Answers From an E-Dating Expert

Following is the first set of answers from Laurie Davis, the founder of eFlirt Expert. We are no longer accepting questions for this feature.

Is “Ms.” Davis successfully married? And if not, how does she qualify as an online dating expert?

— Posted by Serendipitous

I get asked my relationship status more than you can imagine. Some want to see that I’m in a relationship, and some want to see that I’ve “got game” and can play the field. I’m in a serious, committed relationship right now, but of course I had my fair share of fun dating experiences, too! Of course, my boyfriend and I met online. As far as my online dating expertise is concerned, you certainly don’t study the topic in a classroom!

I was a first adopter to online dating nine years ago and learned by doing. I “did” not only for myself, but for other people I knew who were either struggling with online dating or beginning and didn’t know where to turn. So when I started my company, I had years of experience and several success stories. I fuse my personal experience with my professional background in marketing to create the ultimate personal branding campaigns for singles.

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Why does everybody assume that the whole point of dating is marriage? Many of us have been there, done that, had the children, and now want to simply have some fun. Enjoying life and all it offers in the company of another person is an honorable goal! As an expert, please tell us of sites that seek to make this, rather than marriage, possible. And while you’re at it, a few pointers on how to articulate this intention with the dignity it deserves.

— Posted by Bob T.

You’re right, not everyone wants to date for the purpose of marriage — online or elsewhere. Most dating sites can be used for casual dating; it just depends on the settings you use for what kind of relationship you are seeking. For example, on OkCupid, you can choose to search for an activity partner or short-term dating match and leave off long-term dating partners. On JDate, you can choose to look for a date, friend and activity partner, but not marriage. This becomes not only an indicator to potential matches, but critical search criteria as well.

Casual dating can also be articulated in the overall tone of your profile and e-mail messages. For example, rather than saying you are looking for someone who will get along with your children, say you’re looking for someone who can make you laugh!

What is the best way to handle a situation where maybe three or four men look interesting. Do I decide on just one and move forward, or is it like job hunting — send out notes to all and see who responds and then go from there? I think I just figured out the answer, but I’d like to hear from you.

— Posted by Leila

Remember, you are marketing your single-self when you date online. You wouldn’t be creating a successful marketing campaign if you reached only one person at a time, would you? Since you’re communicating on e-mail time — not real time — you’re going to hear back from your matches in varying speeds. If you e-mail three people at the same time, one might respond right away, another might reply a week later and the third might not respond at all. That doesn’t mean it’s something you did — they might not be active on the site, may have recently started dating someone … or they might just not be that into you.

If you are continually sending out e-mail and not getting responses, you might want to revamp your profile or rethink what you’re saying in your e-mail. It could even be something as simple as the matches you are choosing!

Do you feel there’s any chance at all that online dating will work for a woman over 65? Especially for an intelligent, active, well-traveled, successful, attractive woman who doesn’t look or act her age. Should we leave out all that stuff and just try to appear “interesting,” so as not to potentially intimidate anyone?

— Posted by Just Me

Absolutely! I have several clients in their 60s. Please know that you are not going to put up a profile tonight and find your perfect match tomorrow, though. This is a challenge all online daters face, but it is particularly true for the older generation. Persistence is key when you are 45-plus, because the pool of singles is smaller.

Also, you have probably experienced many relationships in your 65 years. Make sure that your past experiences don’t leave you close-minded. Just because someone isn’t your type on virtual paper, that doesn’t mean you should write that person off. Until you get your online dating feet wet, keep an open mind and browse around.

I would like to add that the first woman who contacted me online tried to scam me. Google for “Internet love scams” and protect yourself from ambush.

— Posted by Blacklight

Frauds exist. Predators exist. But they live both in the real world and online. There are ways to keep up your virtual guard when you’re dating online.

• Always choose a unique user name that you don’t use anywhere else in your life. We all have digital footprints that go back to the beginning of our online existence. If you use an old AIM screen name or Myspace user name, your full name and digital past can still trace back to you with one mouse click.

• Never give a match money, ever. Paying for a date is one thing; sending money to someone in a “crisis” whom you haven’t met in real life is another.

• Keep your social media close. Don’t friend anyone you don’t know or friend matches before you meet/trust them. Whether you friend someone on Foursquare, Facebook or Twitter, you’re allowing that person access to track your behaviors.

