One of the best things about online dating is the ability to screen potential dates. Want to make sure that your date likes cats? Not a problem; just put it in your profile! Want to make sure that you connect with someone who will be willing to jump out of an airplane with you? Join the lifestyle site for adrenaline junkies and meet fellow daredevils!

If you've spent more than five seconds browsing profiles, you've probably noticed that other site members are screening for pretty specific traits as well. And that's a good thing! After all, you're tired of going out on dates with people with which you share nothing in common. That's why you're here, right?

There's a problem though; can you guess what it is?

Online dating gives people the opportunity to be so specific that they risk alienating people that they would really enjoy getting to know. After all, you may be a fitness enthusiast and you may prefer to be with someone who cares about their health, but you don't necessarily need to take turns bench pressing each other (or whatever it is that gym rats do when they're out on a date).

So obviously you don't want to be too specific in your own dating profile, but what do you do when you come across a seemingly great man or woman that has oddly specific criteria that you, unfortunately, don't quite match? Keep reading to learn how to read dating profiles with an open mind.

What Are They Really Saying?

To understand someone's profile, put yourself in their shoes. While most people have a preference for height, weight, age and body type, they're thinking of those as ballpark ranges. In other words, they may say that they're looking for someone between the ages of 25-37, but they probably wouldn't turn away someone who is 38.

There are always going to be those members who treat online dating sites like their own personal create-a-mate workshop, as if they can find their own dream-come-true match simply by entering the "perfect" criteria for the "perfect" person. Fortunately, that's not everyone. Most people have a more general idea of what type of person they would be most compatible with, and even that isn't set in stone.

For example, maybe they say that they're looking for someone who is sporty. You don't necessary like playing sports, but you don't mind watching them and you'd be up for attending a sporting event. Are you technically "sporty?" Maybe not, but you may still be someone with whom they can enjoy a great date!

Another criterion that everyone seems to get hung up on is also one that seems to hit a nerve with everyone: body type. More specifically, how physically fit you are. Say that you've been cyber stalking someone who says that they're looking for a partner enjoys working out. When you read that, you assume that they're probably interested in someone who is slender (which in most developed countries, by the way, is less than half the population). Maybe you're not necessarily thin, but you do exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Once again, remember that ultimately, everyone is looking for someone that has a lifestyle that will be compatible with their own. Most people are realistic enough to recognise that the "perfect" person doesn't exist, and that no one person will (or even should) fit their every preference.

Take the Plunge

What does that mean for you? It means that if you find someone that you think that you would like to get to know, you should contact them! If you feel that you must, let them know that while you don't match their wish list exactly, you think that you'd be a great match. Feel free to share with them why you feel that your lifestyle, goals and values are compatible with their own, and let them decide how picky they're actually going to be. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that you won't hear back from them (which would have happened anyway if you'd decided not to reach out to them, so really, it's not that big of a deal.) Chances are that you will be pleasantly surprised by their response!

Finding Your Match

Got a pretty good idea of what type of person you're looking for? At Love2Date Singles, we havea whole range of lifestyle sites that allow you to connect with singles who share your values and interests. Signing up is free, so get started today!