Think it's going to be easy, do you? Think you just slip into your 'sweat pants'*, crack open a bottle of sweet white wine, flip open your 2001 Dell laptop and find a boyfriend?
If only things were that simple. Luckily, I am here to help.General PointersAvoid annoying punctuation
Multiple exclamation marks and smiley after smiley are really fucking annoying. Don't use them if you want to be asked out on a blind date, unless your correspondent is also a fan, in which case you deserve each other. You can't hide desperation
The stink of desperation is hard to dispel. If you are desperate, stop online dating immediately and contact your local psychotherapist. No, finding a nice lady or man is not going to make you feel better in a profound or lasting way. You can't fancy someone you haven't met
You can like the look of them and think they sound good, but you can't fancy someone you haven't met. Fact.Don't go on holiday to Fantasy Island
You're only meeting someone for a date. Do NOT start idly flicking through Brides magazine before you've seen if they can use a knife and fork or not. What do I do when I see someone I like the look of online?
Don't panic, don't get overexcited, and don't expect too much. Remember: you haven't met yet, and you are not at the 6th form disco, seeing people of the opposite sex for the first time. Read the object of interest's profile carefully. Write an email that is fairly lighthearted, but indicates that you have read their profile and are interested. (NB: writing an email indicates that you are interested. You don't have to say it too.)What do I do if they don't reply?
Leave it. Don't write again. Options are:
a) they're not interested
b) their computer has broken
c) they are away
d) they are thinking about what to say if they reply.
If someone's interested, they'll reply. It's as simple as that. What do I do if they write back and they sound like an idiot?
Give it a few goes. Exchange a few emails. If you still don't like the sound of them, write and say it's been lovely talking to them, but you're not sure you've got that much in common. Or something. What do I do if they write back and they sound nice?
Durr. Write back. But don't get overexcited. Should we talk on the phone first?
Er, yes. For all you know he may have a tongue that's too big for his mouth, or sound like George Osbourne (who was at school with my brother and was a twat even then, apparently). If they sound OK on email, and you have an OK conversation on the phone, chances are you'll have a good date (even if it doesn't lead anywhere). I once met someone without talking to him first and he sounded just like a stupid golden labrador would sound if it could talk. Awful. Is there anything I shouldn't mention before we've met?
Don't whinge, bitch or talk about your ex. (In fact, don't do that generally. It's undignified, boring, and makes you sound like a twat.) Don't mention therapy, your terrible childhood, or your gimp mask (unless you're on certain types of site).Is there anything I should mention before we meet?
c) prison record
d) number of James Blunt albums owned
e) heroin addiction
g) sex addiction
h) bankruptcy.What do I do if they ask to see pictures of me naked?
That, my friend, is your business, and will in some way be dictated by what kind of site you are on. (If you know what I mean. Hem hem.) Otherwise, I'd tell them to piss off out of it and get their adolescent pervo-kicks elsewhere. Or send you some money via PayPal first.Should I ask him out?
Internet dating is one of the few places where everyone seems to forget that the ladies can't make the first move. The point of doing it is to meet and possibly have a relationship. Therefore, suggesting that you meet for a drink is fine, if that's what you want to do.Should I ask her out?
Yeah.How long should I wait until I suggest we meet?
Don't piss about. If you live within 50 miles of each other and are getting on on email, there's no reason not to do it within a couple of weeks. Remember: you haven't met yet, and it might not work out. And if it doesn't, there are more people to meet.
There's also a little thing about long, long email exchanges turning into a virtual relationship. It is all too easy to start having fanciful notions about someone you haven't met yet - notions that are rarely met when you meet. So don't do it. Is it OK to meet more than one person in a week?
Fuck, yeah. You're talking online, not going out with each other. (Yet.)Is it OK to meet more than one person in a day?
If you've got the time, why not?Is it OK to meet more than two people in a day?
Are you unemployed and gagging for it?Where should I suggest we meet?
Somewhere informal, where you're not stranded with each other if one of you wants to make a quick escape. Good idea: pub for a drink; gallery (cheesy but true, plus you get to check them out). Bad ideas: dinner; theatre; cinema; London Eye shut in a pod going round and round and round and round; a mountain; your mum's house.Now what do I do?
Put on some clothes that suit you and that you feel comfortable in. Wash. (Do that bit before you put the clothes on.) If you wear makeup, don't slap it on. Don't get pissed before you meet. Tell one other person where you're going and with whom. Then just go and meet them, and be yourself.
And remember, Wise Datingmonkey Say: It's Only Real Once You've Met.
Bonne chance, my dating friends.
* what, exactly, are 'sweat pants'?