Online Dating

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Friendly interaction is good protection against porn addictionHere are tips from a recovering user, who found a sweetheart:

Hello friends. I was sitting here by the the fireplace with the air conditioning cranked contemplating dating websites. Earlier this month I wrote a short blog on how dating websites are similar to porn. That sparked something of a debate regarding the efficacy of dating websites and about dating in general, which I found very valuable. After some feedback I've decided to take out some pearls of wisdom, make 'em real shiny, and share them with y'all.

First things first, this is a post for people who are ready to date no matter what step you are in in the process of quitting pornography or in board parlance "P/M/O" porn, masturbation, orgasm. Dating an actual person is very important in the process of quitting porn and attempting to try new ideas for relating. We don't have to "Go it Alone." Women who are dating online are the best teachers in this area of inquiry.

Dating advice is a thorny issue. In my opinion there are a lot of people making impossible claims about how if you buy their book or DVD they'll turn you into "a sexual tyrannosaurus." I make no such claims. I just want to give you a few ideas and hopefully you will take action on your own behalf and learn for yourself how to date online (or anywhere else) using such an old fashioned concept as trial-and-error. Take or leave my recommendations.

Choose a Dating Website or 3

Lots of us, at one time or another, have thought about dating online but haven't quite got up the nerve to try it. There are many types of dating websites catering to various people and interests. Choose the websites that have 1. Large numbers of members and 2. Are free or at least inexpensive. The dating websites I have been using are first and foremost Match.com (the largest dating website), OkCupid an excellently designed free dating website, and lastly PlentyofFish a poorly designed site with nearly pornographic ads (you are forewarned). But it is also free and has a large membership.

A website to avoid is eHarmony: They openly excluded homosexuals until a class action suit forced them to change. They are also more or less openly trying to find conservatives who want to get married. Great if that's you, but I don't support bigotry or Christian fundamentalism. (http://www.protectconsumerjustice.org/sex-lies-and-internet-dating-sites...)

This should be a no brainer but you should also scrupulously avoid anything like Craigslist personal ads or other "hookup" sites like Adult Friend Finder. For the most part you will meet people who are desperate for a lay, or who want to swap money for sex, either professionals or amateur ladies looking for "sugar daddies." Hope this one isn't a hard sell but this *won't help you* find someone who is ready to take a step back from "goal oriented" sex towards a more generous sexual sharing. So, off limits!

Photos

Now that you have chosen a few websites, you need to get some good pictures. PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY: I cannot overstate the importance of your photographs. You *need* good photos. This means looking up that friend of yours who went to photography school and ask what she charges for a couple hours of her time. You should have *at least* 8 photographs of yourself in various settings. I think Match allows you to upload around 15...but you don't need *that* many. You will use the same photos on all three sites. This lets people see who you are and what you look like - a prerequisite of meeting someone in real life. In short, for best results, you need a GREAT HEADSHOT. Nothing else will do.

Next in importance to a GREAT HEADSHOT is another GREAT HEADSHOT or simply a good representation of your face from a different angle/setting/lighting. I like a good night shot with flash. Pics with dark backgrounds look cool and there's less clutter in the image...just your mug. Make sure you are dressed GQ, or whatever the totems are for your tribe. Are you into punk rock? Dress to the nines in punked out gear. Then someone takes your picture at night. I know you can put something classy together and if you aren't certain what that is, try on some outfits and ask women their opinions. In any case, being friends with a helpful lady can make a huge difference in your outlook.

Take a look at some profiles of your favorite real women as they appear on one of these websites. How would you rate her pictures? Are they a good representation? Do they leave a good impression on you? Is she wearing flattering clothes no matter what her body type? Does she have at least one photo that makes clear what her body type is? Now compare your favorite woman's profile with your own. You should have everything that she does, including a pic of you far enough back so browsing women can see your body type. It really matters less than you think so don't be shy, this is just being honest. If the quality of your profile pics are inferior to your favorite online crush in some way, why would she want to date you? You are just leveling the playing field for the type you are trying to date.

You should also, GASP, look at the profiles of other men. Go ahead and look man. It's cool. You will see some guys who clearly did not take the time to get good pics. Pay attention to the profiles of men who *did* think about and prepare their profile. You may even find yourself being jealous of them. Put that energy into how you are going to improve your own profile and steal liberally from anyone who has a good idea.

There's some debate if you are guy whether or not you should smile. Ask women you know to rate your photo. Also add your pic to HotorNot.com (again don't be shy - it's only the internet) and let them rate what they think looks best. I was surprised that the photos I thought were the best weren't always highly rated by women. In fact, in my highest rated photos I tended not to smile, I was not looking at the camera. In some I was doing something related to who I am and my goals in life. (I was playing guitar.) You might look great smiling, or you may want to look like you are someone who is thoughtful. Go ahead and smile if you think that's your best representation, but have other photos where you don't smile.

Be creative and think about how you want to project yourself. These things will tie in with what you have written in your profile. (I'll cover that in another blog entry.) Plan out where and when you want your pics taken. I had my friend meet me in lower Manhattan early one afternoon and we went around to various landmarks and shot some pics with me and my guitar. Some great stuff came out of that. I paid her $100 for her time and also bought lunch. It was a good deal.

Other pics you should include are you with friends. It doesn't matter who, man or woman, but it can't be corny. I advise against holding your baby nephew or niece. However, I get a lot of comments about the dog I live with and she's a positive association. Borrow your best friend's dog if you have to. I don't care if it's your pet reptile, bird, fish...have good pics of you and it together. We are social creatures and this shows something good about you: you take care of an animal, maybe you even *like* it. Walk up to ten random women and ask them if they "Like animals?" What do you think they will say? If you don't have a pet, go buy a goldfish, or even get a pic of you watering your plant. (Incidentally, these are also things that will ease some porn withdrawal symptoms...)

A friend's pic with another man who is obviously attractive should be avoided. He can go start his own profile. This one's about making YOU look your best. Funny photos and humor are terrific things, but take care not to give anyone who would want to date you an excuse to move on because of some corny photo of you that only you or your friends think is hilarious. There's a fine line between "quirky and fun" and "creepy" or "dumb." I am not a fan of these types of pics when I see women do them. I think it shows some immaturity. But hey, maybe they still want to date younger boys. Everyone thinks they are so funny with their photos. For now I advise just keep it simple.

There are other obligatory pics: you on vacation in Europe or you climbed a mountain and have a picture. Get it? These photos are of "You doing stuff," going to a ball game, using your carpentry skills, you drinking (but obviously not sloppy drunk. Remember you are always a *moderate* drinker if you drink at all ;-) ) All these types of pics are great and should tie in with your personality and individuality. Those qualities are what *separates* you from the herd. Remember your profile is an advertisement, there is no real competition out there because you are letting them know the things about you that make you *unique* and *different.* They will find you if they are into you.