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While online dating has become ubiquitous, it's still tricky to navigate. And even though each of the many dating apps available comes with its own set of rules, features, and terms, there are some universal rules you should follow to have a better experience.  Let's review some of the biggest errors that everyone should avoid while looking for a match online. It's easy to get sucked into excitement when you connect with someone who catches your fancy on a dating app. But it's important to remember that users can easily fake their information and pictures on their dating profiles. At best, this is a lie to attract more people. At worst, you could fall victim to an online dating scammer or even get into an unsafe physical situation.  Be smart and don't let yourself get into a bad scenario. Talk with potential matches for a while before you agree to meet them in person. Ask to talk with them on a video call, or at least on the phone, before you meet up. If they make excuses for why they can't, that's a sign of a fake dating profile.  If you do agree to meet up, make it in a public place where you have ways to exit if needed. Don't meet at your house, their house, or a remote location. Transport yourself to the site of the date so you can leave when you wish. It's also smart to let your family or trusted friends know where you're going, and roughly how long you'll be there, so they're aware if something seems off. You should also avoid drinking too much on a date, which makes you vulnerable.  Be sure to protect your privacy on your dating profile, too. Consider using an alternate email address or google voice number to keep your real information hidden. Don't reveal your full name to people before you've gotten to know them. Hopefully, you never run into someone who's using online dating to find victims, but it's a real threat you can't ignore. These tips are even more important if you're using a free service, where the barrier to entry is low.

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Using phony pictures the top photo on your dating profile is the first way that people see you. It's important to make it awesome so that potential matches are intrigued and want to know more.  While using blurry photos or pictures with multiple people in them is bad, you can go too far in the other direction, too. Doctoring your photos or using the single best picture of yourself isn't a fair representation of who you are. If you spend hours in photoshop to create the perfect set of pictures to hide your flaws, what is your date going to think when they see the real you? Don't use outdated photos, either. If your favorite picture of yourself is 10 years old, that's not a good snapshot of who you are today. Ask a friend to take a few pictures of you with your smartphone camera, or look through pictures you've taken while doing your favorite activities. People who are looking for a companion on dating websites want to see an honest representation of you.  The best profile photo is one that shows you as you naturally are. Have a variety, such as a headshot, a full-body shot, and a picture of you doing something that you love. If someone sees those and doesn't have any interest, they aren't the one for you anyway.  If your photos need a boost, check out the best profile picture tools. Lying on your profile it's easy to hide the truth in your pictures, but lying on other parts of your profile isn't wise either. One of the basic tips of online dating is to fill out your profile; a blank page doesn't give potential matches enough to go off when they're evaluating you.  But when you do this, you should answer prompts honestly and don't fudge the facts. If you're a little overweight, don't claim that you're slim. Don't pretend to enjoy certain activities if you despise or haven't even tried them. Lying isn't a good foundation for any relationship, and eventually, these falsities will come out.  The right person will love you not just because of traits they like about you, but despite your flaws. What's more, something you hate about yourself (perhaps freckles, the way you laugh, or your passion for 1950s movies) could end up being something your match loves about you.  Don't try to disguise who you are; it's exhausting and will waste both of your time. Sending boring or creepy messages. So you've finally found someone whom you find attractive and you want to send them a message. This is another critical step that's easy to screw up. The best advice is to come up with something they haven't heard a hundred times already.  Starting a conversation with "Hey" or "What's up?" is boring and shows that you put about two seconds of effort into it. Don't introduce yourself with a five-paragraph writeup that goes into way too.  

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