Online dating needn't be as bad as you think. I survived, so can you. Just watch out for the don'ts and live by the dos.
DO: Have a decent photo
And more than one. You really don't want to see that look on your date's face when you turn up. Make sure they are well represented pictorially too. Cameras, contrary to popular belief, are compulsive liars. (Also, make sure you are going on a date with the person you think you are.)
DON'T: Lie on your dating profile
If you really want this to go somewhere, you'll have to be honest - so no adding mystery inches to your height, re-imagining job titles or boasting of non-existent celebrity connections. You'll be found out for sure, and, your date will wonder just what else you're lying about.
DO: Take chances
Is your potential date a bit duller over email than you'd like? Maybe he's got a squished nose and looks like he could do with some exercise? You can wait and wait for perfection only for it never to arrive. While online dating does come with its own level of shallowness - after all, you're reading profiles and making judgements on what they say and look like - don't be afraid to step out of your natural boundaries. Sometimes the biggest online dullard ducklings turn into fabulous exotic swans in the flesh. (It does happen, sometimes. It does!)
DON'T: Be afraid to say no
Some guys on dating sites can be pretty insistent over email or text. If you really don't want to go, be firm, but polite. Just because you don't have anything better to do doesn't mean you should feel under pressure to go on a date with them. You don't even have to make up an excuse.
DON'T: Go for dinner on the first date
Once you're sitting at a table with this stranger, you're trapped until the bill comes - and they could be a very slow eater and dull to boot. Also, you don't want to spend your first meeting picking food out of your teeth, or, worse, having it spat all over you as he describes in great detail his big project at work.
DO: Be on time
It's a small thing, but even slight lateness can set a miserable tone for the rest of the date and come between you. If you are going to be late, a text with an apology and how long you expect to be should be hitting your date's phone at least five minutes before your assigned meeting time.
DO: Be clean
Sounds like an obvious point, but you'd be surprised how often dates turn up without showering. If you're coming straight from work, take a spare T-shirt with you and some cologne so you can have a quick spritz before you arrive.
DON'T: Be tipsy
Never arrive drunk or come from somewhere else where you've been drinking. You want to be at the same level when it comes to sobriety. A tipsy date can be boring company.
Contribute to the conversation. It's great that you're "a good listener" but you're wrong if you think letting someone do all the talking makes for a great date. They want to get to know you too - so tell 'em!
DON'T: Be mean
Sometimes you arrive on a date and know immediately they're not for you. So your hopes are dashed, bad luck, but still treat your date with a bit of respect. Stay for a drink - maybe even two - take a little bit of time to get to know them and then, if it's still a no, end the night with a polite 'thank you'. Don't use your disappointment as an excuse to treat your date as an emotional punchbag. They're better than that. Hopefully, so are you.