Looking for Love in all the Right Places

Online dating. For many, those two words make them cringe while for others, it is the new normal.

Believe it or not, matchmaking websites first hit the dating scene in 1995 (yes, almost 25 years ago!) with the launch of Match.com. The popularity of online dating surged among Millennials who had grown up with technology at their fingertips and were entering the brave new world of socializing, virtually.

These days, using websites and smartphone apps to find love has become socially acceptable among all ages. No longer is online dating associated with the stigma of being desperate and lonely.

84% of dating site users who were surveyed stated they were in search of a long-term romantic relationship. 66% wanted to broaden their pool of dating candidates, and 43% were looking for friends. Only 24% were in search of noncommittal physical relationships.

Online dating is the second most popular method for heterosexual couples to meet while it is far and away the top choice for same-sex couple connections. Men utilize dating sites and apps more than women. Those who are in their late teens and early twenties frequent online dating websites more often than people in their thirties and beyond. As for favorite sites, both genders ages 18 to 29 prefer Tinder, while single people over 30 years of age look for connections on sites such as Match.com.

Research conducted by Josue Ortega at the University of Essex in the U.K. and Philipp Hergovich at the University of Vienna in Austria tells us that one third of all marriages are a result of an online connection and that those relationships tend to have lower rates of divorce or breakups. So, for those looking for a long-term romantic partner, online dating sites are indeed a catalyst for serious connections. According to eHarmony, one in five new relationships begin online. This partnering trend is expected to continue, with 50% of relationships resulting from online dating by 2031 and upwards of 70% by the year 2040.

Newly single men and women between the ages of 40 and 50 are braving the online dating scene after years of commitment. If you are among those reentering the dating scene, here are a few tips to help you keep your eyes wide open should you foray into the online dating realm.

1. Know what you want in a relationship

It is important to have a clear understanding of your ultimate relationship goals before embarking on the online dating scene. This can help you decide which websites are best suited for your needs as well as help guide you when identifying potential matches.

2. Choose one or two dating sites only

Avoid spreading yourself too thin by signing up for more than just one or two websites. Pick the few that meet your relationship needs.

3. Be authentic

Write a detailed profile and use a recent photo. Let people know who you really are and what you want and don’t want in a potential match. Better to be matched with a few people who have an idea of who you are and what you want than many people who turn out to be Mr. or Ms. OH-SO-WRONG.

4. Spend time looking at other people’s profiles

The trend of making a snap judgment by swiping right or left only focuses on a person’s appearance. Of course, physical attraction is important but it is not the only factor and doesn’t lay the foundation for a real relationship.

5. Avoid getting obsessed

Online dating can become an obsessive pastime, checking in to see if you’ve been matched, or if someone has responded to a message you’ve sent. Set limitations around using these apps to minimize this possibility. This will also help you avoid falling victim to what some call the “depressing hierarchy of desirability” when you consistently find yourself NOT being matched.

6. Meet people naturally

Don’t simply rely on a dating website as the sole means for finding your partner. Unless you are a hermit, you have many opportunities to engage with new and interesting people, as you go about your day. Step out of your comfort zone. Smile. Say hi. Strike up a conversation. You never know whom you might meet….

Online dating can be a great way to meet new people. Be open to the experience and keep your eyes wide open along the way. Who knows, you may get lucky and even meet Mr. or Ms. Right in short order.

Originally published at www.pam-evans.com.

Relationship Strategist, Pam Evans, is the author of Ring EXchange — Life Lessons from a Multiple Marrier.