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Forget that stuff about playing hard to get, expecting the man to pay, and never having sex on a first date. “I cook a mean paella and I’ll always try to make you laugh” is good, but “I have a fantastic job and no-one can understand why I’m single” is not.

They’re looking for someone with brown eyes, short hair, between 5’10” and 6′, from north-east Birmingham, and so on. First, they make the writer sound like a control freak.

Second, they sound like an exact description of the writer’s ex.

Don’t even think about posting a dating advert without a photo. You meet, and the blood drains from their face as they realise that your photo was taken 10 years, five stone and 500 wrinkles ago. You don’t have to write someone an epic love letter (please don’t) – just pick out a couple of appealing points in their ad and write a quick intro email. Some rookies assume that they must answer every email, even if it’s “thanks, but no thanks”. “Thanks but no thanks” can feel more hurtful than no reply.

A picture-less ad says: “I am so ugly I didn’t want to risk a photo,” “I am married,” or “I am on the run from Broadmoor.” Everyone who likes your main photo will want to see more. Whether you’re a man or a woman, a photo with your shirt off makes you look desperate and/or only interested in sex. This is a cruel fact of life for online dating beginners, especially men. Likewise, you won’t “keep them keen” by making them wait days for a reply. Don’t allow an email conversation to drag on for weeks without a date.

Not because they can’t get enough of you, but because a single photo is not a reliable indicator of what you look like. Use photos and emails for spotting potential, but don’t start fancying the pants off a two-dimensional image. More men than women advertise on most dating sites, so the girls get the pick of the bunch. Read the profiles that get most views, and pick up tips from them. You may think you’re “connecting”, but you can’t judge chemistry unless you meet up.

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