By Belinda Espinoza
Over 40 million Americans are online looking for love—at least according to a recent opinion piece by OkCupid dating site cofounder Christian Rudder.
Some of the most popular sites include Match, E-Harmony, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, Tinder, Meetup and Christian Mingle. Some charge and some don’t.
For me, it’s not easy to find eligible bachelors who meet my standards. I divorced in 2011, so I had to pick myself up by the bootstraps and start all over.
As my social status moved into the single life, many people shared that they tried the online dating scene, with Plenty of Fish as their most popular choice. It can be hard to meet the “right” guy online, but experts say one-third of recent marriages in the United States began through Internet dating.
You may want to take your time and explore different sites. Once you find a potential match and plan to meet in person, keep these tips in mind.
Remember you don’t know this person, and having him pick you up at home on a first date could be a huge mistake. He might grow smitten and turn into a stalker, showing up unannounced. To avoid this, don’t give him an address until after the first few dates. Wait to see if there is a connection before giving more personal information.
Always tell a friend or family member the location of the meeting place as a precaution. Also give them the person’s name and number in case of an emergency. It may seem awkward, but it is important for safety reasons. You don’t know the person and someone else should be aware of your destination.
Some people who meet online have the intention of hooking up on the first date. “Online dating has made casual sex easy but relationships hard,” said Rudder, whose opinion piece appeared in the Washington Post.
Your intentions might not be to hookup but you should be prepared just in case it happens. Always use protection to safeguard yourself from pregnancy and STDs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year are found in adolescents aged 15-24 years old. It’s just not safe out there.
If you meet a guy online, there is a chance he is dating several women. Maybe he just wants to date casually and will not mention this in his online profile. Give him a run for his money and let him put in the work. Go on a few dates with him and let him pay. If he really likes you, he will invest some time and money.
Try to choose a location such as a coffee shop or other place for drinks as a first date. The guy may be expected to pay, but sometimes he arrives late or buys his coffee before you arrive. Be prepared in case you need to whip out some cash.
A lot of times men want to test the waters and see what’s out there. A guy may buy you a drink or dinner and make eye contact with you. He might even suggest a future outing. You can feel the chemistry between the two of you and you may think you hit it off. Then the unexpected happens and you never hear from him again.
Don’t let that discourage you from dating other men.