Think Positive — And Find Love!

Here are 10 tips to help online daters meet someone special.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

K, so you're dating again after divorce or widowhood. It's hard, we know. But if you're ready to start your own new love story, here's help: we've collected 10 ideas you can use today to boost your outlook and improve your chances of finding love online.

1. Be nicer — to yourself.
Start treating yourself the way you want that someone special to treat you, suggests Milton, MA-based life coach
Start treating yourself the way you want that someone special to treat you.
Kathleen Hassan. "Learn to love and accept yourself — just the way you are. Know that you're worthy and deserving of only the best. Attracting love into your life starts by developing the attraction factor from the inside out."

2. Jettison the guilt.
"It's normal for widows and widowers to feel guilty, almost like you're 'cheating' on your late spouse," allows Carole Brody Fleet, author of Widows Wear Stilettos. "You must remember that your former spouse is no longer here, and while there is sadness in that fact, you are entitled to move forward into a new life; a life that includes companionship."

3. Scope the competition.
Go online and look at the kinds of profiles people like you (same gender, same age, etc.) have posted. "Spend one to two hours reading up on your competition," suggests Sally Landau, author of Exercising Your Dating Muscle, A Smart Woman's Guide to Successful Dating. This will help you recognize what sets you apart from others. "But don't fall into the trap of comparing or contrasting yourself in negative ways. You don't have to be like anyone else."

4. Know what you want — and what you don't want.
It's essential to know what you don't want in a date, but that doesn't mean you should put that in your profile. Instead, flip the coin and figure out how to state that as something you do want. "You'll need to determine what is truly essential for you in a romantic relationship — like honesty, sensuality, financial security and fidelity," says Wendy Lyon, a certified relationship coach in San Rafael, CA. This will help you appear attractive to people seeking the same things in their romances.

5. Ask for what you want.
You don't have to just accept and settle for whomever comes along; one of the joys of online dating is you get to proactively look for people who match your criteria. "Set an intention, a goal; then focus your thoughts and attention on the joy of knowing that when you ask, it is always given," Hassan says. "The secret is in trusting and in learning how to keep bringing your thoughts back to what you want. Do that instead of
Chat with different people who didn't initially make the cut.
focusing on what you do not have. Your thoughts create your reality."

6. Focus on values and interests.
Looks are important, but values seal the deal, says Debbie Mandel, author of Turn On Your Inner Light. "Look for core values, humor and common interests in profiles — these create friendships."

7. Sell yourself.
Too many people focus on what they want in a date instead of thinking about what a date wants in them. "Be very clear about your own selling points," Landau explains. "Create a curriculum vitae on the social you. Don't hesitate to brag about your strengths. Be honest, of course, and also be willing to recognize and share the best of yourself."

8. Believe the best — and forget the rest.
"Don't let your past determine or obscure your future," counsels Paul Davis, author of Are You Ready For True Love? and Breakthrough For A Broken Heart. "Never bury your dreams beneath your disappointments. Be willing to say goodbye and get rid of the old to make room for the new." If someone is nice but isn't right for you, don't be afraid to admit that and move on to find the person who is right for you.

9. Update your profile regularly.
Creating a winning profile is an iterative process, notes Cherie Byrd, author of Kissing School: Seven Lessons on Love, Lips, and Life Force. "Each time you discover an important aspect of yourself that you left out of your profile, go back and rewrite it. Every time you change it you will attract different-feeling people."

10. Loosen up.
Successful daters look for opportunity, not perfection, so open up your search criteria. "Chat with different people who didn't initially make the cut," counsels Amanda Cook, co-founder of How Not to be Dreadful, a lifestyle blog and podcast originating in Washington, D.C. "They might surprise you."

In addition to being a freelance writer for several national magazines, Margot Carmichael Lester is a successful online dater who married a man she met online.
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