While many people are successful in meeting partners online, there are others who find the whole thing too hard. They dip their toe in the water and then quickly retreat.

So what’s going on here?  Well, online dating has become a victim of its own success. So many people are joining up that the matchmaking process is becoming ever more difficult and time-consuming.

Our biggest site, the Fairfax owned RSVP, has over a 1000 singles sign up every day and, according to Choice magazine, has over 2 million members.

That’s big numbers and it’s meant online dating is often overwhelming, particularly for people in popular categories – like attractive younger women and older successful men – who are swamped with attention.  And those seeking these desirable partners get lost in the rush. It’s like the eco tourist operator who finds his pristine wilderness area loses its appeal when crowded out with khaki-clad customers.

This doesn’t mean online dating isn’t working. Matchmaking via the web seems here to stay – there’s every reason to think numbers will continue to skyrocket, particularly in the older age groups. Interestingly the baby boomer generation is now more like to be single, divorced or widowed than the general population with growing numbers who have never been married. The demand is ever increasing.

So even though online dating is tougher than it was five years ago, with far more women than men online and more women actively searching, many are making it work for them.

But it requires a real time-commitment, a thick skin and clever strategies. First of all you need to choose an appropriate site. If you are young and gorgeous you’ll do well on all sites, including the free ones. But older people are better off with big sites like RSVP. Stay away from sites matching people on personality questionnaires like eHarmony, a process which rarely works well.

Some other key strategies, mainly based on RSVP rules which allow for the best possible search:

  • Cast a wide net. Don’t be too fussy when specifying the characteristics you seek – particularly if you are an older woman facing a very competitive market.
  • Mention a minimum number of deal-breakers – long shopping lists limit your chances.
  • Include information that might increase your attractiveness i.e. your exercise habits and the fact that your children don’t live at home.
  • Be truthful – there is no point fudging what you put on your profile. The truth will emerge eventually and risks ruining your chance of a relationship.
  • Women need to be proactive, approaching men not just waiting to be noticed.
  • Send out kisses every day so you remain at the top of the search list where most active members are listed first.
  • If a prospect is particularly attractive to you, send an email rather than a kiss because it will attract attention.
  • You are more likely to attract attention if you approach men who aren’t listed as recently active.
  • Don’t get into a long email exchange -most men hate that.  With good prospects, move on quickly to phone contact or first date.