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A good rule of thumb: if you aren’t available for a date within 7 days of sending the message, don’t send it.

NOT-SO-SMOOTH OPERATOR The scenario: “I recently received a message that said, ‘Damn you’re a pretty white girl, you into muscular black men?

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.

Today’s rules are a little more user-friendly – but some of them may surprise you. Many profiles on dating websites start with statements like: “I’m no good at this kind of thing”. If you put yourself down, you won’t sound attractively self-effacing. The aim of the online dating game is to catch the eye of someone you have lots in common with.

A lot of you are self-conscious about the fact that you’re on a dating site.

If you’re both adults, single and you use protection, it’s your choice – but if you’d rather not, that’s your choice too. Ignore those rules about waiting three days to get in touch.

Most living grown-ups have a history of exes, hang-ups and maybe a nervous breakdown or two. They know that you have a past, but they don’t want to hear about it. Some online dating profiles read like shopping lists.

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.

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