Whether you’ve gone through a recent breakup or you’ve gotten divorced after 20 years of marriage, even if the wounds are still raw, know that your decision to create an online dating profile is a step in the right direction.
Here are 6 simple tips to get you started.
1. Have a Profile Party. It’s time to take the plunge and join an online dating site. This is a digital statement telling the world that you’re not going to sit home and feel sorry for yourself. I recommend that you grab a girlfriend or two and let them participate in a Profile Party. After all, your BFF’s will want to hear the juicy details of your dates and they truly want to see you move forward with your life. Find a few outfits with bright colors such as red or bright pink and let your friends snap the photos for you. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can sign up for our Pimp Your Profile Seminar on May 22nd , where I’ll be working with singles how to ramp up their profile in person! If you’re anxious to get started now, here are some of our favorite dating sites. Some offer special discounts to Cyber-Dating Expert readers.
2. It’s a Bio, not a novel. Not sure what to write about yourself? When creating your Internet dating bio and on your first dates, less is more. Don’t focus on what went wrong in your relationship. Talking about your ex is an instant buzz-kill. You’ll come across as someone who just hasn’t gotten over him or her yet.
3. Talk about the kids. If you’re a parent, do mention how important your children are and list their ages in your profile, but don’t post photos of them. A man would like to know that you have time for him in your life, while you juggle work, parenting, and a new relationship. A woman will project to the future to decide whether she wants to be a part of an extended family. Hiding the kids isn’t going to attract your dream date. An understanding partner will appreciate your devotion to your family.
4. Ask and answer questions. Keep your introduction emails short and simple and mention something in his profile that caught your eye. I recommend only a few sentences. It’s also good to ask a question, which will provoke an answer. Mention one of your favorite rock bands and ask if they’ve ever seen them perform live. List some of your dream vacation spots and ask if they’ve ever traveled there. Your goal is to create a conversation based upon your passions.
5. Head over to Facebook and change your relationship status to “Single.” Yes, it may come to a shock to some of your friends, but others might be ready to introduce you to one of their friends. Some of the couples on Facebook Love Stories actually fell in love on Facebook, reconnected with crushes from high school and college, and tied the knot after seeing that someone they knew was suddenly single again.
6. Give good phone. As a parent, your time is very precious. Do make sure you have a phone date before you set up time to meet in person. If you don’t feel any chemistry on the phone, don’t waste your time on setting up a date that probably won’t go well. Avoid becoming a digital pen pal with your new online crush and take your relationship from online to offline within the first few weeks.
Getting divorced is traumatic for everyone. This isn’t the time to compare war-room stories with potential dates. With these online dating tools at your digital finger tips, you’ll be able to start the next chapter of your life sooner, rather than later. Remember, the person that you’ll be meeting may have also gone through a divorce or loss of a loved one. He or she might be just as nervous as you are about starting over again.
Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert who’s been helping singles find love online since 1994. She’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for our free Weekly Flirt newsletter.
Photo credit: © ijdema – Fotolia.com
When you’ve signed up for an online dating site, at first you’ll be dating multiple people. We know it can be expensive. Then suddenly you meet the perfect girl online. Your phone chemistry is off the charts. The first date went so well, that you can’t wait to see her again. You’d like to show up with a dozen roses or provide a posh mode of transportation for your evening on the town to impress her. But what if you don’t have a lot of money and your credit is on the low end? It’s not uncommon with today’s economic shift to feel financially strapped while dating. Finding love online can be euphoric or cause a bit of anxiety in the early days.
The relationship between money and dating causes unnecessary stress for both men and women. Women want men who are financially secure. Men want women they’re attracted to who would fall in love with them, instead of their bank account.
So what should you do to impress her without breaking the bank? I believe that bringing a dozen tulips, costing 1/3 of the price will put a big smile on her face, but if you’d like to eventually splurge on a romantic vacation, it might be time to fix your credit and avoid spending more than you can afford.
