The rules of dating have changed. In a world where meeting people for the purposed of finding a romantic partner has been migrated to an online shopping experience, making dating overwhelming, especially if you have been off the market for a number of years. The following guide is meant to help you navigate the waters of the online dating world.
- MODESTY IS A TURN-OFF
Many dating profiles start with statements like: “I’m no good at this kind of thing” or “I’ve never done this, but here goes…” You are not doing yourself any favors by sounding too modest. The reader actually sees this type of honesty as low self-esteem and a putdown. If you put yourself down, you won’t sound attractively self-effacing. You’ll actually sound needy and insecure.
- BRAGGING IS JUST AS BAD
Confidence is sexy; arrogance is not. “I cook a mean lasagna and I’ll always try to make you laugh” is good, but “I have a fantastic job and no-one can understand why I’m single” is not.
- “I LOVE MUSIC AND BEING WITH FRIENDS.”
The aim of the online dating game is to catch the eye of someone you have lots in common with. You do this by being original and, above all, specific about your interests. Instead of saying that you like sunsets, mention the best sunset you’ve ever seen. Say which music you like, and your favorite places to go with your friends. Specific information does more than make you sound interesting – it also gives potential dates something to write to you about.
- NEVER ADMIT THAT YOUR FRIEND WROTE YOUR PROFILE
“I asked my friend to describe me, and here’s what he/she wrote…” is a cop-out and frankly lame. By writing this in your profile, you’re telling people that you’re not smart or self-aware enough to write it yourself.
- ZIP UP YOUR BAGGAGE & LOCK IT AWAY
Most living grown-ups have a history of exes, hang-ups and maybe a nervous breakdown or two. But never admit it to a new or potential lover. They know that you have a past, but they don’t want to hear about it. Keep it to yourself until you know each other better.
- DITCH THE WISH LIST
Some online dating profiles read like shopping lists. They’re looking for someone with brown eyes, short hair, between 5’10” and 6′, from South – Charlotte, with at least a Masters Degree, and so on. These lists are off-putting for two reasons. First, they make you sound like a control freak. Second, the reader assumes this is either your ex or everything your ex was not! Make what you are looking for more exciting and simple.
- NO PHOTO? NO CHANCE
Don’t even think about posting a dating profile without a photo. A picture-less ad says: “I am so unattractive I didn’t want to risk a photo,” “I am married,” or “I am on the run.”
- ONLY ONE PHOTO? HMM…
Everyone who likes your main photo will want to see more. Not because they can’t get enough of you, but because a single photo is not a reliable indicator of what you look like. Post at least two snaps, one as a headshot and the second as a full body shot.
- DON’T LIE WITH THE CAMERA
An overly flattering photo will backfire. The potential dates come knocking, and then what? You meet, and the blood drains from their face as they realize that your photo was taken 10 years, five stone and 500 wrinkles ago. Make sure your photos are within the past 6 months to a year, but no more! They have to represent you at the present moment, not when you were in College.
- SEXY PICS WILL GET YOU NOWHERE
Whether you’re a man or a woman, a photo with your shirt off makes you look desperate and/or only interested in sex. Keep something for the imagination, please! Might I also add that taking a self in the mirror is not a wise idea either!
- DON’T FALL IN LUST WITH A PHOTO
Use photos and emails for spotting potential, but don’t start fancying the pants off a two-dimensional image. You may be disappointed in person.
- YOU MIGHT NOT GET ANY EMAILS
This is a cruel fact of life for online dating beginners, especially men. More men than women advertise on most dating sites, so the girls get the pick of the bunch. Don’t get despondent. Read the profiles that get most views, and pick up tips from them. Tweak your profile and try changing your photos. Also don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Dating today is a 2 way street – DO NOT sit an wait for someone to come find you.
- PLAYING HARD TO GET DOESN’T WORK
Be proactive. You don’t have to write someone an epic love letter, in fact please don’t – just pick out a couple of appealing points from their profile and write a quick intro email. Likewise, you won’t “keep them keen” by making them wait days for a reply. They’ll find someone else to date. Time moves fast in online dating.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO REPLY
Some rookies assume that they must answer every email, even if it’s “thanks, but no thanks”. Don’t bother. “Thanks but no thanks” can feel more hurtful than no reply.
- MEET QUICKLY, OR STOP EMAILING
Don’t allow an email conversation to drag on for weeks without a date. You may think you’re “connecting”, but you can’t judge chemistry unless you meet up. Six emails in total – not each – is enough to know whether you want a date.
- DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM A FIRST DATE
You’re meeting a stranger. Chances are that you won’t fancy each other, or that only one of you will fancy the other. So don’t fantasize too much.
- IT MAY TAKE MANY DATES TO FIND SOMEONE YOU LIKE
It’s easy to lose faith when your first few dates don’t work out. It’s very unusual for someone to find a good match in his or her first few attempts. See it all as experience, not as proof that you’re a loser (or that everyone else is a loser). Learn from your bad and boring dates and try again.
- CALL THEM THE NEXT DAY
Ignore those rules about waiting three days to get in touch. If you like someone, you have nothing to lose by letting him or her know. If they are interested, they’ll be happy that you called. If they’re not interested, at least you’ll know – and you can move on to the next date.