Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of online dating, courtesy of some great comments relationship coaches and people who have succeeded in online dating have submitted to us. First off, you should be aware of some of the common scams and pitfalls with online dating (see here). Then, consider some of the following points (for each one, I’ve linked to the full comment(s) for it):
- Consider going for a walk or a small hike as a first date, which relieves the pressure of being directly across from the person and always having to think of something to say (link)
- Try to avoid being cliche and be tactful when showing interest (link)
- Avoid just saying “Hey” as your first message — much better to come up with a personalized, genuine comment about the person (again, just try to avoid cliches 😉 ) (link)
- Think about what you’re looking for (long term relationship, short term, qualities of your ideal partner etc) and try to find suitable dating sites for your goals (there are loads of niche dating sites these days) (link)
- Always BE HONEST about what you’re looking for and yourself, because the truth will come out sooner or later anyway (many comments mention this and for good reason)
- Take it slow (link)
- Put some real effort into your profile (link)
You can read the first comment below for a general walkthrough of online dating. But beyond that, I really recommend having a read through all the comments below in their entirety and I’m confident you’ll get much better results from online dating. Good luck!
Also, if you have any tips for online dating beyond what’s already been submitted, you’re welcome to make a submission here.
Your online dating profile is your initial “marketing brochure” of yourself in the dating market. Create a catchy profile name that describes you or in many dating apps it is your first name. Have a well profile introduction that describes you and a few nice pictures of yourself. It is good to state your objective there too, in other words what you are ideally seeking. That way you are more likely to attract people with similar objective. Do not have a blank profile with no picture and no introduction of yourself. I see so many online dating/app dating profiles without a profile text or have some text but no picture.
Leave your friends out of dating profile pictures, it is confusing to see who you are there. And most definetely leave your ex girlfriends or ex boyfriends out of dating profile pictures. Needless to say no bathroom selfies. Make your pictures look nice.
Make some thought into introducing yourself when sending a first message. You are marketing yourself from a pool of candidates. That is your first impression and determines if you hear back or not from someone. Your first and only goal is to introduce yourself and after that start an interactive conversation. Many people just say “hi” or “how are you” in the first message and when you get so many of those it just gets tiring to even reply. You want to stand out.
I would not ask long questions in your first message like what is your favorite places to travel, your favorite foods without properly introducing yourself first. That is do not ask long questions in the first introduction note. It is not considerate getting no introduction in the first message and then someone already asking for more when not bothering to give no information of themselves. Once you have established interest and effort first, then you are much better off asking some thoughtful questions and having an actual interactive communication.
Getting to the date
You do not want to stay in the online typing mode any longer than necessary. Keep it short in the texting phase. A few messages back and worth typing text is ok, but then move to either talking on the phone, or meeting them.
If you are geographically in a long distance, start by talking via Skype, Zoom, instant messenger or similar video or voice connection to determine compatibility. Nowadays during pandemic with social distancing in place, initial video date is also a great idea to do locally as well. It is also time saving to see that way first before determining if you want to go to actual in person date.
Video date opens up to more opportunities nationwide and worldwide. You are not limited by one city or country. The bigger the pool, the more options you have to choose from.
It is always important to remember safety, so at first it is advisable to use an anonymous nick name registering for a video call service to determine if this person is someone you want to continue to get to know. You do not know this person yet so you want to get to know them a bit first. For example using Skype or similar video call service you can create an anonymous id for this purpose. For women in particular it is an important safety measure. If someone cannot understand safety then you do not want to keep talking with them anyways. When you feel you know a person more and have gotten to know them more then you can share your other contact information when you feel comfortable to do so. Always listen to your gut instinct.
Of course face to face live date is always the best, but during pandemic a phone/virtual video date is a smart way to start with. The benefit of that is that it is safe during social distancing is in place. It is also less time taking, you can do it from the comfort of your home. That being said, show up for the date looking like you are going on a date. When you do meet for a live in person date, meet in a public place and of course with social distancing in place during these days and wearing a mask.
Be aware of scammers
Some signs to recognize an online dating scammer is that someone just gives too much too soon like starting to confess their feelings when they clearly do not even know you. Online dating scammers like to take the conversation very quickly away off from the dating site or app because that way they cannot be monitored by the dating site security. Many online dating scammers like to initiate talk to instant messaging service Whats App, and the reason for that is because it is totally encrypted. I would advise not to use Whats App as a first choice as it is your actual name and phone number in that.