While you’re getting your financial house in order, you still can impress a date with fun and inexpensive activities.
Nifty Date Ideas has several affordable suggestions for your next online date.
- Take your date to a remote spot to watch the sunset and bring a picnic lunch or dinner. If you live in a northern climate and the Aurora Borealis or a meteor shower can be seen that night, you could make an exception.
- Perform community service such as going to a community center to volunteer, planting flowers for a neighbor or shoveling snow.
- Playing board games is inexpensive, and there’s a wide range of games available: Monopoly, Candy Land or Sorry.
- Take your date on a nature walk and pick raspberries or blackberries. Eat them along the walk or save them in buckets to make a pie or tart.
- Remember the fun of school field trips? Take a free factory tour or visit a historical building to relive those grade-school excursions.
- Visit a library or bookstore, find a cozy corner and browse through books or magazines. You can also rent audiobooks or movies at most local libraries. The spot might have a coffee shop, so you can discuss what you read over a hot mocha or latte.
There’s no need to go into debt to impress your next date. You should still take some time to repair your credit in the next 6-12 months and be responsible about not spending more than you can afford.
How to Improve Your Score
Money problems is one of the top reasons for a relationship to split up. If your credit rating is low and your long-term goals are to find someone to spend the rest of your life with and even possibly buy a home or lease a car, it’s a good idea to start working on improving your credit score. MSN Money suggests you start by opening a line of credit through a credit card. It states you don’t need to carry a balance to have good scores; it’s a myth. Consider a secured credit card if you can’t open a traditional credit card. The issuing bank gives you a credit line equal to the deposit you make for a secured card. MSN Money says paying off your mortgage, auto and student loans can help, but not as dramatically as paying off accounts such as credit cards. Pay your bills on time and, if you can, pay more than the balance due.
If you want to improve your credit in a bigger way, consider getting a used car. Used cars are a good choice because a car that is only a year old is 20 to 30 percent cheaper than a new car, according to Edmunds.com. And it’s possible to get a regular interest rate, even with poor credit. A person with good credit will usually get an interest rate on a used car between 5 and 7 percent, while many auto companies and lenders will finance a vehicle or OK a loan from 6.7 to 13.5 percent, according to bankrate.com.
Have you managed to find fun and affordable dates?
Your comments are welcome.
Digital dating can be tricky and there are no real rules, other than you should treat someone the way that you’d like to be treated. Sometimes initial emails that you’ve carefully crafted to someone you think you might connect with, don’t pass the test and you either get ignored, or receive the big rejection email.
While you might be used to receiving rejection letters from schools that you’ve applied to or for manuscripts you might have submitted, when it comes to matters of the heart, these notifications can be hurtful and cold.
Below are six actual rejection letters sent to women online. Some passed the test of being polite, others weren’t necessary.
On Match.com, they make it easy for you to reject someone by giving you the option of sending their canned email to someone whose profile didn’t make the cut on their date card.
This one gentleman was so sure he wanted to reject a particular woman who was on his daily match list, that he sent this canned email twice and followed up with an additional personal email a few hours later.
Was it a bit of overkill? I think so.
Online Dating Rejection Letter One (via automated email)
Subject: Match.com Message: Thanks, but…
Some people just don’t know a good thing…
[Profile user’s name] appreciates your taking the time to let him know you’re interested, but doesn’t think you’re a good match for him. Don’t be discouraged. Magic happens when you least expect it. With millions of singles on Match.com, you could be just one click away from finding someone who’s right for you.
Six hours after receiving two canned rejection letters, he decided to send a personalized rejection letter.
Online Dating Rejection Letter Two (via email)
Subject: i am not sure
i dont know vhy….a think you are not funny..
With all of the punctuation problems and three attempts to be rejected, it appears a bullet was dodged. One can only wonder how many others received multiple rejection letters on a daily basis from this guy and why he’s still single. I think he made his point, but they hadn’t even exchanged a single email yet. Three strikes, he’s out.
