Online dating can be a tricky world to navigate.

­One of the basic human impulses is to develop a romantic relationship –- and maybe even fall in love. But there are a lot of obstacles that might keep someone from meeting the love of his or her life in today’s world. Maybe dating co-workers is against company policy. Perhaps you hate the bar scene. You might not be in the right mood to meet your soul mate while you’re trekking through the grocery store.

People of all ages, lifestyles and locations have been facing this problem for decades. In the last 10 years or so, a new solution has arrived to help lonely hearts find their soul mates: online dating.

­Online dating is simply a method of meeting people, and it has advantages and disadvantages. The variety of dating sites is constantly growing, with many sites focused on very specific groups or interests. There are sites for seniors, sites for Muslims, sites for fitness-oriented people, sites for people just looking for friends and sites for people who are interested in more adult activities. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the most basic type of dating site –- one that works to bring two people together for a romantic relationship. While this article applies to the majority of popular dating sites, the rules and practices of any given individual site may differ.

Once you decide you're going to give it a shot, the first thing you need to do is create your profile. See the next page to get started, and learn what online dating is like, find out how (and if) it works and get some helpful tips on making your online dating experience safe and successful.