• Always Google your matches. Once you have a match’s full name and have been out with that person, check him or her out online just to make sure that everything you know about that person lines up.

We are no longer accepting questions for this feature.

Most online dating sites charge for their services. Which ones are worth the money, and are there any free sites that are respectable?

— Posted by Patrick

A dating site is only as good as your matches on it. Each site has a different crowd of singles, so “worth the money” really comes down to joining the right site for what you’re seeking. BUT … many dating sites that charge a fee offer a free trial! You just need to know where to look. A few sites I would recommend that offer deals: offers a free three-day trial .
eHarmony is having a free communication weekend Feb 11-15. allows you to buy three months for the price of one. It has free weekends also, but its last offer just ended so the next probably won’t be for several months.
Make sure that you use your free trial wisely.
Free dating sites get a bad rap, but these days they actually aren’t all that bad. Check out OkCupid. It is a NY-based company and has a strong membership in the city.

Let’s say you meet someone and you don’t click, but you like the person and think they have potential if they could improve some behavior/social problem they have. Do you think it’s okay to suggest to them some advice that might help them on future dates? For example, I dated a nice guy but he was a lecturer. He was an “expert” on everything and would offer comments on every subject that came up, whether I wanted them or not. He was sweet and kind, but the constant conversation hogging was annoying. I always wondered if I should have told him that was why I couldn’t date him anymore, and I suspect it’s why his other relationships didn’t work. (He did make a comment once that his friends said something to him about his “know it all” behavior.)

— Posted by Kay

I truly believe that there is someone out there for everyone and that someone will love you just the way you are. That said, we all have traits that get on people’s nerves. I can definitely see how his might be extreme! You can say something to him, but only if you want to continue to date him. If he worked on it, would you still want to see him? If the answer is no, your suggestions won’t benefit anyone, not even future relationships. He won’t take your comments seriously if you are simultaneously telling him that you’re not interested.

Ms. Davis, with all of the women (and hopefully men) trying online dating in my zip code, what are your tips for setting up a profile that people will actually stop at and read? I think I am genuine, witty, photogenic… but this is like a whole new world. Thanks.

— Posted by M, Brooklyn

First, it’s about choosing the right site, which is totally dependent upon your personality and what you’re looking for. If I knew you better, I could advise here. I can say that a lot of Brooklynites I know are very happy with OkCupid.

Second, it’s about photos. Your main picture should be a clear head and shoulders shot where you are smiling. Upload 4-6 others. Make sure that at least one is a full-length photo. Consider what might attract your ideal man. For example, if you’re after an edgier Brooklyn guy, choose artsier photos.

Last but not least, write a profile that will stand out from the pack. Rather than saying you are witty, show them! Make a few jokes, reveal some quirks and make your matches laugh out loud. Answer all the questions – even “the most private thing you are willing to admit” — and focus on traits that make you unique. If you need help, you can always get an eMakeover!

How much importance should one put on an online suitor’s writing style? I have been e-mailing with a couple of guys who freely use swear words and derogatory terms like “chicks” or “retards” in their e-mails to me, but I am trying hard not to write them off. My former boyfriends never wrote to me this way during the initial courtship days so I am slightly turned off, but male friends tell me this is normal. I should probably meet them or at least chat on the phone before making a final decision but don’t want to waste my time. Any thoughts?

— Posted by Rosy

Oh my, Rosy! That is certainly not first impression behavior. It all comes down to age and context. Are you in your teens or early 20s? If so, you might want to chat on the phone. Keep the conversation to 10 minutes and see what his language is like real time. If you get a good vibe, it might have been a fluke. If you are older than 23, there is no way you should continue to communicate with him. There are plenty of other men out there who will have more respect for you.

What’s the best way to respond when people joke/snicker when you tell them you and your significant other met through e-dating? Also, when young children ask how you met, should you say on the Internet or tell them a white lie?

— Posted by Justin

There is absolutely no shame in meeting online! In fact, “Internet marrieds” is a societal trend. Your family and friends should know the truth. The online dating stigma is not as prevalent as it was when you began dating, so it is socially acceptable to talk about meeting online. To help deter some of the jokes, perfect the story of how you met. Did something funny happen via e-mail or on your first date? Did you almost delete your husband’s first e-mail but there was that one thing in his profile that made you reply? Don’t respond with simply, “We met on” Tell a story. The more romantic or unique the story, the less likely you will be to hear snickers.

We are no longer accepting questions for this feature.

