Finding a Great Guy Online: An Insider's Guide

And three success stories...

6. First-Date Prep

Once you've chatted with someone long enough to get a vibe from each other, it's time to take things offline. While it can seem like you already know him, don't forget that he's still technically a stranger, and you should take the same precautions you would when going on any other first date. Before you meet a guy face-to-face, you should Google him to see if what he said about his past (what he does for a living, where he went to school) matches up. It's also a good idea to have a brief phone conversation, which can help break the ice and give you a better sense of his personality. As for the actual date, Roberts emphasizes the importance of meeting in a public place like a bar or restaurant and arranging your own transportation so you won't be relying on — or stuck with — anyone.

7. Still No Luck?

If you haven't met a match yet, Anderson points out that you shouldn't give up — just change your profile. "If you don't receive the replies you desire, have you tried a new screen name? New photos? New ad?" Try making your screen name more specific — using an ordinary one puts you at risk to blend in with thousands of other similar names. And try uploading more than just one photo; it'll give other members a better idea of what you look like. One final trick to tip the odds in your favor: "We recommend you post at least two ads simultaneously," says Roberts. One at a major Website with millions of members, and one at a specialty Website where you have a common interest with other members right off the bat. If you're active about doing your part to put yourself out there, chances are you will find what you're looking for.

Just Do It!

If you're still hesitant to try online dating, remember this: The pool of people who date online is growing exponentially. With major dating sites seeing membership in the millions, you instantly have that many more potential dates than what any local bar can offer. Before you've even said hello, you've got a stat sheet in front of you telling you everything you need to know (and then some) about every guy on the site — and in his own words. Plus, you'll be able to meet people you'd never come across in real life. My boyfriend lived 10 blocks away, worked across the street from my office and grew up in the same town as I did, but neither of us knew the other existed until we discovered each other online. So just give it a try! You could be passing a great guy on the street every day and not even know it.

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