Online dating can be something of a minefield, particularly when it comes to writing your online profile. What photo should you use, is it best to be honest about what you're looking for in a date, should you be funny or play it straight? Here are five things NOT to do...
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Don't #1: Lie about who you are
When you're behind a screen, it can be tempting to embellish the truth or try to make yourself sound more interesting (like saying you're into keep fit, when the only time you jog is if the chip shop is about to shut). Giving an accurate portrayal of who you are, and what you like to do, is the best way to find your ideal match. Besides which, you're only setting yourself up to fail.
Don't #2: Use a profile picture more than a year old
The same goes for your profile picture. One of the most frequent complaints about online dating is the number of men and women who look nothing like their photos.
Top tip: choose a photo taken in summer. Research from Match.com found that people in summery pics are seen as more attractive than winter ones. Action shots that demonstrate you hiking or playing your guitar also get more messages. Go back through your Facebook holiday album – just make sure it was from last summer, not a decade ago.
Don't #3: Be vague or a cliché
It's a good idea to check out the competition (if you're a woman, read through the profiles or others women on the site) but don't make the mistake of sounding like everyone else. Even if you do like roaring fires and candlelit suppers, leave it out. Generalisations, such as, "I'm equally happy going out or staying in with a movie," make you sound boring.
If you enjoy reading, name your favourite author or last book that you read. If you like to travel, what's your favourite country? If you like watching live music, what's the best band you've seen recently? Being specific is a much better conversation-starter – and who knows, someone might be reading your profile who loves the same author, band or travel destination as you. The more specific you are, the more unique and interesting you seem.
Don't #4: Come across as hard to please
It's perfectly acceptable to say what you're looking for in a date, but avoid being overly prescriptive. You might want a non-smoker who enjoys keeping in shape, but saying that you want them to be into folk music, sci-fi movies and Japanese food is a bit much.
Likewise, avoid expressing your pet hates. You might have been disappointed in the past, but no one wants to feel that they're being judged or not good enough. Saying that "arrogant men" or "clingy women" need not apply makes you sound unpleasant.
Don't #5: Don't take yourself too seriously
Most people are looking for someone with a good sense of humour. While you want to show off your most positive attributes and qualities, a dose of humility goes a long way. If your profile manages to make someone laugh, you're off to a great start.