Do create a detailed, flattering, eye-catching profile
Post at least five recent photos ranging from glam to jeans-no-makeup. Tell the truth about everything except your name. Use a pseudonym until you meet the guy in person and decide he is okay. Smart equals safe.
Don’t spend weeks emailing
Fantasy (the Internet dating curse) needs to meet reality—fast. Establish contact, share a couple of emails and, if you are interested, make a date for a phone call. Ask for his number and set a time to call him. (I told every man that my policy was to keep my number private until I met him; only one guy had a problem with that—so he didn’t get a date.) If the phone call is good, meet in person.
Do meet for coffee or a meal
This is a good idea if you are a confident conversationalist. If in doubt, meet for an activity. It is far more relaxing to go to an art gallery or museum, or go for a walk, than to stare at each other over a table for an hour.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations
Don’t allow crazy, unrealistic expectations to burden what is simply a first date. Hint: The man behind the profile may be nothing like the description on your screen. When I finally met the man whose profile pic showed a shirtless hunk helming a sailboat, in person he weighed 30 pounds more and was 15 years older. I still liked him, but he was not the man I thought I was meeting.
Do keep trying
Go on a lot of dates. Take it seriously; nothing worth achieving happens easily. If the first date is not terrible, give him a second chance. Most of us are more relaxed and natural the second time we meet. Do make eye contact, touch his arm and, if you wish, share a kiss or two. But don’t have sex! This is not a test drive. It is a walk around the lot to see what you might like to drive later.
Don’t expect an endless stream of great guys
Don’t fall for the psychological illusion created by Internet dating that there is an endless stream of great guys, each one juicier than the last. Let’s say you meet someone you like, go on several dates, even become sexual and contemplate monogamy. Then you see a new fantasy in your inbox. Beware. There is no soulmate or Mr. Right. You know who does exist? The great guy you’re dating. Once you’re involved, close your online account. Now that you’ve clicked, there is no more need to click.