Perhaps you’ve noticed that on-line dating sites advertise heavily. They realize that many single people want to find a mate and that they may consider trying Internet dating. That may be true for you. So whether you’re considering it for the first time or if you’re currently on-line, I thought I’d offer some straight talk about on-line dating.

You should know that my perspective comes from personal experience. I did on-line dating for about 18 months and was on four different sites—Match, E-harmony, Yahoo Personals and Great Expectations. That experience taught me a lot—the hard way. I’ve also coached dozens and dozens of people who’ve been involved in on-line dating and listening to their tragedies and triumphs has also taught me a lot. So what I’m about to say is not coach-speak or ivory tower theory, but wisdom from the trenches. I’ll divide my straight talk into four parts: Principles, Practices, Profiles and Pictures.

1. Being on-line isn’t necessary.
While many people have met someone and fallen in love via on-line dating, it really isn’t necessary. Does a flower have to “do” anything to attract bees? Of course not. It just lives its life looking beautiful and smelling wonderful and the bees find them. Likewise, all you need to “do” in order to attract the love of your life is be the happy, emotionally healthy, sweet-smelling beautiful “flower” that you are and your partner, man or woman, will find you. I’m not against on-line dating per say, it’s just that your Beingness is magnetic and attractive. It doesn’t need any help. That said, the Internet is a tool and you may want to give it a try. If so, read on.

2. Be happy being alone.
I’ve written an entire book on this subject, that’s how important it is. If you’re looking for a partner on-line (or anywhere else) because you feel a relationship will alleviate your loneliness or make you happy or emotionally complete, you’re in for a painful, rough road on-line (or in any dating situation). You must realize that you are happiness, that you are complete as a spiritual being, apart from anyone else. If there is any craving and neediness for love in you, you will attract a partner who also isn’t grounded in who they are, and speaking from personal experience, that leads to disaster. So before you go on-line, or even date at all, do your personal work. Read my book (you can find it on the homepage of my website), hire a coach (I know a really good one ☺) or a therapist and work on letting go the perceived need for a relationship to make you whole. For here’s the dirty little secret about the law of attraction as it pertains to relationships: You will only and always attract a partner that is as healthy as you are.

3. Be pickier than usual.
Whatever standards you have for a potential partner in your life (something we’ll discuss next), raise them when you go on-line. Be extremely picky, more than usual. Raise the bar—high. If you don’t, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of “okay” men and women and you don’t have time for “okay,” nor are you interested in “okay”—or at least you shouldn’t be. You want amazing. So only contact or respond to men or women who knock your socks off. If you find anything in their profile that doesn’t resonate with your heart 100%, don’t communicate with them. Trust me in this. It’ll save you a lot of heartache.

4. Begin with the end in mind.
When I used to teach golf, I’d frequently tell my students that the things you did before you swing the club determine your success or failure. Likewise, if you want the on-line experience to work for you, there are several issues you must be clear about beforehand.

First, you must decide what kind of relationship you want: one-night stands, casual dating or long-term committed monogamy. Second, get clear on your basic requirements. Identify 3-5 must-haves (e.g. wants children) and 3-5 can’t-stands (e.g. smoking). You don’t need an overly long list, but you do need one that defines your basic boundaries.

Third, go much deeper and create a “Relationship Vision.” This is a feeling-tone, heart-yearning, emotional description of what you most want to experience in intimacy. Go deeper than your partner’s appearance and income. This can be done as a vision board, though I prefer my clients to write it out as a story.

Fourth, and most importantly, ask yourself, “Would the man or woman I’m visualizing be interested in me?” Remember: Like attracts like. You will never attract someone healthier, happier or more grounded than you are. You will attract after your own kind. So if you, as a woman, described your man as some incredible warrior-king, would he be interested in you? And guys, if you visualize an enchanting, gorgeous, goddess-woman, would she give you the time of day? What changes, what growth, what transformation needs to occur in your life so that when you meet the man or woman of your dreams, you are the fulfillment of their relationship vision?

