Best online dating sites and advice

If you're single, now is the right time to find that special someone to keep you warm in the winter months ahead. Below is some dating advice along with dating sites to help you in your search for love.

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Be yourself. Sounds obvious but if you start bigging yourself up into something you're not you'll fail miserably. If you get rejected, don't take things personally, they don't know you. If someone doesn't reply or says "no thanks" step away from the keyboard and move on.

Stay safe
Don't give out your phone number in the first message, swap a few emails first and trust your gut instincts. Make sure to tell your friends where you are going and to meet somewhere public.

First date
Avoid over-doing the booze. Sure, the odd glass of wine may help you relax, but we all know about beer goggles. Do you really want to do something you'll regret when you have nothing in common? Ideally, stick to a quick coffee or something activity-based (something you're passionate about) for the first outing.

Below, are the dating sites themselves....

This site's biggest strength is that it's free, which means it's got a huge membership database, guaranteeing lots of possibilities. It's easy to build a profile, and the quality of members as well as the quantity has also improved over recent years. Its downside is that the site design is a bit dated compared to other dating sites, and the fact that it's free may put more discerning users off.

FitLads and Gaydar
Two of the main sites catering for the gay dating market, Gaydar is for gay men and women, FitLads is just for men. They're definitely doing something right, as in 2009 FitLads topped the dating review league, and Gaydar came third. Both sites are relatively cheap (compared to the straight paid-for dating sites), and easy to use. But if you're easily offended stay away, as there can be sexual content and nudity.

Guardian Soulmates
Not just for lefties, the Guardian newspaper dating site is used by a cross-section of singledom society. With profiles trying to outdo each other in the witty stakes, there's stiff competition. However most of the users seem genuine and wanting more than a fling.

Dating Direct
This site is well designed, with lots of tools such as video chat to help in the search for that special someone.

Stands out from other dating sites as your profile needs to be written by a friend (bribe them well!). Which means there is added humour in most profiles, but the only downside is the lack of tools for members to use.

Go to AOL Living for advice on first-date nookie and to sign-up for Dating Direct.
Have you had a memorable date from an online dating site? Share your experience with others.