Dos and don39ts for online dating

For those of you on the fence about or new to the online dating scene, the Contra Costa Times has published a great introductory article about online dating.

Online dating can be a great tool for broadening your options as long as you are smart, are cautious and take some very important safety steps.

Page 1 2 3 For years, online dating seemed to carry a stigma around with it and couples who met online told edited versions of their "how we met" story.

But now, as people are spending more time than ever connecting online, looking for and meeting a potential mate online has become a normal part of our everyday lives.

So how do you enjoy and profit from this brave new world?

Well, there are eleven simple dos and don'ts that will help you to maximize your online experience and, hopefully, have you on the way to finding your perfect match.

Most Internet personal ads and profiles are unlimited in terms of words once you've paid your membership fee but you shouldn't use this freedom to blather. Think about who you are and what makes you unusual, and list both your successes and your failures. No moonlight strolls, walks in the park, or, 'I'm a true romantic'; these descriptions of yourself are meaningless, overused, and silly.

Remind yourself that a very focused intent is time-saving, practical, and useful, so be thoughtful and specific.

Posting a photo will increase the number of responses increases dramatically.

Be sure that the photo you select is actually you and, equally as important, fairly recent.

Avoid flattering shots because you want very little discrepancy between the picture and what you really look like.

And don't post any pictures of yourself with your arm around anyone of the opposite sex - a picture with a friend is also a mixed message.