(A short side note. This is where relationship coaching comes in. I support people who wish to be their most authentic, evolved selves and thus magnetically attract their reciprocal, glorious opposite and create an amazing intimacy. Most single people are not ready for, or capable of, deep authentic intimacy because of old emotional wounds and self-sabotaging unconscious patterns that have ruined and are ruining their ability to attract a healthy mate. People who are serious about wanting a great, satisfying relationship commit to coaching and serious self-development as the first step in that process. I would invite you to do that as well.)

5. Decide on your sexual boundaries.
Before you go on-line (or before you date, period), you must decide when you are going to allow things to become physical. What are your boundaries in this area? This is totally your decision and, of course, what you decide depends on what kind of relationship you want—one night stands, casual dating or long-term committed love. Each of those three types of relationships leads to a different sexual commitment, obviously.

As a relationship coach, I am only interested in the long-term variety. I recommend to my clients who are interested in long-term intimacy to hold off on being sexual until the two of you are in an exclusive (which means, among other things, not on-line anymore!), committed couple. Now, you may reach that point after a few dates or after a few months. Time isn’t the issue, commitment is. In my experience, people have the most success and the least grief in their relationships when sexuality is an expression of commitment rather than an expression of chemistry. (I’ve written an extensive piece on this. It can be found on my website/blog under the title: The Third Wave of the Sexual Revolution.)

Once those principles are a part of your life, you are then ready to go on-line. Here’s a nuts and bolts list on how to make Internet dating a positive experience.

1. Structure your on-line time.
I advise my clients to go on-line to look at profiles and communicate with potential matches just once a week, say, Sunday evening. That’s it. Don’t be doing this every day! You have a life, right? Live it. (If you don’t, get one!) I also recommend that you spend no more than 2 hours on the sites. Don’t be obsessive with on-line dating, for it can consume your time and energy.

2. Cut to the chase.
If you see or hear from someone amazing, get to a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Don’t get stuck in email / text message / phone call hell. Here’s how it should go: The man sends an email to a woman. (Ladies, you should rarely initiate. Be the flower, let the men be the bee.) This email should be short, sincere and mention something you like about their profile. Ask them to respond if they’re interested. Don’t contact them more than once. If they’re interested, they’ll respond.

If you’ve followed my advice on being picky, you’re only communicating with someone who sounds off-the-charts amazing. So if that’s the case, ladies, tell the guy something that resonates with you in his profile and give him your phone number. (Why wait? The guy’s seems amazing, right?) Then, guys, call her and ask her to meet you. Do this within one day of receiving her message. Don’t play games and wait a few days. She’s hot and you’re interested. It’s okay if she knows that! And don’t ask her out via email or text message. Have a little class. Call the woman.

3. Rules for your first meeting.
I beg you to listen to me here. This is so important and it will save you a lot of grief. The purpose of this first meeting (this is not a date!) is to see if they are who they said they are and to determine if you feel some chemistry with one another. With that purpose in mind, here are the rules.

First, agree to meet at a public place for coffee or tea—not drinks and definitely not dinner. Don’t meet at a restaurant/bar. Starbucks or Panera Bread will do. Keep alcohol and any significant financial commitment out of the first meeting. People lie and misrepresent themselves in their profiles. Don’t commit time and money on someone you don’t know. Second, agree to meet for a ½ hour. This way, if you don’t feel it, you’ve got an easy out. (It will only take you three minutes to determine if there is chemistry between the two of you, but making a three minute date might seem weird.) However, since this person seems amazing, you may want to SECRETLY leave some time open behind the ½ hour meeting in case he or she is amazing and you want the meeting to turn into a full-blown date.

4. Do NOT have sex.
Earlier we said it was your decision as to when you wanted to engage sexually with your partner. But as to this first meeting, I’m going to make the decision for you! ☺ If you are on-line to meet the love of your life and have an amazing committed long-term relationship, there are absolutely no circumstances—none!— in which it would be beneficial for you to have sex with them when you first meet. I don’t care if the chemistry is so thick you can hardly breathe, don’t get physical. A kiss goodbye, maybe, but that’s it.

