By Claire Bahn
Online dating is not easy -- in fact it can be quite intimidating. To even get in the game, you need to write a witty profile, answer a personality and interest questionnaire and post a picture.
It's not cheap either, many sites claim to be free, but that's only to search their site and see what's available. To actually contact someone on the site, it usually costs $20-25 a month. For most people the average length of their subscription is around 3 to 4 months. Within those 3 to 4 months, subscribers either find someone interesting to date or become so disillusioned that they quit the service.
"It should be in color and well lit, with minimal shadow on a light background."
Given that online dating is an investment in your future love life, you need to make the most out of it. There is only one tried and true way to increase your responses (whether those responses be from emails, "winks", or instant messages): post a great looking picture.
To be clear, I'm not advocating doing crazy retouching to make you look 10-20 years younger. The picture must be an accurate representation of you, now. This is critical. If you're one of those few folks who can't face reality, (i.e., you have your high school graduation picture online even though you graduated 30 years ago and you see nothing wrong with that), please stop that practice right now. That's dating fraud and it's just plain dumb. The first time your prospective date sees you, he or she will know you're a fibber.
The most important thing about the picture you post online is that it needs to look like you really look. Think of how you are going to look on your first date. Will your date recognize you from the picture?
Do yourself and your potential dates a favor and post a recent photo. Otherwise, you're wasting your time as well as your date's. Most people are attracted to someone initially by the way you look. Therefore, if you misrepresent yourself, you may get a first date, but you certainly won't get a second one.