Online Dating Rejection Letter Three (via email)
It was great meeting you the other evening.
I got the feeling that we most likely are in the “friend pile” and that’s OK.
Lets stay in touch!
All the best!
Did he really want to be “just friends?” Probably not, as men and women can’t be friends, right? However, he was a gentleman about it and didn’t put her down. Leaving the options open? Looking for Plan B?
Online Dating Rejection Letter Four (via email)
How are you?
I really enjoyed the time with you. You’re interesting and fun to talk to–you have great experience and accomplishments and sharing your views with people. It was a quality evening ….thank you.
I wish that I felt that we are a good/right match, but my senses tell me not–so best to carry on with our searches, I believe.
I wish you the best of luck in yours and in finding the great man you deserve.
Yes. He didn’t have the chemistry with her that he was hoping for. It was the most flattering online dating rejection letter that ever crossed my desk. How can you not like this man while he gently let her down? Did he need to send an email at all? No. They didn’t have plans for a second date, nor did he say, “I’ll call you” when he walked her to her car.
Online Dating Rejection Letter Five (via email)
In the department of he was feeling it, but thought she wasn’t, a gentleman sent the following email to his date who he had been excited about. Fortunately, she read between the lines and replied to him to keep the conversation going.
Subject: No Subject
Thanks for a wonderful evening..you are a beautiful accomplished intelligent woman…but pretty clear we don’t mesh = I got that from your parting and body language…I wish you all the best with your career brand and love life.
Rather than ignoring his email, she responded, because she did feel a connection with her date.
Subject: Your Email
Thanks for a lovely evening.
I really enjoyed our conversation and thought we were getting along well, so I was surprised to get your rejection letter today, after over a combination of a dozen phone calls/emails.
I don’t believe that body language is a barometer and it was a cold winter night. I did say I had a great time with you when I said goodbye, which would have been a cue to ask me out for a second date, but you decided not to. I would have welcomed that.
However, I do understand these types of emails…the “it’s not you it’s me…” I don’t believe it had to do with parting after about 3 hours (most dates are much shorter), or my body language, so perhaps you were wrong with your assumption, and so it goes…..
I wish you the best of luck with your search and hope you find someone to mesh with.
He of course replied to her and realized that he was wrong in assuming there wasn’t a connection. In this case, it was salvageable.
Sometimes a rejection letter gives the sender the feeling of power. Other times, they’re hoping to get a reply begging them to consider. Either way, I recommend no contact after a date that didn’t go well, especially if there’s no second date scheduled on the calendar.
Dating can be hard. You’re meshing two people together in one night of conversation to try to decide whether you should go on a second date or not. First impressions matter and we’re human. Sometimes we might have an off night. I think you should always give someone a second chance if you’ve enjoyed their company, rather than sending a unilateral rejection letter.
Have you ever sent a rejection email to someone after a date? Have you ever received one that caught you off guard? Do you think it’s necessary to communicate that you’re not feeling it for someone after a first date? Personalized or canned? I invite you to post your experiences in our comments.
Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.
Julie Spira is the leading online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She creates Irresistible Profiles for singles on the dating scene and is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt.
Photo credits: © indomercy – Fotolia.com
Words can’t describe how super-thrilled I am to be a part of this wonderful community.
Being in the business of love and helping singles find love on the Internet since 1994 is something I’m so proud of. Every day I hold the digital hands of singles and help them ease into taking their relationships from online to offline. I give them the strength and confidence to start over when their relationships run their course and I feature their success stories in our Cyber Love Story of the Week.
Many thanks to the Editors at DatingAdvice.com for acknowledging my passion in this industry that I love so very much and for selecting me as their featured Online Dating Expert. I invite you to sign up for our Free Weekly Flirt newsletter for more online dating advice and to stay in touch.
I thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter
Todd and Rozie were both members of JDate where they were looking for love online.
