How to find love online

With the rise and rise of online dating, we ask can you really find love on the web?

A glass heart on display. Image PA

A glass heart on display.

The advent of the internet has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other.

With instant messaging we are able to communicate with people all over the world. Distance (and cost) is no longer an issue.

Some people prefer to look for love online – sometimes for no other reason than our working hours dictate our social life.

If anything it’s a great way to meet new and exciting people, which under other circumstances meant our paths may never have crossed.

Internet relationships are in many ways just a modern extension of pen-pal friendships, but with the advantage of instant messaging and ability to stream both audio and video footage of ourselves.

Friendships that begin online can blossom into full-blown relationships, and in some cases even marriage.

A laptop keyboard. Image PA

Fingers typing on a laptop.

The dating boom

The internet has become an increasingly popular method of finding a partner.

Dating sites number in their hundreds and span the globe. Subscription numbers are at an all time high.

Instant messaging itself is free and doesn't discriminate those without a credit-card. This makes it open to all and is especially popular with the younger cosmopolitan crowd.

Stay safe online

The potential for anonymity on the internet means it is possible to become embroiled in an imaginary online existence. And because we are naturally attracted to thrill and danger, it is all too easy to get swept into a fantasy world.

Keep your wits about you by sticking to some simple principles: 

If your screen name gives away personal information, you may be putting your privacy at risk. Be wary of giving too much personal information away. Use this as a guage: don't reveal anything you wouldn't feel comfortable divulging over a meal or sipping drinks.

Likewise, avoid giving away financial information. If getting to know someone involves recounting their entire financial history chances are they are not after your personality.

Man holding a computer mouse. Image PA

Man clutching a computer mouse.

Before you agree to go on a date, make sure you know as much about the person as possible by asking lots of questions.

Make sure you see as many photos as possible. The more you know about someone before you meet, the better.

Don't be intimidated. If a person is making unwanted advances and inappropriate behaviour - say something. If they continue, it might act as a warning sign and be indicative of their true nature. 

By avoiding answering your questions could make it look like they have something to hide. Internet dating attracts a higher risk of deception; don't believe everything you are told, trust is gained over time.

Arranging the meet

Typically, meeting is the natural progression of any online relationship.

Meeting for the first time can be daunting and is something that both children and teenagers should be discouraged from.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that secuirty is solely a concern for women, but it is just as important to men too. Before embarking on the date be sure to let someone know your whereabouts beforehand (perhaps a trusted friend or family member) it might also be wise to leave your date's phone number in case of an emergency.

Arrange to meet in a communal area or take a friend along for moral support. You can never be too careful, so don't take any unnecessary risks.

Always take your mobile phone with you. If you need to bail on your date excuse yourself by nipping to the toilet and call a friend to come and find you.