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Nerd Chick Adventures: Online Dating (Just in time for Valentine’s Day)

Readers, please join me in welcoming to anewscafe.com’s family of talented contributors, Andrea Eldridge, author of the regular column, “Nerd Chick Adventures”.  Andrea is also the co-owner and co-founder of the renowned Nerds on Call (learn more about her at the end of today’s column).  Before I joined the ranks of happily married mommies, I was a single girl once. After college, I learned that anyone who held to not dating from their pool of coworkers had a relatively narrow field of potential mate options. Bar hopping requires fending off drunken advances and getting setup by your friends involves a lot of baggage: “what do you mean you didn’t like my favorite cousin Melvin?” These days, online dating allows singles to cyber-meet before committing to a face-to-face, a great way to get a hint of compatibility before giving out your phone number.

If this Valentine’s Day finds you considering the blind date your Great Aunt Edna wants to set you up on, read on for tips to safely explore the world of online dating sites.

According to www.datingsitesreviews.com, of the 54 million singles in the United States, 5.5 million of them use dating services. However, the internet can be a scary place for the unprepared. It’s good to be reasonably skeptical about a profile that sounds too good to be true. According to a study led by Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about 81% of daters misrepresent their height, weight, or age in their profiles.

The good news is that the lies are typically not extreme, as no one wants to have to explain a 10 year age difference between reality and their profile when you finally meet in person. Most commonly people shave a couple years off their age and a few pounds off their weight. There are scam profiles on most dating sites that will try to farm your information or re-direct you to a different website, so don’t give out your personal contact information in your profile or too early in the process of making a connection. Set up a separate free email account for outside contact and consider using a Google Talk or Skype service instead of giving out your phone number.

Speaking of making a connection, most online dating sites charge a fee to communicate with members. One notable exception is the site www.okcupid.com, a completely free dating site. It’s the hip dating site of the moment, with a relatively easy profile creation process, engaging articles and quizzes to keep users entertained, even a hot-or-not style “MyBestFace” feature you can choose to subject your photo to. According to an article written for PC World, “Online Dating for Nerds: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Postings”, about 70 percent of its users are between the ages of 18 and 35, making it one of the most popular sites for the younger demographic. Compare this with Match.com, where 51% of users are between the ages of 30 and 49, and you can imagine that it’s geared to a younger audience. In some cases this may make it less inclined toward finding a serious match.

More an online matchmaking service than a dating site, www.eHarmony.com is touted to be the site for those looking for a serious relationship. The dedication needed to complete a profile is extreme, with about 400 questions aimed to determine compatibility with potential matches. Once you’ve completed your detailed personality questionn ire, you can’t search the site for people you want to reach out to. You are instead offered a pool of potential matches based on the site’s assessment of your compatibility. If you’re serious about finding a life partner, your hard work may pay off in the end. An often sited 2009 survey conducted by Harris Interactive
for eHarmony reported that “on average, 542 people marry every day in the U.S. as a result of being matched on eHarmony, nearly 5% of new marriages.” While that statistic is difficult for me to believe, the site does everything it can to ensure that it’s not conducive to surfing the net for a pretty face.

If you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, now may be the time to take your search online. Still hesitant? Email us at nerdchick@callnerds.com for more online dating tips.

Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and electronics repair service for homes and businesses. Andrea established the company with her husband, Ryan, from a spare room in their home in Redding, California in March 2004. They have since expanded to locations throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maryland, and most recently South Dakota.

Nerds On Call provides repair and trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems. If it has an on/off button, Nerds On Call can probably fix it.

Andrea is the celebrated columnist of Nerd Chick Adventures, which speaks to the novice computer user and runs weekly in the Redding Record Searchlight. She regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets. For more on Andrea Eldridge, fee free to contact her through our contact form.