A special someone out there

Whether single men and women are jumping into the digital dating pool with Match.com, eHarmony or any other of the more than 1,000 online dating sites to choose from, finding the right fit can be difficult.

Beyond that, there's creating a profile that highlights how fascinating and charming you are without being conceited, and describes what you want in a relationship without sounding unrealistic.

Heck, just choosing a photo for the profile can be hard. That's where online dating expert Laurie Davis comes in. Her book, "Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating," is a guide for newbie online daters and those disappointed by previous online dating experiences.

Davis, who met her fiancé on Twitter, is an online dating coach and founder of eFlirtExpert.com, a sort of Cyrano for the digital age. Her consultancy helps men and women create dating profiles and search for compatible mates, and even writes email messages for them. "Love @ First Click" is a compilation of the advice she gives to her clients, written in a breezy style with an empathetic tone.

Though "Love @ First Click" has plenty of practical advice for both men and women, the pink-and-white book is clearly more geared toward a female audience. It begins with tips on creating the perfect online profile, including what to wear in your photo. Women, Davis says, should wear red. She details how to compose the perfect introductory email that will lead to that first date, and includes a successful real-life email exchange as an example.

Davis advises readers to keep an open mind. Don't make assumptions and exclude the 45-year-old man who has never been married or the 60-year-old woman who has been married three times. Also, she says, don't rule out the matches that aren't perfect. An A-list choice might be far less interesting in person than the man or woman who seemed just OK online. Davis explains why a first meeting is not a date but rather a chance for a second first impression. She also includes safety tips: Don't leave a new date alone with your drink, and don't share personal details such as workplace or home address right away.

I spoke to two friends in Ashland who are using online dating sites, and they agree with a lot of Davis' advice. One friend, a 46-year-old woman, says Davis is right on.

"I'd say when looking online be honest and be patient. I met a man who shared my interests and tastes, and we learned a lot about each other via email. We went out on dates, and always had a great time together," she said. Although the dates did not lead to a romantic connection, she and this man are very close friends. "I'm still hoping to find a romantic match, but I'm taking my time," she said.

Davis advises singles to approach online dating like a part-time job. Commit to spending time daily to check your inbox, tweak your profile and review prospective dates. The time commitment can frustrate newbies.

Another friend of mine said she gave up on online dating after about a month because she realized it required a lot of time. "I have other obligations and interests. I think I'd prefer meeting someone while doing something I enjoy," she said.

Davis acknowledges that sifting through online profiles to find that special someone takes time, but says, "it only takes one great match to make the effort worth it."

Despite the book's title, "online dating" is a misnomer. It's really about meeting online and dating offline. Once you connect with someone, it's time to step away from the computer, put down your smartphone and spend some nondigital time with your new match.

Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at decker4@gmail.com.

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