Beth Cook is a dating coach and writer. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

Does the online you match the real life you?

Dating poses a unique challenge for me: not everyone wants to date a dating expert.

I’ve had really successful first dates with guys—where they say, “I can’t wait to see you again; I’ll call you later this week”—and then, poof!, they evaporate into thin air and I never hear from them again.

I’ve since learned that at least a couple were turned off by my online presence (as you can imagine, I’m pretty present).

My thoughts on this a year ago were to just let it all hang out. Having a rich online presence will actually help weed out the Googley-eyed guys and gals who aren’t right for you—and spark the interest of those who are.

Now, though, I am a year older and wiser, and after Google searching my name this week, I’d like to amend my previous statement.

I still firmly believe that you should be yourself—in the real world and online—and be OK with the notion that not everybody is going to love you, your dog, and your Twitter feed. However, I also believe that we should periodically clean up our online presence so it reflects the person we are today.

Because I didn’t have to look very hard to find my deserted blogs and abandoned Twitter feeds from years past. Do I need someone to know how I met my ex-boyfriend? What articles I found interesting in 2011? No.

The other thing I’m not sure people need to know about is my former life as an artist, when I made charts and graphs about dating and sexual encounters. I’m certain this is the scariest thing about me to a potential boyfriend.

If you go by this Internet detritus, I look like a girl desperately trying to make sense of romance gone awry—someone who needs data, answers, a formula for love, certainty. When I was making those drawings, that’s exactly who I was: a 24-year-old trying to figure life out. Well, 10 years have passed since then, and guess what, I figured it out (a lot of it, at least).

I’m fairly confident that I can give up the site’s entertainment value in order to save my current online presence from gross misinterpretation.

If the rest of you are anything like me, it’s time for a little online spring cleaning. Take a look at what you have floating out there in cyberspace and ask yourself, “Is this an accurate representation of me?”

I’m sure there are a few things you can feel good about retiring. You know the real YOU of today, but your Google stalker doesn’t. Make sure you don’t lose a date or a job interview because you don’t quite look like yourself online.

Oh, and if anyone can find my Flickr profile, I’d love to see it. While some Internet activities were too easy to find, others have completely disappeared!

Photo by nekochan7