I’m not saying this from a morality perspective. I’m coming from a sanity perspective. The Internet is full of players, married people and outright morons. Chemistry is a lousy judge of character! In fact, the minute you become sexual, your intuition shuts down, your ears no longer hear what a person is really saying and your eyes no longer see red flags. Be with the person for a while. Take a cold shower if you need to, but see if they’re for real. Determine if you’re compatible and then consummate your chemistry, compatibility and commitment by making love.

5. What to do if you don’t like them.
The final rule is about what to do if you find you’re not interested in seeing this person again. This is the hardest rule to follow, yet if you want to be a truly caring person, it’s a must. Tell them the unvarnished truth. Don’t sugar coat it. If you don’t want to see them again, say this: “You seem like a really nice person but I don’t feel a fit between us. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I wish you all the best.” Then walk away.

Men, don’t be a wuss and say you’ll call them when you know you have no intention of doing so. And ladies, don’t say you’d like him to call you again if you already know you won’t answer the phone! You are not hurting a person’s feelings if you say you’re not interested. (You’re actually protecting your own feelings!) Honor them with your truth.

Writing a good profile is a critical part of having a positive on-line experience. Yet I’ve seen far too many men and women hardly put any thought or time into theirs. This is a huge, huge mistake. Your profile (in a perfect world) serves as a filter, ensuring that you attract only those who might be a good fit for you and keeping the others away. Now, I realize we don’t live in a perfect world. You will be contacted by people who never read your profile. If your pictures look good, that’s enough for them. But the better the profile, the less this happens.

Writing a good profile begins by asking yourself a critical question: Who are you writing to? Most people make the mistake of writing to the masses of men or women on-line since that’s who’s going to read it. It’s logical to think, “There are hundreds or even thousands of people who are going to read this, so I want to write something that is widely appealing and gives a general feel for who I am and what I’m looking for.”

Read the very next sentence as if I was screaming it at you, because I am: That is exactly what you DON’T want to do!!! You don’t want to appeal to the masses; you want to appeal to just one person, the person who appears in your relationship vision.

Sit down in front of your computer and imagine the man or woman of your dreams—and talk to them, and them only. In other words, share your relationship vision. Tell them who you are; tell them about the kind of relationship you’d like to have with them; tell them what would melt your heart and buckle your knees.

Your profile needs to be very personal, of a decent length (at least 300 words) and a real expression of your depth and heart. Because remember: like attracts like. If you want a man or woman of depth, then your profile better be an expression of your depth. Your potential partner is on-line reading hundreds of profiles and most of them are silly, shallow drivel. He or she is looking for a special person, someone of depth. So show that part of yourself.

Get over any fears about being too deep and personal on-line. What’s the big deal? All you’re revealing is what your heart most yearns for in a relationship. Is that something to be ashamed of, or to be kept quiet? Of course not! You’re on-line to meet the love of your life. So be authentic and personal. Express your depth. It will catch the eye of your reciprocal: a man or woman dreaming of someone like you.

However, being personal does NOT mean being inappropriate. Don’t talk about your past relationships, your personal problems or your childhood wounds. And definitely don’t talk about sex! Unless you’re on-line to simply get laid, there should not be a single word about anything sexual. You don’t have to say you like sex and romance. Who doesn’t? Guys, if you mention anything about sex, a woman of any depth won’t respond to you. It’s creepy. And ladies, if you mention anything about how passionate and affectionate you are, you’ll just be inundated with single-minded men.

Another issue to not discuss in your profile is your income. You can and should talk about what you do for a living, but don’t say what you make or even what your income range is. Many on-line sites actually have a place where you list your income range. Leave it blank, especially if you’re a man. Here’s why. If shallow, unevolved men are primarily interested in a woman’s body and appearance (and they are), so shallow, unevolved women are primarily interested in a man’s finances. If you say you make 200k in your profile, it’s akin to a woman showing her cleavage in her pictures. You will have a lot of people contacting you, but they will be more interested in the size of your bank account than in the size of your heart.

