It's a cold, hard world, and that includes the dating world.Meeting a total stranger I've contacted for the first time online makes me feel anxious.

How can I connect openheartedly, even minimally, with someone with whom I share no history? Why does it feel all right to offer a woman a small window into my heart, a glimpse into my persona?

Talking about how we feel about our lives, and not just what we think about them, helps each of us gain a deeper insight.

Telling a woman how I'm feeling about my work, friendships, relationship needs, passions and interests, on a deeper than surface level, tells her, "Know enough about me to decide if a second date is warranted." Even if this is our first and last date, we have decided based on honest and authentic shared information.

But even before a first date, I try to make the kinds of choices that make being openhearted feel less risky.

Compromise is a part of every relationship, but having to negotiate how we spend our winters before we even begin dating, seems counterintuitive.

Enough will come up in the course of a relationship that will require compromise without entering into a situation that necessitates it before it even begins.I work out and take pride in being in shape and healthy.I try to interpret what women write about themselves in their online dating profiles. But when I take some time I frequently discover relevant information.I accomplish this by actually reading their profiles, not just scanning them. If I hope to meet my soul mate, I have to be circumspect. I respect a woman's boundaries around drinking, and at the same time, hope that my occasional glass of wine isn't a deal killer. Extreme religious attitudes preclude me from feeling openhearted, particularly if the same level of zealotry is expected in return.I'm not much of a drinker, but I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, usually with dinner. I feel more openhearted with a woman who describes herself as spiritual, but not religious.When a woman posts that she never drinks in her profile, I consider the possible reasons for her absolute avoidance. I grew up in Boston in a drafty, old house, so the thought of skiing sends a familiar chill up my spine.