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OK, you’ve decided to take the plunge.

You’re single — either by choice, circumstance, or Cupid simply not pointing his arrow your way — but have decided the situation needs to change. You are absolutely clueless as to how to go about it.

You have grown tired of the usual methods of meeting potential romantic partners. The frustrating infinite loop of bars, family, work, the gym, and friends of friends has led to more dead ends than dates. Now, you find yourself more lonely than loved.

So you’re trying online dating for the first time or rewriting an existing profile that didn’t exactly set the Internet ablaze the first time. You’re sitting in front of your laptop, the cursor blinking demandingly, but you have no idea what to say or how to say it.

More important, how can you make your words and photos achieve your goal of hooking the attention of potential partners? After all, you have thousands upon thousands of competitors after the same thing.

Estimates suggest that more than 10 million Americans participate in online dating and they’re not just casually browsing. The time spent per visit averages a relatively lengthy 22 minutes. While that’s a good amount of time, it’s a blur amid all the crush of profiles, winks and distractions to sort through.

A person may send out hundreds of invitations, often indiscriminately, to potential dates before receiving even one response. Potential dates may receive hundreds of invitations per day and will subconsciously filter out ones that don’t interest them.

With these high volumes, the pressure is enormous to make decisions quickly. When time is limited, it is essential to encourage the recipients of invitations to respond positively and instinctively, almost without thinking.

So, the immediate aim is to get to that first date, that first face-to-face meeting. But it can seem impossible to break through the flood of online profiles to make yourself stand out.

At this point, if you’re thinking that online dating isn’t for you, that you can afford to ignore it altogether, the rest of the dating world has already made its choice. Much of the dating population has discovered that online dating is unique from, and often has superior outcomes, to conventional offline dating.

The online dating industry has exploded over the last decade. In 2013, it reached $2 billion in revenue and it is now the third most popular way to meet someone, coming behind the much older practices of getting to know someone through friends or meeting at a social gathering. That same year, there were more than 2,500 dating sites in the United States and it has only increased since then.

It has shifted the ground for the entire romantic process, from selecting a partner to asking someone out. The number of potential partners available to any one dater is unthinkable by other methods. More of us will first encounter romantic partners online.

Yet there’s a downside: the algorithms of most dating sites are not especially effective. But you can use online dating’s strengths and weaknesses to your advantage by employing what has been learned from psychological science.

This is where Clueless, Loveless, Dateless comes in. While there’s a lot of dating advice out there — in books, online, and from dating sites themselves — little of it is based on scientific psychological and medical research.

In Clueless, Loveless, Dateless, doctors Khalid S. Khan, professor of Women’s Health and clinical epidemiology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Sameer Chaudhry, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, have sifted through nearly 4,000 peer-reviewed research papers on the topics of dating, attraction and persuasion and come up with the ways that will lift your profile out of the crowd and give you a leg up on all that online competition.

Khan and Chaudhry’s method, originally published in the British Medical Journal’s Evidence Based Medicine in February 2015, has won them global attention from such layman’s sources as The New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian, Australia’s Channel 9, and ABC. Altmetric (, an index of online activity activity concerning a scientific article, noted it to be one of the highest-scoring papers, ranking in the top 5 percent of all accessed.

Even if you think your profile is strong, chances are it could be better because some of what you should be doing may be counterintuitive. Many people seeking dates online are doomed from the start because a number of frequently used screen names, headlines, descriptions of personal traits and messages have been scientifically shown to be ineffective in attraction and persuasion. The evidence-based approach to online dating outlined in this book is more likely to produce results.

Khan and Chaudhry’s method is designed to work for both men and women of all races and cultures as well as for those — such as gays or middle-aged or older heterosexuals — for whom the potential dating pool is smaller.

After all, as doctors, Khan and Chaudhry realize that we are not rational creatures. When it comes to romantic love, our limbic system — a part of the brain that deals with emotions — does the job for us without the need for conscious thinking.

Romantic desire motivates us to look for a range of potential partners and romantic attraction motivates us to pursue specific partners. Understanding the research on limbic responses in early stage romantic love helps unlock the key to online dating.

While there are plenty of resources available regarding online dating, Khan and Chaudhry are the only ones using the scientific knowledge gleaned from what’s known about the limbic system at the heart of their approach.

So plunge ahead and let’s get that cursor moving...

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