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Changed hair style or colour? Update your photo to reflect it. Put on or lost weight, or added some tattoos or piercings? The photo on your profile needs to show these changes. What may seem insignificant to yourself may be a deal breaker for someone looking at potential matches, and misrepresentation (intentional or otherwise) can cause embarassment further down the line.
The photo on any dating profile is important to others, regardless of how unimportant it may feel to you. A badly lit, poor quality image of yourself just after you've got out of bed is unlikely to garner much attention, or at least, not the kind of attention anyone wants. Putting some time and effort into getting a picture that reflects who you really are and is natural, yet still shows some flare and originality, sets your profile apart from the competition. Furthermore, a lot of profiles will show the person in an unflattering light for other reasons; possibly drunk on a night out, or engaging in behaviour that can be considered questionable or illegal. Whilst one may think that this shows them to be a bit of an animal or a dare devil, it can turn off potential matches very quickly. Keep it real, respectful and with room for a little flare.
This may sound like a common sense step, but it is often where most people slip up. Something as simple as poor spelling and grammar can send out a message that the potential match doesn't even take their profile seriously enough to perform a spell check. Corny jokes will make the person seem like a clown, or just not funny at all if the jokes are bad. Sometimes it's also best to leave out information which can be an immediate turn-off. Speaking about disastrous past relationships or marriages, for instance, can not only make the person sound like 'damaged goods', but can paint them out as bitter and unhappy. Racist, sexist language is also a 'no no'. Paint yourself as the compassionate, open minded and fun loving person that you are, and last but not least, run a spelling and grammar check!
Dating websites nearly always have a direct messaging system, but it's easy to slip up if using it without thinking first. Remember that messages should be considered permanent. If you insult someone, or say something you later regret, it's there to stay, and can be used against you later if something is referred to the website admin or law enforcement. But this is also a good reason to keep incoming messages. Remember that this is a great tool for getting to know someone better, but should be used widely. Lastly, messages are asynchronous; be prepared to wait for a response, and avoid pestering other users. If they don't respond to your messages, that's their choice and should be respected.
Dating advice in Essex is around keeping it as safe as it is fun. Meet in a public place as many times as is necessary before you feel safe making things 'personal'. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, steer clear. Your safety is more important than a successful date. Feel free to utilise a cheap phone with a disposable SIM when making phone contact; if you don't want to stay in contact with someone, problem solved. Safe equals fun!
Overall, online dating is a game of common sense. It's as simple as imagining trying to impress a member of the opposite sex in person, for instance at a bar, and seeing the online equivalent as just as important. Put as much effort into selling yourself; remember, unlike a chance meeting at a bar, you have the luxury of time on your hands, so use it along with some forethought to make your profile stand out and increase the chances of a successful date.