--Elisa Vaherno, certified science-based dating and relationship coach, @Nordiclovecoach on Instagram
1. If you receive a messaging saying something like this: “My friend saw you over my shoulder. He thinks you’re beautiful. I’ve found my girlfriend and am closing my account. Send me your email so he can contact you.”—SCAM.
2. If you start telling me about your cancer-ridden brother and how you don't really live in X state—SCAM.
3. If you list your education and profession, and change it the next day— SCAM.
4. If they have a higher education (i.e., PhD or master’s degree) look closely and realize probably a scam, so pay attention. Scammers want to look desirable and will put higher education degrees to look more impressive.
5. If your phone number is one of those weird 1+... outside the country or state—SCAM
6. If anyone ever insinuates or asks you for money of any kind including buying his kid a cell phone, etc.—SCAM
7. If anyone BRAGS they can buy you the world (or build you a really nice closet)—SCAM
8. If they tell you tales of woe and how you can help them—SCAM
9. If you don't have a profile picture, WARNING the person is probably hiding from his/her wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend. Don’t accept lame excuses work, such as: I want to maintain my privacy. Yeah, I bet you do.
10. Even if the person has a profile picture, but he/she wants to only meet you for lunches and never invites you out on the weekend— he/she is married.
11. If he/she tells you some lame story about living with his/her grandma who got upset when he got stalked—liar and this person is married or in a relationship.
12. If he/she only calls you during the day—the person is married.
13. If he/she uses WhatsAp vs. regular texting—the person is married.
14. If he/she asks you for money, say NO! Real men don't ask women for money. And women don’t ask for money when they don’t know you.
15. If he/she never invites you to his/her house—the person is married.
16. If you can't call him/her and reach him/her and he/she can only call you—this person is married.
17. If he/she won't give you his/her address—this person is married..
18. If he/she won't stay the night—this person is married.
--Candee Annaud, author of Love in the Time of Corona - Your Guide to Safe and Fun Fantasies
Once you've decided you want to connect with someone, move off the app and into real life texting/facetime communication. The app is a barrier. If you were in a bar and saw someone you liked you'd walk up to them and chat and walk away with a phone number or date hypothetically. Do the same thing with online dating. Get a date set up for something socially distant. Take a walk, grab a coffee, go for a bike ride and take an assertive approach to dating so that you can experience that person without the barriers of online communication.
--Kelly Keck, LMHC, kellykecktherapy.net
My outlook on dating apps has always been, it's what you make of it. For example, Tinder has been deemed just the hookup app, but hands-down it's my favorite dating app for finding real, meaningful relationships OR casual flings. I've been on and off of Tinder for years now I've had every relationship type under the sun using it: long term relationship, flings, even just friendship (when we both discovered we wanted a hiking friend). Honestly, I think the best way to make dating apps work for you is by keeping expectations low. Sure, put effort into presenting yourself nicely on dating apps, but try to meet up for a casual cup of coffee or a drink or something within the first week of messaging. My secret tip for a great first date is going on a walk or small hike, because I despise the pressure of having to stare across the table at someone I barely know, feeling forced to talk and be interested in them. If you're on a walk, then neither of you feel the pressure of being directly across from the other, you have outside stimulation to take some focus off of the both of you, AND exercising releases endorphins, which will only make both of you feel more happy! Avoid messaging a lot before you've actually met; it just builds expectations. This is another reason I like Tinder because it's so quick and easy to set up a profile–I think Tinder is the dating app for people who are exhausted by dating apps.
--Hilary Bird, @green.van.go on Instagram
I met my last partner of 4 years on Bumble and continue to use online dating apps now that I am single again. My biggest piece of advice for people on the apps is to have fun with it and use it as an opportunity to get to know yourself better. I'm not trying to find the one on the apps but to learn more about what I like and don't let and to try new things.
I've had opportunities to hike, surf, climb, paddleboard, and mountain bike by not having expectations or taking it too seriously (even if I'm serious about finding a partner). Use dating apps as a practice of getting curious and trusting your intuition. Give people a chance and if you're not feeling it or something seems off, move on! 'No' is an incredibly powerful word.
If that's something you struggle with make a list of non-negotiables rooted in how you want to feel around your future partner (safe, sexy, happy, maybe you're laughing frequently, etc.) This list can help you get clear on what you're looking for and can feel permission-giving to move on without making the other person bad or that there is something wrong with them. They just aren't for you and that's ok!
