Have you or your friends tried online dating? I’m wondering, when I get to the point where I’m e-mailing someone, what kind of red flags I should be looking for in their messages.From Jane

Yes, I recently started online dating, and I share some of my experiences in detail on essentiallyangela.com. Once a naysayer, I think online dating can be a great tool for singles. I don’t have the lifestyle that provides time to go out often at night, so the ability to sort through online profiles and find someone who piques my interest at my convenience is fantastic.

I absolutely recommend several rounds of e-mails before a phone conversation or meeting. People reveal themselves in conversation, and they are even less guarded via e-mail. It’s difficult for any of us to look at a relative stranger across the table and eloquently describe our wants and needs, yet we easily can communicate those desires in a written format.

A big red flag I see often is the continued tone of bitterness toward exes. If it’s still being discussed they aren’t over it yet. Which means they aren’t ready for you. Avoid messages with very sexual undertones. Those people are online looking for sex with as many women as possible. Let them continue the search elsewhere. Your safety has to be the foremost priority. Always meet for the first few dates in a very public setting, and have your own mode of transportation. It’s also completely acceptable to do background on the person. Do not be embarrassed by this. You want to make sure someone really is who he says he is. And lastly, there’s a great free phone app I was just introduced to: “Circle of 6.” If you are in an emergency situation, with the push of one button, you can send a mass text to six previously chosen friends, giving your GPS location and a message that you need help.

But, the most important tool you have with any kind of dating is your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right to you, chances are, it’s not.

I’d like to know a little more abut the person who is handing out dating advice. What makes you such an expert?From Benjamin

That’s a great question, Benjamin. An expert is defined as, “a person having comprehensive knowledge of a particular area.” I’ve had my personal share of relationships and dates that qualify as extensive in this area, but I’d venture to say most adults have, correct? Romantic relationships are a key element in our lives. We are either in one or looking for one the majority of our existence.

So what is it that makes my experience different and gives credibility to what I have to say? I’ve made an enormous amount of mistakes: I’ve loved the wrong guy, let the right one go, been stubborn instead of soft, played stupid rather than smart ... the list could go on and on. I’ve erred, and I’m willing to talk about it. Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

My job is to keep you from the insanity.

I enjoy going to Blue Martini with my friends, sitting at the outdoor bar and soaking up the action. But I’m not someone who “makes his move” as aggressively as my buddies do. What can I do in keeping with my low-key personality (without making a fool of myself) that might catch the attention of an attractive woman like you?From Aaron

Well, Aaron, I think you speak for the majority of men. It’s rare that an aggressive approach will work, particularly in a bar setting. Women are on the lookout for this behavior and frequently will shut it down no matter what our attraction level to the man fronting it. It screams “player.” And trust me when I tell you, no woman is looking to connect with a player.

Chances are the woman that seems interesting to you will be out with other women. You’ll need to separate her from the pack in order to establish conversation and hopefully get her phone number. I suggest sending a drink over with a note. The note should be something simple and flattering. For example: “I couldn’t help but notice that you are incredibly beautiful.”

That’s it. If she has any class at all (and if she doesn’t she is not right for you anyway) she will seek out the sender to thank him. You have now successfully separated her from the pack. Remain confident, but stay with your low-key personality and keep the conversation light. Your aggressive companions can use their cheesy pick-up lines all they want. Don’t tell them, but they never work!


About Angela Lutin

Angela Lutin has won the adoration and loyalty of her riders at Flywheel Sports in Boca, where she has emerged as the most sought-after indoor cycling instructors in South Florida. In her spare time, the divorced single mom has launched a popular dating blog—essentiallyangela.com—on which she dispenses musings on life, navigating the singles scene and much more. Angela will answer your dating questions every Thursday at bocamag.com on her “The Naked Truth” blog, which she is doing exclusively for Boca Raton magazine. “A chef is the expert on food, a stylist knows the right clothes,” she says. “And me? I'm the one you come to for questions about love, sex, and relationships. I’m certainly experimenting to find the right formula every day.”