Both the two of them were frustrated with the search process and were about to let their memberships expire.
Rozie decided to give the online dating game one last shot when she sent Todd an email that simply said, “You look cute. I like your profile.”
Rozie didn’t even have an online dating profile photo posted and most of the details in her profile were left blank.
Todd was hesitant to reply, but figured he’d say hello and ask her to send him a picture. He was glad he did so as when he received Rozie’s photo, he thought she was really cute.
After about one month of email exchanges and a few phone calls, they finally met up in person. Their first date was scheduled for drinks after work, but the conversation led to dinner. Dinner turned into afterglow drinks and their first casual drink date lasted for seven hours! The two went home separately at 2am, only because they needed to get to work the next day.
After seven months of dating, Todd proposed marriage to Rozie in a romantic way at the tallest tower in Krakow, Poland. It was the largest square in Europe.
They married a year and a half later and now have two children.
Congratulations to Todd and Rozie who let the conversation flow and fell in love on JDate
Do you have an online dating story to share?
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. Julie’s the bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating and creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more dating advice, sign up for our Weekly Flirt newsletter and like us at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert
Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter
In between is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with or without a date. This is St. Patrick’s Day.
Although I’m not Irish, I always wear something green, change my Twitter photo to include a leprechaun hat and hope that I’ll have the luck as a friend of the Irish.
Whether you know the history of St. Patrick or not, it’s the perfect time to brush up on your flirting skills to get ready for spring fever. With St. Patrick’s Day on a Sunday, you can start celebrating early and make it a weekend event.
To get into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t need to be Irish. If you practice these expert dating and flirting skills, you’ll likely have a date on your calendar before the weekend is over, or will enjoy the time together with the object of your affection.
Online Dating and Flirting
1. Log onto your online dating site and change your profile photo to wearing something green.
2. Revise your headline or first sentence of your profile to days, “Kiss me if you’re Irish.”
3. Send a text message the the person you’ve had a crush on to say “Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Even if they aren’t Irish, chances are they’ll reply to you.
4. Sign up for eHarmony’s free communication weekend from March 14 – 18 (5 Full Days! #af)
Offline Dating and Flirting
5. If you have a date on the calendar, pick up a green carnation for him or her. Although receiving carnations might appear tacky on Valentine’s Day, a month later it’s fine. Suggest going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade together.
6. Set up a coffee date and order the green tea Frappuccino at Starbucks or meet at an ice cream shop and grab a mint-chocolate ice cream cone.
7. If an Irish pub and drinking green beer isn’t your thing, go to a sushi bar or your favorite Japanese restaurant and sip on some hot green tea and order green-tea ice cream for dessert.
Keep in mind St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to practice the art of flirting. Go ahead and wear that flashing green button to draw attention to yourself. If you are not one to visit a local pub, go to a public place and wear green and start smiling. You have permission to do it all.
Do you have plans to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year?
Julie Spira is an online dating expert, bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating, and is the CEO of CyberDatingExpert.com. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For online dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert
In the April issue of Glamour magazine, I’m quoted along with Chemistry.com’s Dr. Helen Fisher in an article, Stop Googling Your Dates!
Becoming a Cyber-sleuth in your pre-dating phase I believe is detrimental to getting to know someone.
The digital pre-date can last for several hours in front of your computer. From Facebook to Linkedin, Google, and Twitter, you may find yourself excited at one article where your date won a prestigious award, and then in the next moment, cringing when you see his party photos.
“….pre-dating makes you feel like you already “know”each other by the first date. You get this false, euphoric sense of security that you’re in a relationship. Pre-dating accelerates your entire courtship. Just remember, that you really don’t know him; you just think you do…”
As technology continues to develop, a Google search may become as passé as the fax machine. With Google Image Search, one can now find your photo on the Internet or on an online dating site, upload it to Google Image Search and possibly find out your date’s first and last name. Once that piece of the puzzle is solved, the digital door is wide-open.
