This is the internet age. We google for everything: before making a purchase or visiting a new restaurant or buying the lowest priced air ticket. Most of us conduct extensive research to make sure we are reviewing every available option before making a choice.  Similarly, in our personal lives, each of us is consciously or unconsciously looking for a soul mate.  Traditionally people would meet at bars, night clubs, parties or through friends but now we want more information about the person before we even meet him or her.  And hence in the past 15 years or so, online dating has taken off. Why not ?? It provides you with an endless supply of potentially single people who are looking to date.

Online dating is not very popular in Pakistan , in fact, you don’t talk about dating over there. You date and hope nobody finds out. Of course there are some modern elites who are able to do it openly but generally it’s not an acceptable behavior.  I dated a few men in Pakistan who were mostly friend of a friend. Men in Pakistan tend to get married early in life so by the time I turned 35 very few eligible single men were left in my social circle. And hence my dating completely came to a halt. So around this time I visited a friend in UK and she introduced me to the online dating world. At first I was skeptical and like the majority of people thought that online dating is a last resort for desperadoes and creeps ( by the way they still think that back in Pakistan) .  Anyway, at that time I did not take it seriously and to be honest did not think a Pakistani man on online dating site would be of my standard.

To cut the long story short, when I moved to US in 2014 I was 42 .  I quickly signed up on Match.com and waited for a miracle to happen.   My profile was focused on meeting only East Indian, Pakistani men who lived close to Pasadena area ( because that’s where I was living at that time).  I posted some nice decent pictures of me in conservative western clothes … And boy did I get attention.  Within days my inbox was full of emails from all kinds of men who were quick to inform me that they had 180 fruit trees in the Hollywood Hills house or 500 acres of farming land in India and the list goes on.  I had to tweak my profile several times and included open to Caucasian men and dedicated one year to the site before I met my husband Chris.

Online romantic world is a lot of work. Answering messages, setting your filters, sorting through profiles and going through a mandatory checklist of what you think you are looking for. People take these parameters very seriously for e.g. I wrote in my profile “no tattoos please” Not because I have anything against people with tattoos but because I respect my body and was looking for somebody with a similar perspective. Making things clear in the beginning sets expectations for the person reading your profile and helps to filter people who are not your type. I believe it’s important to set parameters if you are looking for a committed relationship.  Of course, the most important factor people rely on most when pre selecting a date is looks …. So make sure to upload pictures that compliments you.

Chris and I had a 4 months courtship period and ultimately we realized we are compatible and decided to get married. So here is the crux of my online dating experience. Use these tips to help navigate the online dating world. If you are patient and honest, you may end up with your soul mate like I did.

  1. DON’T BE SHY ! Statistically online dating is the best way to find somebody as you are exposed to the greatest number of people.
  2. Choosing the right online dating site: Free dating site like Tinder or OK Cupid is a good place to start if you are new to online dating. The biggest drawback of a free site is that it attracts people who are not necessarily looking for a serious relationship. These sites also have limited functionality which hinders in the way of finding your match. In my experience, if you are looking for a serious lasting relationship then go to a paid site like Match.com or E-Harmony etc. People on paid sites are making a financial commitment to look for a serious relationship and the biggest advantage is security. Subscribers are identified and found via their credit card details and so it makes for a much safer online dating experience.  Also paid sites help you search for your match using several parameter like age, location, religion etc.
  3. Profile : Keep your profile short and sweet. Ask your friends what are the things they admire most about you and then write it on your profile. Don’t write what you think is your best asset. For me it was the ability to make people laugh. You can’t get away with lying in your profile. A lot of people post old photographs of themselves or sometime they post pictures of random good looking people pretending to be their own. If someone has posted only one picture, ask them for more. And you can usually tell if it’s an old scanned picture or a digital one. I also suggest don’t upload overly sexy pictures of yourself. Avoid disclosing too much about yourself on your profile. Once you get to know someone well, you can gradually release more information to that person .  Set your parameters like : Education level; Income level; Kids or no kids; Mention if you are looking to settle down or just looking for fun; location as you don’t want to be driving 50 miles to visit your date and so on and so forth.
  4. Privacy & Security :  Don’t give personal information (address, full name, your work place address etc) to anyone until you know the person well enough, trust your intuition ! Try and stick to the messenger on the dating site for as long as you can before sharing your mobile number.  Because sometime there are creeps out there who will troll and text you if you reject them. Always drive yourself, and meet in a public place like a coffee shop for the first meet up. And make sure to tell a friend or family member where you are going .
  5. Rejection: Be prepared to being rejected ! It took me by surprise when the first time I got rejected. I actually went into depression for a few days but then I realized that’s what I am doing too …  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. They could want someone who is a different age or lives in a different region. Be patient and keep at it !
  6. Manage online dating like a project while having fun!  Narrow down your focus and don’t waste time on things which could become problem in the future. For e.g. if you want kids, mention it on your profile and don’t try to contact someone who says he/she doesn’t want kids. It helps you go through  a lot of profiles in a short time and narrow it down to the few you’d like to meet.  Don’t hesitate to google your potential dates. Search Google, Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter by writing your potential date’s name, mobile number, work place or even email address…. Whatever information you have. You can learn a lot. Be wary of people who do not have any online footprint. Ask open ended questions and be honest about yourself.
  7. The end game: For some men and women there is no end game….. Internet dating ends up becoming a  sport for them. Always ask your potential match as to how many years they have been on the site. Some sites even let you see it on their profiles.  If someone is on the site for more than 5 years , be very careful. With so many options, it becomes difficult for a lot of people to settle down and they keep searching for a better option, a perfect option….. In real world, there is no perfect option. Your soul mate may not love skiing like you do but they may love everything else about you .