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Years ago, I was just out of a terrible relationship and in no mood to date again.My friends were all excited for my between-boyfriend time.I'd enjoy an exhilarating freedom—I could learn how to paint or wear yoga pants all weekend long if I wanted.

There was just one problem: I didn't want to throw myself back into the dating pool. I wasn't interested in meeting dozens of single men.

I just wanted to find the right man, someone who was perfect for me.

Between the time I started online dating and now, I've discovered exactly how dating websites work.

I've tracked and analyzed data, spoken to computer scientists, and figured out what makes certain profiles successful.

I even wrote a book about what I learned—and included a final chapter written by the man who took me out on my last-ever first date.

Whether you're creating a new profile or you're a longtime, frustrated online dater, I have some insights that will help make your experience better.

It may seem like online dating is straightforward, but what's happening behind the scenes—and your screen—can be confusing and can often produce bizarre results.

Here are some basic answers to the questions you might be too embarrassed to ask.1.

Will anyone actually read my profile, or are they just looking at my photos?

In part because of how dating sites are designed, most of us see photos first, and that's when we determine whether to read through the rest of a profile.

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