Take for example a phone call that I recently received from a man whom I did not know. I shared this story on Huffington Post in an article, Google Image Search – Can it Replace Online Dating Sites?
In this scenario, a man I never met uploaded one of my photos he found online. It led him to my media page, YouTube channel, book page, and provided him with details of where I lived and the restaurants I was a regular patron of. Was this creepy? You better believe it. Whether he meant it when he said he wanted to sweep me off my feet or not, I decided against meeting him. Did I miss out on meeting the one? Perhaps next time, he’ll think twice about Googling and telling.
Do you Google your dates before you meet them? Have you checked Facebook to see if you have friends in common or what pages they’ve “liked?” Would you use Google Image Search to widen the opportunities to meet other singles?
At the end of the digital day, you can run, but you can’t hide.
Your comments are welcome.
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene and is the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. For more dating advice, sign up for the free Weekly Flirt, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert.
Meet Rasheda and Brandon, who found love on the free online dating site OKCupid.
Rasheda was ready to give up on Internet dating, but decided to return to OkCupid, where she met Brandon in August of 2012.
After their first date, Rasheda thought Brandon was a really “nice” guy.
Brandon managed to catch her attention by sending her a bouquet of flowers to her office on the Monday following their first date. Continuing to be the good guy, he would send Rasheeda e-cards and suggest interesting dates.
However, after a month, Rasheda decided that Brandon belonged in the “friend zone” (ouch). They stopped dating during the month of October, while she decided whether to date him or another guy.
Fortunately, she came to her senses before losing him completely. The two reconnected in November and went on a romantic date to the Opera. Afterwards, they went dancing, where she realized that she was falling for him.
Brandon invited Rasheda over for Thanksgiving dinner and they’ve been together ever since. The two are planning a romantic trip to the Bahamas this spring.
Congratulations to Rasheda and Brandon who prove that nice guys don’t always finish last and that patience is a virtue.
Do you have an online dating story to share?
Share your Cyber Love Story with us!
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. Julie’s the bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating and creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more dating advice, sign up for our Weekly Flirt newsletter and connect at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert and on Twitter @JulieSpira.
According to a survey by Lab 42, 1/3 of people are breaking up via text, email, and on Facebook.
I strongly believe that if you’re in an intimate relationship or if you’ve committed to dating someone exclusively, calling it quits should happen in person.
Here are six common and inappropriate ways couples are breaking up in a digital world.
The Direct and Unilateral Breakup
1. Text Message. Seeing a text message saying, “It’s not you, it’s me” is inconsiderate. It also shows signs of disrespect and cowardly behavior. If you can type on the phone, you should be able to pick up the phone and dial it as well.
2. Email. The “Dear John” letter of years ago has been replaced with an email saying it’s over. Do you really want to go down in history as the person who sent a digital “Dear John” letter? Type your letter and send it to yourself. Read it the next morning before calling it quits. You might feel different about it the next day and can possibly save your relationship. Remember. An email can be and will be forwarded, shared, or possibly end up in a blog post or magazine.
3. The fax. Although fax machines are as obsolete as a rotary-dial phone, there still are cases where couples are filing for divorce via fax, with one party being in control and the recipient being shattered by the news.
The Passive-Aggressive Breakup
4. Reactivating an Online Dating Profile. If your significant other disappears for a few days and doesn’t return your calls, it might be time to see if they’ve reactivated their online dating profile. Even if it’s active for an hour or a day, it’s likely that this will get noticed by one of your friends. Is it worth losing a relationship over? I say no.
5. Facebook. Relationships are starting and ending on Facebook. I enjoy sharing the success stories on FacebookLoveStories.com, but cringe when I see someone changing their status relationship to “Single” without discussing it with their partner. Worse yet, a friend my see your sweetheart in the arms of another in a photo proudly displayed on his or her Facebook page.
