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Going to bars isn’t working, the gym isn’t faring that much better, and that friend of a friend that your brother set you up with turned out to be the jerk that you suspected him to be in the first place. And so, you’ve put your cynicism to one side and signed up for an online dating website, but let’s be honest… you’ve got no idea what you’re doing.

Not to worry, we’ve teamed up with our friends over at IllicitEncounters.com, who have specialised in online dating for well over a decade, to bring you the Top Ten Golden Rules to online dating.

  1. Be honest with yourself

What do you want? What do you really want? Tall, dark, handsome? Rich, successful, older? Procure a list and figure out your red lines – what are you willing to sacrifice, and what’s an absolute must-have? Now’s not the time for compromise, so set yourself some ideal, but realistic, expectations. True happiness never came from cutting corners.

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  1. Really be honest with yourself

There are few things worse in the world of online dating than meeting Adam, the 6ft 3, well-built, gym enthusiast, to find that he’s a few inchers shorter, a few pounds heavier, and his salary has one less digit in it. But hey, just because Adam’s been a bit of a jerk (sorry, Adam) doesn’t mean you should be, too. Sure, maybe you’re not totally comfortable in your own skin, but if you’re gonna start a relationship based on a lie, is there much of a point of starting one at all? Oh, and just because you want hiking once as part of a Duke of Edinburgh certificate doesn’t qualify you to classify that as a hobby.

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  1. Post a recent photo

Sure, you might have that one photo that you’re really happy with, but if it dates back to 2003, it might be best to leave it as a distant memory. Don’t be Adam.

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  1. Don’t say general things that mean absolutely nothing.

“I love music, hanging out with my friends, spending my family and listening to music.” I mean, yeah, but don’t we all? You’re not exactly standing out here. Highlight what makes you, you. Any unique interests and idiosyncrasies are more than welcome on your profile.

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  1. Be confident

“I’ve been told I’m nice, I guess I’m not that good looking and I’m not the best in social situations.” Yeah, I wouldn’t go out with that guy either. This isn’t the time for self-loathing, ladies. Honesty is great, but so is confidence. You wouldn’t date a shy, overly modest and meek guy, so don’t expect someone to want to date you either.

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  1. Privacy is key

The last thing you need is a facetime from Adam (my ex was called Adam, can you tell?) at 1.30am who ‘just wants to chat’. An email is fine, but keep your cards fairly close to your chest early on. A phone number, Facebook and home address aren’t details that he needs to know. Not yet.

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  1. Make a move

If you’re sat around waiting for every man and his dog to message you, you might be waiting a while. It’s time to brush off the antiquated idea that guys’ text first. See a guy you like? He won’t know until you tell him, so tell him. You’re both adults, after all.

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  1. Talk to more than one guy at a time

There’s a saying about killing many birds with a solitary stone, and that’s certainly fine to do here. There’s no need to be exclusive just yet, so learning to juggle a few guys at a time is key. Just be sure not to mix up their names.

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  1. Take things slow

So you’ve met and the chemistry is electric, but don’t get too hasty. If he starts inviting himself round for ‘coffee’ (yeah, right) anytime soon, you need to prove early on that you can say no. Go for casual dates in public places. Meet for coffee (a real one, not the other kind), go for a meal, watch a film, and only when YOU are ready do you take things further. Patience is a virtue, so they say.

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  1. Break it off

If you come across an Adam and things aren’t going well, don’t force it. A gentle breakup early on is A LOT better than a messy disintegration of your relationship a few months down the line.

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