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Online dating

By SUZY TURNER features@algarveresident.com

Suzy Turner has lived in Portugal for 23 years and works as a freelance writer. As well as putting pen to paper for the Algarve Resident’s online section, she also contributes to the beauty and fashion columns and is also the Features Editor.

Meeting people for potential romance has never been the easiest thing in the world. The likes of Bridget Jones will testify to that (well… she would if she were actually real). However, in recent years there has been a massive increase in the number of people meeting online. Whether it be in chat rooms or, for the dating ‘connoisseur’, via internet dating agencies.

You may have noticed a marked increase in the number of online dating adverts currently being shown on television, particularly in the UK. This just goes to show that it is big business. Match.com is perhaps one of the most popular, with its bizarre commercials featuring rather obscure characters playing Cupid and Fate (“Don’t wait for Cupid and Fate”). If you type in ‘online dating’ into Google, for example, you will probably be astounded at the number of sites that appear.

Online dating ought to only be used if you have failed to meet anyone through your usual circle of friends and acquaintances. Although the idea of finding your ‘perfect partner’ might excite you, you must remember that such a person really does not exist. Nobody is perfect. Ideal, perhaps, but not perfect. Once you have come to terms with this fact and have failed elsewhere, then why not give it a go?

Some sites take out all the hard work of searching through thousands and thousands of potential mates, to narrow it down for you. They take the results of your personality test and compare it with the profiles of others to find those who are likely to suit you. So make sure you are completely honest to get the very best results. Also, post a recent photo of yourself, and not one that is 20 years old! Imagine if you arranged to meet ‘the man of your dreams’, of athletic build and with a full head of dark hair only to find he is, in reality, carrying a rather large paunch with a grey comb over? Not a nice thought, is it? Although we should not judge a book by its cover, it’s more important to judge someone by their honesty! But if it sounds too good to be true, though, it probably is!

You may think it’s difficult to meet someone online, when you’re in Portugal but there are plenty of websites to try out that also cover this neck of the woods. Match.com, for example, is described as the world’s largest online dating service and covers many different countries, including this one. It also claims, “We’re so confident you will find the person you are looking for on our site that we offer our customers a Make Love Happen Guarantee – this is our promise that if you don’t find love online in six months, we’ll give you another six months of fabulous dating opportunities absolutely free.” So what are you waiting for?

Perhaps you’re still a little nervous? Sceptic? Terrified!? As long as you proceed with caution, you should have nothing to worry about. Here are some safety pointers to bear in mind:

When starting out, don’t give out your real name, phone number or address – at least until you feel totally comfortable doing so. Set up an ‘anonymous’ email address to be used specifically for internet dating, and consider a PO Box number for snail mail correspondence as well. Remember to always trust your instincts and immediately stop communicating with anyone that makes you feel unsure or threatened.

Once you’re ready to meet someone for the first time, always arrange to meet in a public place, and tell at least one friend or family member where you are going, what time and when you are expected back. You could also ask them to phone you at a predetermined time. Don’t leave your personal items unattended at any point during the ‘date’, and do not tell them where you live until you feel completely at ease doing so.

But above all, online dating services are there for you to meet potential partners, which should be lots of fun, so sit back and prepare to flirt!

Some online dating sites

www.match.com

www.friendsreuniteddating.co.uk

www.dating.telegraph.co.uk

www.datingdirect.com

www.parship.co.uk

www.meetic.co.uk

www.loopylove.co.uk