Do you have any suggestions for online daters who are disabled? I’m a legally blind woman. I’m young, support myself, have an interesting job and am very attractive. You wouldn’t probably even notice I was blind unless you saw me trying to read something. I’ve found, though, that when I meet someone online the discussion of my eyesight has a very different flavor than when it comes up when I meet someone at, say, a party. Instead of it being just an interesting thing about me, it always seems to end up being this awful problem for them. I wonder if it is how the meeting is framed. Rather than meeting someone, liking them, learning something about them and then deciding to maybe think romantically about them, they seem to start from a place of “is this person good enough?” “Does she have the things I said I wanted?” And, sadly, maybe a little of “aren’t there plenty of girls online who can see?”

— Posted by LA

Being legally blind is a health secret. Since it sounds like it doesn’t affect your daily life much, it is in your control when to tell a match. In fact, think of this way: When you tell someone, you are trusting them with privileged information about yourself. Health secrets should not be listed in your profile or communicated via e-mail before you meet. Once you meet, you should tell him if topic comes up, but be sure to perfect the way you say it. Practice on a friend. It’s all about the wording.

If you tell someone too soon, you risk having that person define you by your health secret, which sounds like what is happening now. For more support on revealing health secrets, read this recent article in

I recently signed on to with mixed results. Some of the problems I have encountered on this and other sites is that some people intentionally post years-old photos and may misstate their true age. I have played it straight and noticed that over 100 people have reviewed my profile and only a few have responded. I suspect that my age which in my case does not reflect my level of activity, energy and mental acuity correspond to the number. That is sad since I may never get to meet the person whose life I may enrich and hers mine.

— Posted by Marv

Marv, please don’t get discouraged! You will meet your gingerbread woman. First things first: You might be on the wrong site. is great place to find other progressive singles, but if this is your first online dating experience, you should start with a more mainstream site first. There will probably be more singles in your area, so get your feet wet, meet some people and familiarize with the process. Perfect your profile and e-mail skills … and then try a niche site. It is likely you will have a much more positive experience.

Speaking of your profile, if you have received a lot of views but not a lot of e-mail, you might want to try making some adjustments. Since they are clicking through, it is likely that your photos are O.K., but the text might need some massaging. If you don’t know where to start, try an eMakeover.

Old photos are a frequent problem on dating sites, but you’ll develop an eye for weeding these matches out. Tell-tale signs are graininess in clarity, few pictures posted or major age differences between the photos that are up.

Longtime wife left eight years ago, without divorce. Any hope for a nice interesting private funded guy with online dating?

— Posted by Islander

Most dating sites allow you to choose a marital status of “separated,” but it is definitely going to be a red flag to your matches. Your status will raise suspicion, and you won’t get as much traffic as you would if your status said divorced. In fact, you won’t even show up in the search criteria for many ideal matches. You can legally get a divorce if you were abandoned. If you want to date online, I recommend you file papers or at least look into formalizing it.

Do you have any fun and atypical suggestions for a new couple who want to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Aside from the usual, dinner, candy and flowers.

— Posted by Susan

Plan surprises. Don’t tell your husband where you are taking him or what you are doing — just what he should wear. The night will feel wistful for both of you! Try going to a jazz club, the theater or get a hotel room for the night.

If you don’t have much money to spend, wake him up with breakfast in bed or leave sticky notes with romantic messages in places he would pass throughout the day — the bathroom mirror, the front door and the coffee pot, for example. Cook him his favorite meal, splurge on Champagne and play a game of 20 questions to reconnect with each other.

What’s the best way to meet multiple people but only date one at a time? If I meet more than one person but only want to date one at a time, what are some strategies for telling the second person that I am interested but it’s not the right time … maybe later? Hope this makes sense?

— Posted by Sarah

When you date online you have lots of single guys at your fingertips. It’s O.K. to like several of them at a time and meet up in-person, which is different from a first date. You should limit yourself only after you have been on a few dates with a guy who intrigues you enough to halt communication with others. When this happens, you do not need to notify everyone you’ve been e-mailing right away. Don’t log in to your account until you have a few more dates with Mr. “Maybe Right” under your belt. If you still feel strongly about him and haven’t defined your relationship by the time another guy you dated contacts you, tell your previous match that:

You’re seeing someone right now whom you really like.
It’s still early days so you’re not sure what will happen but …
You’re not seeing other people until you know for sure.