6. The Disappearing Act. Magicians should be left for the magic show, not for your relationship. If your needs aren’t being met or if you’ve found someone else, don’t leave someone hanging and just stop calling. It’s not over until both people realize where they stand.Don’t disappear on someone you once loved when you’ve unilaterally decided it was time to move on.
At the end of the digital day, you should treat people the way that you want to be treated. Don’t go down in history as being a digital dumper. Often the love you have with the person you’ve invested the time with is worth saving and will be worth its weight in gold, compared to the heartbreak you might be creating.
Have you ever ended a relationship digitally? Did someone ever dump you in an email or text? Would you pull a disappearing act to avoid a confrontation?
Your comments are welcome.
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and bestselling author. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more online dating advice, sign up for the Weekly Flirt newsletter, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert.
Photo credit: Pavel Ignatov – Fotolia.com
The end. Or is it?
When a former boyfriend decided to take his profile down so we could date exclusively, he was excited about our future. He was marriage-minded, gave me an office in his home with a beautiful view so I could write, we met each others’ families, and we were both excited about the possibilities of our new relationship going the distance. It was his decision to take his profiles down. He asked me for my help in removing his online dating profiles from OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Senior People Meet. It was a ritual and a milestone in our relationship and he was absolutely sure this is what he wanted to do. But there was a piece of him that still felt uneasy about it.
When a man makes a relationship milestone, he wonders if this is the last woman he’ll ever make love to or ever touch. He wonders if other women would still want him if the relationship doesn’t turn out. My guy was going through a major digital withdrawal and his ego was taking over. He started telling me that his inbox was feeling lonely and he wasn’t getting emails from women anymore. After spending six solid months logging onto three dating sites every day, he had mixed feelings about the situation and felt a bit of a loss in not hearing from admiring women.
Before my guy made the big digital commitment, he would log on to view who wrote to him, but would never write back. He was curious. It was an ego decision, but he wanted to make sure that I knew where he stood and that he didn’t want to date others. I smiled and told him to take his time. There was no rush.
Typically when someone has spent a lot of time on online dating sites, it’s hard to make the final break. They know in the back of their minds if it doesn’t work out, they can go back online at any time and go fishing again for a new date or a mate.
I’ve watched both men and women put up secret profiles or reactivate their profiles temporarily after a bump in the road in their relationships. While this is normal, it’s incredibly hurtful. As big as the digital dating landscape is, there are too many friends and family members who will notice the profile, even if it’s up for a few days or so. They will bust you. It will blow up. It might not be recoverable. Is it worth the risk?
In my book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online, I describe the serial online dater or online dating addict in chapter 12. This man said “I love you,” while on a romantic vacation, while simultaneously logging onto Match.com for hours every night to talk to other women. This, my friends, is emotional cheating. Even if he never took the relationships offline, this act was so hurtful that it resulted in the ending of the relationship with the woman he really did love.
Often a man or woman might go fishing just before making a major commitment to make sure he or she is not making the wrong decision. More often than not, it’s for the ego. We all want to know that we’re loved. It’s so powerful, isn’t it? But is it worth losing your relationship over? Is it considered cheating?
My online dating advice is: If you’re in a committed relationship, I urge you not to blow it by flirting with a former love interest on Facebook or reactivating your online dating profile while checking out your options. If your significant other finds out you’ve reactivated your profile without discussing it with them, don’t be surprised if they either leave, or start withdrawing from the relationship. You just may lose the person you love so much.
If you’ve agreed to be exclusive or “facebook official,” communicate offline with the person you’re in a relationship with, instead of flirting online and looking for other options. If a relationship runs its course, be a grown up about it. Agree together that it’s time to move on, or talk about what needs of yours need addressing to move together to the next stage. Often the love you have with the person you’ve invested the time with is worth saving and will be worth its weight in gold, compared to the heartbreak you might be creating.
Your comments and thoughts are welcome.
Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online and creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert.
Photo credit: Lasse Kristensen – Fotolia.com