If it’s been a while since you ventured into the dating scene, you may not be very familiar with online dating and how it works. It can be a bit of a minefield if you don’t know what you are doing, so to make it a little easier to navigate, we’ve put together some top tips to help you on your way.

It can be daunting, and it may not be as easy as you think, but with a bit of time and patience, there is no reason why you can’t find the perfect partner.

“Finally, niche dating sites may be ideal for those looking for specific qualities in a dating partner.” For example, Adult Friend Finder might be a very good decision for your new dating endeavours.

Here are 6 online dating tips for newbies.

Be transparent about what you want in a partner

Before you commence down this path, you must recognize that everyone is looking for different things in a partner. Many people are looking for a long-term relationship, while others don’t want anything serious. You will also come across people who are only looking for a bit of fun – aka a one-night stand.

It’s essential that you are transparent from the outset, or you could end up matching with someone who has very different needs and wants to yours.  Be honest and open, and it will reduce the time you waste searching for someone who doesn’t match your criteria.

Don’t filter your photos

You may look twenty years younger with a Snapchat filter, but the reality is that it isn’t what you look like in real life, so what is the point? Natural, unfiltered photographs will be far more appealing and will also reduce the chances of your match not recognizing you when you turn up for your first date!

It’s also a good idea to add one or two full-body shots when creating your profile. For many people, a physical connection is just as important as an emotional and intellectual one. Everyone has a type, so although it may feel a little odd and somewhat shallow, it’s better to show your full figure than post a catalog of headshots.

Are you being catfished?

Catfishing is rife on dating sites, so it’s something to be on the lookout for. Whether it be to relieve boredom or mess with people’s heads, there are people out there who spend much of their time pretending to be someone else. Catfishing can lead to a host of emotions, upset, and time-wasting so learn how to spot the signs and do some extra leg work if needs be.

If, for example, your latest match is a drop-dead gorgeous doctor with an array of amazing photos, you may be being taken for a ride – especially if it’s a free dating app. They may, of course, be who they suggest, but you need to be realistic and consider how likely that is. If you have been chatting for a while and have exchanged numbers, a great way to find out is to use the reverse phone lookup function on https://www.truthfinder.com/. It has a reverse phone number lookup function that allows you to search the identify the owner of a telephone number by the digits alone. It’s a great way to weed out any time-wasters and protect yourself while doing so.

Meeting in public

If you match with someone and agree to meet, make sure you do so in a public place. You may have met the most charming person on earth, but the bottom line is that you have no idea who they are or what their intentions may be.  

Tell a friend where and when you are meeting and text them periodically during the date to let them know how it’s going. If you get on well and they ask you to go to their house for a coffee, you may be tempted to say yes, but you should listen to that inner voice and decline until you know more about them. Online dating can be exciting and fun, but it can also be dangerous if you let your guard down.

Talk on the phone before meeting

Many people prefer texting to calling, but it’s wise to chat on the phone a few times before arranging to meet. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they react to questions, how bubbly they are, and how confident they appear to be just from their voice, so it makes sense to chat first. Someone may seem friendly and bubbly by text but have an aggressive or dominating manner in person so, a phone call could save you lots of time and effort.

If a potential connection asks for your phone number straight away, it’s better to be hesitant at first until you get to know them. There are many scammers and weirdos out there who would love nothing more than to send you explicit photographs or try to hack your social media accounts, so be cautious and do things in your own time.

Not all dating sites are the same

There are loads of dating sites to choose from, and each has its own set of rules. Plenty of Fish and Badoo, for example, allow people to message you even if you have not matched. This benefits people who prefer to read messages than actively search for potential matches. Sites like Tinder and Bumble use the more traditional method of swiping left or right depending on whether someone takes your fancy or not. 

Bumble is particularly good for women as it doesn’t allow men to make the first move. Women have to message their match within 24 hours of a mutual connection, which means that you can match with someone, but if you change your mind, there’s no awkwardness, and the match will simply expire.

If you want to meet someone you know is deadly serious about meeting their soul mate, paid sites such as Match.com or Elite Singles might be what you are looking for. They aren’t cheap, but the time you will save not having to weed out time-wasters could justify the cost.