Computer dating started 40 years ago as a simple compatibility questionnaire. It was designed by two Harvard undergrads who wanted to meet girls at Radcliff. Today, online dating is the third-most-common way couples meet. And 1-in-3 singles belong to an online dating service. Want to make it work for you? Here’s how to do it:

  • Join several services. Dating expert Laurie Davis says it’s like being in more than one social circle. She recommends joining one mainstream site, like Match.com, and at least one niche service, like Cupidtino, which matches Apple product lovers. And switch sites every few days, so you’re always the “new face.”

  • Pick a catchy user name that highlights your personality. Something like, SportySmile. Our expert says that for your own safety, never use your real name, or initials. That way, the people you don’t want to meet can’t find you in real life.

  • Keep your “about me” section short and positive. You’re more likely to get a date if you seem approachable and fun. And don’t get too specific. In other words, it’s fine to say, “I love sci-fi,” but don’t say: “I’m totally addicted to Dr. Who._” Save that for the actual date. Because if someone reading your profile doesn’t like _Dr. Who, they may pass you by before giving you a chance.

  • Upload at least 3 pictures. According to the dating service “How About We,” users who add at least three photos get twice as many messages as those with just one.

  • Beware of red flags. Psychologists say that if someone says, “I hate drama,” it means they’ve got plenty of it already. Saying “I'm not sure exactly how to describe myself” is code for low self-esteem. And “I’m ready to move on” means they’re not ready at all.

  • Max out your messages at 100 words. And tailor each one to the specific person you’re contacting. And if it takes more than six emails to set up a first date, move on. Life’s too short.