or may not have) checked out.
5) Reveal enough, but not too much. You have to give people something to go on when they draft up a message, and yet, there's really no need to list every movie you've ever seen or, I don't know, every single thing you usually do on a daily basis. (I'll find out about that snoring habit when I find out about it, okay!?) Include enough information for someone to know if you have some common interests, but leave a little to be desired for when you go on a date.
6) Take a risk -- reach out first. Message that brunette whose profile you've already viewed seven (okay, more like 11) times today. Don't wait for people to come to you -- be proactive! We've all heard the mantra "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," and when it comes to online dating, it holds a lot of truth
7) Don't wait too long to meet in person. One episode of MTV's Catfish is all it takes to understand this one...
8) Learn how to handle rejection. Sometimes people just stop responding to you. It's so common that it's almost become a social norm in the digital age. Not everyone is going to like you, and even though it's disrespectful to drop off the face of the earth like that, it's going to happen. Don't dwell. Accept it, learn from it, and move on.
9) Be kind when doing the rejecting. In no way are you obligated to answer every message you receive, but if you're no longer interested in someone you've been actively talking to, have the decency to give them a heads up. We've become so accustomed to communicating from behind a screen that we sometimes forget there are actual people with feelings behind those usernames. A simple, "You seem really great but I met someone else," is way more mature than abrupt silence.
10) Be patient. Dating, whether online or otherwise, involves weeding through a bunch of boring, strange, or even awful people before you find what you're looking for. Don't expect immediate results, and try not to get too discouraged.
11) Have fun. After all, that's what dating is really all about, right? The process is frustrating at times, but it's all about perspective. Online dating can be a learning experience, an exciting adventure, or -- if you're really fortunate -- just a more modern way to meet your missing puzzle piece.
For those who've tried it, what tips do you recommend?