Your profile should go into depth about who you are. Talk about your favorite vacation spots, books, movies, hobbies and interests, whether it’s art, fitness, music, sports, politics or spirituality. And then go deeper. Tell them why these things are so meaningful to you. Open your heart. If something is a big deal in your life it should be reflected in your profile. If I wrote a profile now, I would spend a lot of time discussing my spiritual interests, my commitments to my son and my fitness routines. Those are hugely important things in my life.

Tell them your exact age and don’t lie. It’ll come back to bite you. Tell them about your children (if you have them) and include their ages. If you don’t have kids but want them, definitely include that. This kind of detail gives a person a window into your soul and it will attract someone who resonates with you.

Finally, let’s talk about how to lay out your profile. Here’s a simple, effective format. It begins with the basics and moves toward the personal.

1. Tell them what kind of relationship you’re interested in. This should be the first sentence and it will begin to thin the herd. For example, “I am a woman (or man…make this work for you) who is looking for a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship with man of spiritual and emotional depth.” That will chase off some “players,” and that’s a good thing.

2. Tell them who you are. The previous few paragraphs spoke to this. You’re starting to go deeper.

3. Lay out your basic “must haves” and “can’t stands.” It might say, for example, “I’d love to be in a relationship with a person who is financially stable, wants children and is a devoted Christian. I am not interested in being with someone who smokes, is a partier, or leads a sedentary life.”

4. Describe your relationship vision. This is the most personal part of the profile and it should express your heart’s deepest desire of what you dream of experiencing in intimacy. At this point, there are very, very few left in the herd, which is exactly what you want.

5. Wrap it up by inviting them to contact you if they completely resonate with what you’ve written, and then state your policies of interacting with people on-line. For example, this is what I recommend my female clients say: “If you resonate with everything in my profile, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll look at your profile and if I feel a connection as well, I’ll send you my phone number. I’m not interested in wasting time emailing and texting. I’m too busy for that. Let’s talk on the phone and if that goes well, we’ll meet for a ½ hour at a local coffee shop and take it from there. Thank you for taking the time to read my profile. All the best, (your first name.)”

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is definitely true when it comes to on-line photos. In other words, your pictures speak volumes about you (maybe more than what you’ve written), so this needs to be thought through.

Both men and women should have a least two pictures on their on-line page. The first should be a very clear head shot. Let them see your face, not from a distance or in a group with poor lighting, but in a single, up-close head shot. The second should be a full-body photo taken in clothes that allow someone to see the basic shape of your body. (Not too revealing though. More about that in a minute). If you want to have other photos of you with your friends, your dog, your kids, etc., fine. But you must have these two photos and they must be extremely recent. You should put up new photos every three months. If you show up for your first meeting and you don’t look like your photos, it’s over.

The law of attraction says, “like attracts like,” and this is true of your photos. If you’ve got a lot of photos of you partying with your friends, you’ll attract a partier. Now, maybe you are a partier, so just think this through. And if you’re looking for a relationship that is about much more than sexual chemistry then don’t put provocative pictures on your profile.

It’s always amazing to hear a woman say she’s being contacted by guys who only want “one thing” and then you see that her page has a picture of her in a bikini and other half-naked photos! Make sure your pictures match you and your relationship vision.

As for you men, would you please stop taking pictures of yourself in the mirror?! If you want to meet the woman of your dreams, put a little effort into it. Show her that you’re not a cheap-ass and get some decent photos made of you.

The important thing for both men and women is to have your pictures accurately and authentically express who you really are. Don’t present an image that you think the man or woman of your dreams wants to see. Be yourself. If you’re the kind of guy who wears a Pittsburg Stealers jersey all the time, then put that picture up there. Don’t wear a suit. And ladies, if you’re a dress-to-the-nines kind of woman, then have your pictures reflect that. (Note to “Jersey Guy”: Don’t contact dress-up girl!)

Roy Biancalana
Author & Relationship Coach

Author's Bio: 

Roy Biancalana is an author and relationship coach who focuses on supporting people who wish to meet, date, fall in love with and marry the love of their lives. For more information, visit his website at or call him at 407-687-3387