At the International Internet Dating Convention, held late last month in San Francisco, keynote speaker Evan Marc Katz, author of a book about online dating entitled I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book, offered a few pieces of advice some online dating enthusiasts might consider controversial.

For example, he said middle-aged women might have to fudge about their ages. “There’s an arbitrary cut-off point on ages on all the dating Web sites,” said Katz, “so if middle-aged women are honest about their ages, they often get very little response.

“It’s okay for a woman to shave a year or two off her age if her next birthday is going to put her into a different bracket. Staying 39 instead of turning 40 is okay, or calling yourself 49 instead of 51. It’s the only way women can get a fair shake in cyberspace.”

Katz also identified the five biggest turnoffs in Internet personal ads:

1. Spelling errors.

2. Profiles that sound just like everyone else.

3. Negativity in ads.

4. Incomplete essays.

5. Laundry lists of adjectives, activities, or physical specifications.

But the number one mistake people make with online dating, he said, is rushing into that first face-to-face meeting. “By scoping out the options on the phone beforehand, you weed out all the psychos. The more time you invest prior to the date, the more likely it will be a successful date. Go out with a total stranger and you might as well be on a blind date. Take a week to e-mail, talk on the phone and build up rapport. At the very least, if there’s no chemistry, you might end up with a new friend.”

Katz said that when he first started dating on the Internet, he wrote impersonal letters to dozens of women, “taking more phone numbers than a bathroom wall, and penciling in half-hour coffee dates three or four nights a week.” It’s not a coincidence that none of these women stayed in his life for more than a third date, he said.

Comparing looking for love online to job-hunting, he added that, “in a competitive market you need every edge you can get. A profile is the equivalent of a resume in that it’s the most important tool you have to make a first impression.”

The convention was sponsored by American Singles Education, Inc., a non-profit singles organization and The Relationship Exchange, an Edmonton-based network of private label online dating sites that work together and share a database of over three million active profiles.



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