My dating journey began in my 40s. I was clueless about both men and online dating. So much so that today, I still wince at how often I allowed a man to make me his email or phone pal.

Truthfully, back then I was thrilled by the attention. Since he’d picked ME out of every other woman online to speak with, I felt like it was my female duty to let him talk about himself for hours on end. Night after night, I listened to the description of his day and what he thought of everything in his world. But, guess what? Not one ever asked me on a date.

I had to learn the hard way how to set boundaries with these men. I don’t want you to have to do the same thing, so I’d like to share with you 5 online dating tips that will help make your cyber experience so much easier.

Tip #1: Why he doesn’t look like the man you saw online

Some men’s profiles and pictures look pretty good on dating sites. But, then you meet. And you wonder who this man is since he looks and acts nothing like the amazing man you saw online or spoke with on the phone.

This happens when you create a story about who a man is based on his pictures, profiles and maybe even a phone call or two. Be really careful about the stories you tell yourself because they are a huge set up for disappointment once you meet. So first on my list of online dating tips, just go on a date with no expectations other than to meet a new and interesting man. It’s a lot more fun way to date when you do.

Tip #2: Can I write to men?

I recommend letting men reach out to you. If you’re interested in them, you can always favor them on the dating site. Whenever I wrote to a man, I found he’d initially write back but it would usually fizzle after 2-3 emails. Now that being said, I know of two very good relationships where the woman contacted the man first. It’s always worth a try if you are really interested in a man.

When you’re writing men online, keep emails to about 5-10 short, fun and flirty posts. Beyond that you’re creating a false relationship that may not translate once you meet.

Tip #3: Should I talk to him on the phone before meeting?

Many times men want to text or go right to the meet and greet. The advantage of speaking first is it gives you the opportunity to screen a man. What do I mean by this? I once had a man ask me to meet him at an ice cream shop. I thought it was a really novel idea and could be fun. The problem was he had no job and therefore no money to even treat me to an ice cream cone. Had we spoken before we met, I’d have found out he wasn’t working and I’d have said, “I’m sorry, we’re not a match.”

Limit phone calls to one or two max. It’s worth squeezing in at least one to see if he’s date-worthy so you aren’t wasting your time on the wrong man.

Tip #4: Is it better to meet for coffee or a meal?

Men will often ask you out for a meal because unlike women, they don’t have friends to share a meal with. A meal is great, but if you don’t like him once you meet, it can feel like an eternity before you can excuse yourself and leave.

I preferred meeting men at a coffee shop or for a drink. The date is short and sweet and you can be out of there within half an hour or less once your beverage is done. If things are going well, the two of you can always continue the conversation over dinner.

Tip #5: How do I get a second date if I like him?

Here’s a mantra I want you to remember. A man is not rejecting you personally when he doesn’t ask you for a second date. You just don’t fit the picture in his head of who he thinks he wants. We do this with men all the time as well. They show up and don’t fit who we want either so we say NO too.

When he says he’ll call you but doesn’t, don’t write, text or call him. Just get back online and move on to the next guy. You want a man who’s interested in getting to know you, not a man you have to aggressively push to ask you out again. Sometimes it takes kissing a few frogs to get to your Prince. Be patient and just keep at it using these online dating tips. He’s out there waiting for you!

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