Get Set For Valentine's Day With Online Dating*

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*This is a collaborative post*

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last two weeks, you'll no doubt have spotted the countless red hearts, bunting and goodness knows what else hanging from every shop surface. Yes people, Valentine's Day is creeping up on us once more. 

This year being that I'm all loved up, I will actually - for once - be joining the droves who every year send cheesy Valentine's cards. This is a first for me. In previous years gone by when I was single, I'd have proudly exclaimed that I was happy as I was and that I didn't need a man. Partly that was (and is still) true. I don't necessarily need a man to make me happy or complete, but I do think it's nice to have a partner. Someone who has your back, who'll snuggle and cheer you up on your bad days, laugh with you on your good, someone who will bring something to the table, metaphorically speaking of course.

If you're currently single then you'll probably be feeling one of two ways about the fourteenth of February. You'll either despise it with a passion and will want to throw something at every hand holding couple that walks past, because quite frankly, you want romance for yourself and why not hey?! Or you'll really not care one way or the other because - let's face it - it's just another day and you're truly happy as Larry doing your own thing. 

If you are happy then great, but for those who are feeling irritated and/or down about Valentine's Day, why don't you do something about it and put yourself out there? Love isn't going to come knocking on your front door, that would be way too easy. Yes it's going to be nerve-racking meeting new potential love interests, but it might also be a lot of fun. 

First dates are always going to be a tad awkward, you're both finding your feet so remember to be patient with yourself. I find a glass of wine usually helps if you're after some dutch courage and I'd always recommend going somewhere that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed, perhaps a pub or restaurant that you're familiar with. 

Of course choosing a setting is all well and good if you already have a date, but if you don't then a great place to start is on the world wide web! You'll have heard me say this before but online dating is the way to go if you want to meet like minded individuals. Unless fate throws someone into your path - I'll share my story with you one day - then you're going to need to help things along. The majority of couples I know have met via online dating. Some are indeed happily married too. It's safe to say that the stigma that once came with using these sites has long gone. 

Online dating can be a truly positive experience if you use it correctly. Remember to never give too much information away over the net. No matter how gorgeous his or her profile picture is, until you've met and got to know each other, you could be talking to just about anyone so please keep your own safety in mind. 

Choosing which site to use is really up to you, it's all about personal preference and your individual needs. Some people love the speed of Tinder, a quick swipe to the right and you could be matched with the love of your life. Others prefer to set up a more 'traditional' profile on dating sites such as POF, eHarmony or Cardiff dating. If you're not so keen on the more 'mainstream' sites then do look for others that are perhaps better suited. There's a lot to be said about dating sites that are local to the individual. For starters you're going to do a lot less travelling if you meet someone who lives in your vicinity. How gutted would you be if you were chatting to a potential taker on POF and then you learnt that they live a million miles away? There's now a dating site for almost every area so you're bound to find one with singletons close to you. All it takes is a quick Google search. Some examples are this Merseyside dating site and this Cardiff dating site. If you're after a bit of no strings naughty dating, then there are sites for this too, I'm not here to judge. And if you're male or female and are looking for single women in County Tyrone or elsewhere, again you'll find the most suitable site for you with a quick online search.

What are you waiting for? It's free to join many of these dating websites so you've really nothing to lose. Valentine's is only a few days away, if you're quick about it, you might bag yourself a date in time for the big night. Good luck!

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