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10 tips for online dating

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5. Be honest

It's tempting to stretch the truth when writing your profile or use a photo from ten years ago. But the advice is not to do it, as your date may be disappointed when you meet in person.

Denise Knowles from relationship service Relate says: "With more and more people meeting via the internet, the big thing is to be honest from the start as you will get found out."

Jenni from eHarmony adds: "Just as your online dating profile should accurately represent who you really are, your dating encounters should be equally as authentic.

"Don't pretend to be something or someone that you're not in an effort to impress a potential partner. Be genuine, and let your character and charm speak for themselves."

6. Beware of exaggeration

Even if you are honest about yourself, expect a degree of exaggeration from potential partners. They are trying to sell themselves to you so may over egg their attributes and achievements.

They are bound to look better in their profile photo. No-one is going to post a picture of them at their worst. Beware phrases like 'carrying a few extra pounds' or 'cuddly'.

Read between the lines in profiles. Could 'bubbly' be annoying? Is their idea of 'great personality' the same as yours? Does 'manly' mean very hairy? What might 'unconventional' mean? Also, some people may say they are single when they are actually married.

7. Narrow your focus

Online dating can be a real time-saver if you know exactly what you want.

For example, if you definitely don't want a partner with children, remove that option straight off. Likewise, if it's important that a date lives in your area you can weed the rest out.

DJ Nic last used a dating site seven years ago and is still with the same woman. "They are a great way to stop all the messing about as you can ask direct questions to the other person to see if you match, rather than wasting time going on unfruitful dates."

8. Stay safe

Never give out personal information or send money to anyone. Use your first name only and give personal details only when you have got to know each other well. Follow your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, steer clear.

Meet in a public place like a cafe or pub. Tell a friend where you are going and who with and when to expect you back. Make sure you don't get drunk.

9. Less is more at first

Don't give too much away too soon. Gradually reveal details about yourself and don't post photos that are overly sexy.

Policewoman Nicola has had experience of this. "Online dating sites are full of people who want to get to the flirty email stage before they even say hello! And that's just the ordinary ones!"

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