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Ready to Try Online Dating?

First, write your profile. Your story is key to finding someone special

En español | Whether you're newly single and a bit rusty, or you have been dating for a while, you probably joined a dating website hoping to meet someone special. As an experienced online dater, I know it works. I also know that an appealing profile is critical.

See also: The man's guide to dating after 50.

So how do you make yourself appealing? Start fresh. Do not use a favorite old photo and a bio from a previous online attempt; that's not smart online dating.

AARP dating website helps seniors meet online- a mature woman creates her profile on the dating website

To make yourself appealing in an online dating profile — be the person you want to meet. — Jed & Kaoru Share/Blend Images/Getty Images

The Photo
Professional photographs aren't necessary, but posting a cellphone photo taken at arm's length isn't cool, and using an old photo never makes for a pleasant surprise when you meet a date. Have a friend take photos, and don't wear sunglasses or a hat, or stand in shadows. Headshots work, but a potential date also wants to see the rest of you. And smile. Your picture is the first item on your menu. Think appetizing.

Do the Work
A profile that consistently states "I'll tell you later" rather than supplying answers to relevant questions is frequently passed by, no matter how good-looking the person in the photograph. It suggests a lack of interest in the whole dating process. And a photo without an accompanying detailed story is likely to preclude anyone from selecting you thoughtfully. Less is not more.

Attention to Detail
While I notice a woman's photo first, I also enjoy reading her story describing her 50-plus years of living and loving life. The better written and complete, the more appealing the story is. Can't write well? Get help from a friend or coworker who can. And there's no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors. Be noticed for the right reasons.

What to Limit
Your political attitude, while valid, need not be intolerant. Stating you aren't interested in someone with political views 180 degrees different from yours is fine, but adding that you find the view repugnant is over the top. Insisting that a potential date be fit and in shape is fair, if you're fit and in shape. While opposites may attract, my dating experience jibes with nearly every expert's advice: Such relationships rarely work. Differences become bigger, not smaller. The more you have in common, the better, really.

Next Page: Tips to coming across as romantic and irrestistible. »

Open Hearts and Minds
You go to the head of the line when your profile displays an open heart and an interest in personal growth. A positive, wholesome attitude reflects good self-esteem, and youthful enthusiasm suggests that age is just a number for you. Be the person you want to meet.

Your Passions
Express your passions as activities you'd like to share. If you're a skier, and mention you have a ski rental, you'll attract passionate skiers. If exercise is an important part of your life and a physically active partner is a must, suggest hiking, bicycling, tennis or a long walk in the country as possible activities. Suggest a picnic afterward. Think romantic. Be irresistible.

Whether your passion is sailing, going to concerts, taking road trips, cooking, dancing, attending sporting events, motorcycling, playing an instrument, singing or engaging in any other activity that makes you smile when you talk about it, write about that passion in a manner reflecting how it would feel to share it with someone special. Be inclusive.

Instead of listing every place you've visited, pick a favorite and shoot an imaginary film of it with someone special. Paris is my favorite. My movie is strolling arm in arm with a sweetheart along the tree-lined Seine on a sunny spring morning, the Musee d'Orsay Impressionists, a late lunch at a sidewalk cafe and an afternoon of lovemaking. This is an ideal opportunity to script your perfect fantasy. Don't hold back. You'll make the right person smile. Sharing the details over coffee is even more fun.

Last But Not Least
No one is universally desirable, but if you present yourself thoughtfully, your odds for success increase exponentially. Your soul mate is a mouse click away. A smart, creative profile stands out. Give it the time and attention it deserves.

Ken Solin is an author, lecturer and blogger who writes on the topic of families, relationships, dating and more from the perspective of a 50-plus. He's been dating in the digital world since its inception, and he's gleaned what works and what doesn't. He chronicled 25 years working with men in Act Like a Man, his book that explains how to move men beyond their intimacy issues in relationships. He has written about relationships for the Huffington Post.

Published November 2012

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