Gone are the days of “boy meets girl.” These days, a more likely scenario is “boy likes girl’s profile, girl lurks through boy’s pictures, boy flirtatiously messages girl.”

Who doesn’t have a friend with a great online dating story? Whether awkward, scary, sexy or dreamy, one thing’s for sure: Online dating has gone from the secret hobby of a few to the preferred dating method for many.

The allure of online dating is obvious. It’s accessible, fast and exciting. But let’s be frank—online dating isn’t any fairytale. It’s a game of blind dates.

There are a lot of factors that students should be privy to before playing. Lucky for you, the Xpress is willing to spill the inside details on digital love.

First off, don’t be ashamed of online dating.

Online dating used to be stigmatized as a matchmaker for the spinster, the pervs, the lonely or all of the above. Logic told us that if we were cool and attractive, we would be able to find love face-to-face.

Those insecurities are no longer relevant. Online dating has diversified into a home for those looking for quick hookups, adventurous outings, casual flirting and the ever-elusive long-term relationship. According to OkCupid analysts, the peak age for online dating is now 24 years old, meaning you and others like yourself are seeking.

Don’t go and sign up for everything though. Only certain sites or apps will suit your dating preferences. Local? Gay? Pet lover? Farmer? Whatever kind of relationship or interaction you’re looking for, there’s a website for you. If there isn’t, start looking for investors. You probably have a startup on your hands.

Next, beware of profile deception. Everyone wants to present their best self for potential suitors. Some take that opportunity and run, faking everything from photos to personal information, and others build a house of white lies. “I’m a 23-year-old computer engineer in San Jose.” Really, because your lack of chest hair and bathroom selfies tell me you’re 17.

Profiles that are ambiguous, selfies in dark lighting and multiple excuses for not Skyping are some dead giveaways that a person is lying.

Once you’ve gotten over the initial embarrassment, have found the right online dating host and connect with what seems like a honest human, you’re ready for a rendezvous outside the confines of the internet.

Always decide to meet up in a busy, public place. If you’re going straight for a hookup, make sure you text a friend your whereabouts throughout the night, and definitely use a condom. If your date doesn’t look remotely like the person in the pictures, you should either leave or confront them about it.

Be aware that most dating sites aren’t geared toward connecting soulmates. This after all, is a blind date and matched interests can’t guarantee a perfect date. Some dates won’t have promise, others will but will lead to nothing.

But that’s the joy of online dating. When you come home from a bad date, tired and weary, you update your profile and get back in the game.

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Xpress Staff

Xpress Staff