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Let online dating sites work for you

Q: I joined an online matchmaking service over a year and half ago. I thought that people would be serious about finding someone to share their lives with. Can you tell me why all the guys seem to look at the profiles and pictures and never move past that point? I have sent icebreakers and questions and they never seem to respond.

How can you find someone if no one will give you a chance? If they do, they seem to close the match before we can even get to the communication point. I am 51, and for my age group, there are not many places to meet people. I am just someone who is really serious about finding that special person to share my life with. C.L., Hamburg

A: While there are a lot of issues with it, Internet dating can help you polish your skills for real life dating.

Some of the benefits of Internet matchmaking sites are that they can help you identify where you're lacking in your dating skills, and also the areas in which you thrive.

They can also match you with a certain ethnic or religious group of people; you can specify just about every single criteria you'd like in a partner, right down to interests and hobbies, and voila, the computer will find someone for you. However, just because two people like to paint and ride horses doesn't mean there will be chemistry, or any kind of real connection.

The bottom line is, having things in common is great, but it's not necessarily an indicator of whether two people are right for one another.

It can be very hard to know what people are looking for. In your case, you're serious about meeting a respectable, single guy with whom to have an exclusive long-term relationship. Some people are looking for sex partners, mistresses, multiple partners, or perhaps just to casually date around and have a good time, not specifically looking for a relationship.

There is no way to know for sure, unless the person specifies it on his/her profile, or upon making the effort to meet. The ugly truth is that there are a lot of people who go on dating sites to play, and some of them are married or otherwise unavailable.

When you're making a profile, remember to keep it simple. One or two sentences about your personality will suffice just fine, along with a few flattering pictures of you looking your best.

Try to avoid listing the qualities of the person you're looking for (tall, thin, lots of money, no kids, funny, smart, good-looking, etc.) as this can be a turn-off and sends the message that you're looking for the perfect person.

Sometimes people get caught up in the fantasy world of Internet dating. There are some individuals on those sites that never meet anyone in person; they're obsessed with creating a fantasy version of themselves via their profiles.

They might have misleading photos, false information regarding their age, interests and hobbies, etc., all to make themselves more desirable online. The problem is, as soon as they meet someone, their cover will be blown, and it would be pointless.

As far as getting yourself out there and meeting people, I would suggest taking up a hobby and making new friends. Every new friend you make has friends, who have friends, some of them probably single, who would love to meet you.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions. Please e-mail questions to queencitymatchmaker@gmail.com and include your initials and hometown. For more information, go to pattinovak.com

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