Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am strongly considering getting into online dating. I even went so far as to start setting up a profile on one site the other night. Then I kind of panicked. I didn't know what kind of photos to put up or how to describe myself or what I'm looking for. What if I look boring on paper? I think I'm an interesting guy, but then I was sitting there typing how much I like bowling and "Duck Dynasty" and thought, what girl is going to like that?
Can a successful relationship really start this way? I am at a loss about how to take the plunge. But I'm tired of being alone and if I can find a cool woman this way, I'm willing to try it.
-- Single and Confused About How to Mingle
Wanda: Once upon a time, the online world was a secondary plane separate from real life. Well, times they are a-changin'. As more of our daily business and activity is conducted online, using it to also meet potential mates has grown increasingly acceptable, even normal. A Match.com study found 44 percent of adult Americans are single. That's more than 100 million adults. And, 40 percent are using online dating. Get in the game!
Yes, it's daunting at first. So many sites, so many profiles to sift through, and selling yourself on paper can be a struggle. Are you "average" or "carrying a few extra pounds." Are you "a dog person" or do you admit to those debilitating allergies?
Don't lie. Eventually you have to meet your potential partner, and the sales pitch has to match the goods to close the deal. Romance Reality Check, a company that does background checks for online daters, found men and women are generally dishonest about different things. Men lie about age, height and income. Women fib about their weight, physical build and age. Certainly this all ties back to fear and insecurity -- that we're neither too young, thin or rich, and we'll all end up alone.
Just remember: Your goal is to find someone at the very least for romantic companionship. So, as with any new relationship, start off in the right foot: with sincerity, honesty and good communication.
Wayne: A hundred million singles out there? So you're saying there's a chance ...
Listen buddy, if you are truly serious about finding a lover, a partner or anyone in between, online dating is the right move. You can leave the state of your love life to fate, or you can increase your odds and control your dating destiny (to some extent) by logging on.
I'll echo Wanda and say keep it real. You don't have to divulge your dirt -- save that for the fifth or sixth date -- but you should be real about who you are and who you are looking for. Packing a few extra pounds and losing your hair? Put it out there! Like short women who speak French and are looking for a long-term relationship? Type it up! Into "Duck Dynasty"? Well, maybe you should keep that one to yourself.
Online dating is a lot of work, and you're just wasting time if you aren't being honest with yourself and the people you're dating. Heck, even if you aren't exactly sure what you're looking for, you should be honest about that. A lot of singles feel that way.
It's a real bummer to spend two weeks getting to know someone online, then working up the nerve to meet them, only to show up and find you were sold a bill of not-so-goods. On the flip side, there are few moments more embarrassing than seeing the disappointed look on someone's face upon meeting you for the first time. There aren't enough boxes of wine at Costco to help you get over that shame.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.