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The screening process

Don't click love away

On the Internet love can be just a click away … but the flipside to that is that you can lose a potential partner with a click too. So think twice before engaging that index finger …

Don't click love away

Online is not the same as the ‘real world’

How do you normally get to know someone? You meet, you spark each other’s interest, you get talking – but, to start with, you know very little about each other. A whole array of factors can influence the outcome of your meeting.

On the Internet it’s different. Before you meet, you know quite a lot about each other … You’ve read each other’s profile, exchanged photos … There’s a screening process that doesn’t exist in ‘real life’ and you need to adapt your behaviour accordingly.

It’s about what you want
Your desires and needs drive your search for a partner. If you don’t understand yourself, then finding someone who is right for you could be like looking for a needle in a haystack – so make sure you have a clear picture of what matters to you in life and what you are looking for in a relationship. Use your past experiences as a point of reference … What was good about your last relationship? What experiences would you not wish to see repeated? Maybe note down the key points before you move to the next stage.

Setting goals
You need to define your frame of reference, but don’t narrow things down too much. If you are making a list of what you don’t want in a partner, restrict it to things that really are completely unacceptable to you. This doesn’t mean you should be too open-minded, though, or you could run the danger of building someone up into something they are not.

Patience really is a virtue
... Hair too short, too many grammatical slips, the wrong interests … It can be easy to find a reason for clicking away from someone’s profile. But by making such snap decisions you could be missing a real opportunity and compromising your chances. It’s worth taking your time to read profiles and emails carefully and to look for the plus points. It’s maybe even worth sticking a Post-it on your screen with the words ‘Stop and think’ written on it – it could help you in making considered decisions.

Read between the lines
How long did it actually take you to write your ‘About me’ page – and are you totally happy with it? Do you feel it really captures your character? If so, you’ve done an exceptional job with it – most people find it pretty hard to describe themselves. The same goes for photos. There are even pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie where they don’t look so good – and, after all, not everyone is photogenic ... So it’s always worth looking at a profile in detail and not making too many assumptions based on a photo.

The generous view
Not everyone can write eloquently and not everybody looks like a screen idol, but a photo or an ‘About me’ page doesn’t say everything about a person. So before you actually get to know someone, it can be worth giving them the benefit of the doubt. But if someone starts making suggestive comments in emails, or if something else happens to make you uncomfortable, then you are quite justified in bringing things to an early end.

On the other hand, if you are just not sure about something, give yourself a chance to mull things over … sleep on it – or even give yourself a few days. That being said, if you are the kind of person who tends to come to decisions quickly, then there is no point in delaying things unnecessarily. In general, though, it’s worth taking a generous view on other members. Not only does it increase your level of online contact, it also accelerates your learning about the whole process of online dating.

Wise after the event
Love is not simple – and you should be prepared for some trial and error along the way to finding someone who is really right for you. You really can learn from experience: by sustaining contact with a number of different people, you will gain valuable insights into what you want and don’t want, and you will learn whether someone is likely to be able to fulfil your expectations.

You can come to view other members’ profiles with new eyes, recognising where they have points in common with past contacts – in both positive and negative respects; this knowledge could prompt you to adjust your search criteria accordingly. All in all, these processes will help you to home in on Mr or Ms Right. It might take a little time, but in the context of a potential long-term relationship, you shouldn’t feel the need to rush things.

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