Online Dating - Getting Started

by Jason Tudor

Unlike the real world, online dating does require a bit more than your good looks and charm. Obviously, if you are reading this you already have some of those  items, like a computer and Internet access, but there is a few you might not have considered and may help enhance your online dating experience.

A Computer

Obviously, if you want to date online you need access to a computer. It doesn’t matter if it is Mac or PC as long as you have a connection to the internet. If you can’t afford to buy one, try an internet café. Always remember to log out of your account when you leave.

Internet Connection

It also helps to have a high-speed internet connection, such as cable, satellite and my personal favorite, ADSL. High-speed connections cost a little more than the traditional “dial-up” but are well worth the extra charge.

High-speed Internet connections are always on, which means you can access the Internet without the need to dial up your Internet service provider over a telephone line. Unlike dial-up, there are never any busy signals, you don't have to enter a password and username every time you want to connect, and you can surf the Internet without tying up your telephone line. Graphics load faster, which helps when you’re checking out dozens and dozens of people’s pictures.

Printer

A printer is only necessary if you want to print copies of emails you receive from people with whom you are corresponding, which is actually a very good idea. Once you start to get involved with someone you may want to read them again to see if you spot any worrying discrepancies from one email to another.

Anonymous Email Account

When you date on the Internet, you never ever want to give out your private email address. Instead, sign up for a free Web-based anonymous e-mail account like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail and use that one for online dating services. It will help protect your real identity and privacy. If you decide to stop using the dating site you won't have unwanted mail cluttering up your real in-box.

Web Cam and Microphone

This is totally optional. Many online dating services now offer Live Web Cam video feeds - the next best thing to being right there with your potential date. This feature allows you to see and hear the conversation in real time. To do so you will need to have a Web Cam and microphone hooked up on your computer. Web Cams can be purchased at any computer retail store and run about $60 to $90 - some even come with microphones built right in.

Credit Card

Once you are ready to become a paid subscriber you'll need to provide the dating service with a credit card. Some dating sites do accept checks but it can take a few days to validate them. It's quicker and easier just to provide them with a credit card number. Don't worry it's quite safe, just make sure that the site is secure before entering your credit card information (see below).

How to check for a secure connection

To confirm that you have a secure connection when entering sensitive information (such as your credit card details) into a Web page, especially a dating service, look for the Web address in the browser address bar to make sure that it starts with "https" (or by looking to the lock symbol in the lower right corner of your browser, or near the top of your browsers address bar). If both are present than you know you have secure connection and your information is safe from prying eyes.

Basic Computer and Internet Skills

First-time computer users may find Internet dating a bit of a challenge. If you don't know how to send and respond to email and instant messages you may want to hire someone to teach you basic computer and Internet skills. Many libraries also offer beginner computer classes for free. Online dating isn't difficult. It's designed to be easy for the average person, but you may get frustrated quickly if you don't know even the basics.

Well, now that you know what you need to start dating online, it's time to find a dating service that interests you. Read  "What Dating Site To Use"  for tips on how to find one that's just right for you.

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