- Do upload a picture you like. Remember, this is what most men will use to choose whether to even read your profile, or reply to your message. I used one of myself smiling. I'm not particularly photogenic, plus I pull ridiculous faces in most photographs, so I chose one where I look pretty normal, and approachable. It's the internet equivalent of smiling across a bar at a guy, so pick that kind of smile. Make sure it's one you're comfortable with and feel confident about.
- Do send the first message. If you've read a guy's profile, and think he looks great, it's totally fine to send the first message. By the time you're dating you'll probably have forgotten who messaged who first anyway. He might not have spotted you amongst the crowd, so give him a nudge to get yourself noticed. I think this works better than 'winking' or whatever the equivalent on the website you're on. Make sure to ask questions so he has a reason to reply!
- Do be yourself. Don't try to write formally, but let your personality out. Make the odd little joke, or respond to something they've said as you would in real life. It's better for them to get an idea of your personality before you meet.
- Do let him ask you on the date. This isn't very feminist, and it depends what kind of guy you are after, but I think if he isn't confident enough to ask me on a date and decide where we go, then he probably isn't confident enough to meet my friends, or put up with my tantrums. This should say 'Do ask her on the first date' for any men reading.
- Do check your messages before you send them. I know I'm a bit of a grammar nazi, being an English teacher and all, but I refused to reply to a man who couldn't write correctly. Obviously in real life, I'd have found this out later, but in online dating it's all too obvious. Some blokes even admitted they copy-and-pasted their messages into Word before sending them to me to check they hadn't made any mistakes. I guess they saw "English teacher" and knew I'd be marking it as I read it. Not everyone will be as picky as me about this, but do check through and correct any silly or glaring mistakes.
- Do have fun. Online dating can become a chore, particularly if you are messaging a lot of people. Try not to let it become something you 'have' to do. Perhaps limit the people you talk to, and don't be afraid to stop messaging someone if they're not your cup of tea. A short message explaining why is polite though if you have been messaging for a few.
- Don't give out your number/ ask for a number too soon. This is the internet equivalent of coming on too strong, or giving in too easily. The other person should work for your number, and you should feel some sort of chemistry before you give it out. Some men send it on the first message, and that just isn't on. Giving your number should be a pre-date thing, and of course, then it's more exciting when you do swap numbers.
- Don't add them on facebook before you've even met up. Facebook contains a huge amount of information, about both you and them. I have been put off guys by seeing their facebook, either because there are too many messages on their wall from girls, or they update their status too often. It's better just to keep it between the two of you before you've actually made contact.
- Don't talk to anyone who lives a million miles away. They may be hot, but you're setting yourself up to fail. The great thing about online dating is you can meet people locally. I would probably meet someone who lives an hour away, maximum. I was messaged by a give who lived in Liverpool, who was cute, but I said to him... what's the point? How often are we really going to meet up, and how could we have a relationship with this distance. I would ignore messages from too far away.
- Don't have other people in your photo. You'd be amazed to see how many people have a photo of themselves with a member of the opposite sex. I mean, really? Do I want to see your exes before I've even seen you? Of course not. Even if it isn't your ex, people will assume that it is. Just don't do it.
- Don't take the photo yourself. You should be in the photo alone, but actually taking the photo yourself in a mirror makes you look like you have no mates. If you can't find anyone to even take a photo of you, how isolated are you? Personally, I would ignore this kind of person.
- Don't take it personally. It's good to be messaging two or three people at once, because often a person will stop messaging halfway through a conversation without giving a reason why. Usually this will be because they met up with somoene they quite like (I did it when I met my fella... after one more date I'd lined up. Luckily for him, it went really badly). It could be because you're just not their type. Don't take it personally, they haven't even met you. It's also very easy to read things in the wrong way, but shit happens. Don't send apologetic emails or try to message them back. Keep your head held high and message someone else instead.
Good luck in the weird world of online dating, and let me know how you get on. It really is hilarious seeing the things some people say! If you've had any weird messages, leave them as a comment.