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Set yourself up for success in the world of cyberdating
I admit that had someone advised me to try online dating almost 10 years ago, I would have dismissed it as an activity for people who don't have a life or are extreme introverts.

But in October 2013, I reconnected with a girl with whom I went to high school, and who now submits articles for blogs and freelances as a yoga instructor. I told her that I no longer go out as often as I did when I was in my 20s, when I'd sign up for writing workshops and even got to attend a book launch. So my friend suggested that I give online dating a try.

She recommended this particular site that gained popularity over recent years because you can set up a profile for free and, to a certain extent, control the potential matches that can send you messages. They even ask you to answer a series of questions that will help reveal your personality, attitude, dating and lifestyle preferences, and even issues based on faith, race, and culture.

The experience has mostly been enjoyable for me, and I met a couple of men and even a woman who are now my good friends and with whom I communicate on a daily basis through Facebook messenger.

If you're single, remember that online dating is just one of the options you can take if you hope to meet someone with marriage potential. But take a good amount of caution, because not all who frequent dating sites have the purest of intentions.

There's one thing that can play a crucial role to your success in attracting quality matches: your online profile. Here are several guidelines to help you:

Come up with an eye-catching headline and summary.

There are two general rules:

**Be yourself (this means staying true to your personality and temperament).
**Be honest about your tastes, preferences, hobbies, and interests.

There are many different kinds of singles out there, and I believe you should keep an open mind to the types that you might attract or to those to whom you'll be attracted.

However, calling yourself "an athletic, outdoorsy dude" or "a simple, friendly gal" does nothing to arouse interest in the minds of anyone browsing through your profile.

Now take a look at the following:

"A software engineer with a heart for our four-legged friends. Volunteers at a shelter during weekends. Won blue ribbons in the Quezon Memorial Circle Dog Show for three consecutive years."

"Creative cutie who knits and crochets scarves and sweaters seeks a companion that enjoys art exhibits and trips to museums."

See how dramatically those words were able to add "oomph!" to otherwise dull, boring personality descriptions? You can also play around with words that showcase your desirable character attributes, like --

"I'm a copywriter and photographer who blogs in my spare time. I have a wicked sense of humor and is adept at throwing witty one-liners that never fail to crack my friends up. Will treat you to a latté."

"A math whiz and competent tutor in algebra and calculus, I can also whip up a mean pesto and fettuccine alfredo. I'm taking up Italian lessons for a future trip to Venice or Milan. Could you be my fellow sojourner?"

Highlight your strengths.

An online dating profile is not a resumé, but I noticed that more often than not, men and women bluff to sound more impressive. You don't need to be like the high school kid who acts a certain way just to "get the girl" (or guy). There's a better way to present yourself without "inflating" your personal credentials. How? Downplay your weaknesses without denying them, but mention your other noteworthy qualities as well.

To illustrate, if you're not known as the best cook among your family or friends, briefly talk about the neighborhood block party that you helped organize, or the potluck dinner where you played sparkling host. This would emphasize your skills in organizing an event or public speaking and would make up for your lack of culinary expertise.

If you belong to a good number of men and women who are holding down jobs but have yet to finish a degree and you're wondering how you'll fare among potential matches who graduated from university, mention any future plans to include continuing education among your goals.

Determine your negotiables from your non-negotiables.

If you'd like to date with a serious relationship in mind that could possibly lead to marriage, be wary of anyone who has provided only vague descriptions about his or her job or career. This might be a "red flag" regarding a potential match's financial stability.

Another factor that could serve as a negotiable or non-negotiable is your willingness to relocate to a new place -- probably a different town or city, or even an entirely different country if you end up with someone from a different race or ethnicity.

Be upfront about your past, but discuss it sparingly.

This would be helpful for single men and women who have had a child or children from a previous relationship, or those with a history of substance or alcohol abuse but have now been completely sober and would like to get their lives back on track.

You don't need to provide a detailed explanation of your past relationship. One of the advantages of online dating is you can be completely honest about your status as a single parent and still be able to meet potential dates who would be willing to accept your past.

Maintain your life offline.

Avoid taking huge amounts of time away from what you already do just to see if people are checking out your profile. It's easy to get obsessive about every person that sends you a message. Strike a balance and manage your time online and offline.
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