You're not here to fix anyone or change them. The same goes for you. Dating can also be a low stakes way to practice what it looks like showing up as your most authentic self and accepting that you won't be for everyone either. But the right people will stick around and continue to show up. That will lead to a stronger relationship where both people can be their most authentic selves. No mask. No performing. That leads to love in it's purest form.
--Jenell Riesner, The True North Collective
About 3.5 years ago I met my boyfriend via match.com. Before I met him, I probably spent a year and a half on different dating apps. Overall, it was an interesting experience. My advice to people trying it out is:
1-you will attract what you put out there so be honest and authentic describing yourself and what you want.
2- There are more nice people out there but there are quite a few unstable ones so ensure that you protect yourself and your identity until you are comfortable enough to meet the person. Best way to do that is to talk with them via the app and if comfortable move to some different messaging platform that hides your phone number and or your identity. I don’t recommend any particular one, just choose one you know.
3- tell your friends when you’re meeting somebody in person. Give your friends your date’s contact information, picture, etc. Trust me, better safe than sorry.
--Lee Smith, iamanempress
Don't be cliche. This can be harder than you think, because, for example, if you're a man swiping for women you're probably not seeing all the profiles of the men like you trying to catch girls' attention. You might not know that literally every other guy on there also has an Office quote on his bio, a shirtless pic of him boating, and a joke about him playing with his nephews and how good he is with kids. That's why you need to figure out what's trending and be different. This will improve your rate of matching and make you more noticeable.
Also, go easy on the compliments and be tactful when showing interest. This is especially important for men. There's a certain mistrust that people have towards dating apps, and when you match with a girl and immediately start flirting, complimenting, and saying that you want to get together, this comes across as creepy and might flag you as a predator, or someone who's desperate. Instead, start the conversation with a witty or genuine remark about her bio, and let the conversation do whatever it's going to do.
Also, a personalized, witty message will improve the likelihood that he/she responds at all. When I met my wife on a dating app, I had to double message her to get her to respond at first. She didn't respond to the first message because all it said was hey. Luckily, from the depths of my creative brain, I was able to come up with something slightly more personalized for the second message, and then soon enough we were chatting, and planning our first date together.
--Ryan Cook, Thefitboxx.com
Online dating for the first time can be exciting and at the same time overwhelming and scary if you do not know where to start and what to expect. For this reason, my first tip is to examine what your relationship goals are or what you are looking for in a partner. Asking yourself questions such as, Am I looking for a long-term serious relationship or do I just want to hook up?, If I want a serious relationship, what values and characteristics are important to me (e.g. religion, education, marriage, etc.)?, asking questions like these will not only help you narrow down dating sites but it will also help you search for matches when using the dating site's search tools.
Once you know what type of relationship you are looking for or the characteristics that you would like in a partner, you can begin to search for dating sites that cater to what you are looking for. For example, if religion is important to you, then you can look for dating sites that cater to your specific religion; if you are looking to date a specific race, then search for dating sites that cater to that race; if you are not picky then search for dating sites that cater to all; Searching for the right dating site can take time, this is why dating site reviews can help, as they can depict a good picture of what to expect and whether it is worth your time.
When interacting with matches or other members of a dating site, it is important to be honest about who you are and what your dating intentions are. This transparency should also be noted in your profile, as doing so will help attract the right matches. Being familiar with online dating fraud and scamming behavior is also important; therefore, make sure you take the time to educate yourself on typical online dating scamming behavior before you engage in any dating platform, as it will increase your chances of not being a victim to online dating frauds.
--Stephania Cruz, Datingpilot
My one piece of advice is be honest. Don't tell people what you think they want to hear. For example, if in a girl's profile it says she likes guys who know how to ride a horse, don't falsely tell her you know how to ride a horse. If you are not what she is looking for, chances are she is also not what you are looking for. You won't be compatible. You will waste valuable time and money trying to make it work, but the truth will come out after a couple of dates and you have wasted all that time.
--Oliver Bravo, Best Lawsuit Loans
If I could gather up just one tip, from my experiences and those of women I talk to, it would be to take it slow. That includes not getting too wrapped up in the chats beforehand. Sure, get to know the person a bit but that can't truly happen until you meet face-to-face.
Give yourself some breathing room between dates, as well. No matter how into the person you think you are - this time to reflect is as important as the dates.
--Patricia Johnson, Pedal Lovers
Here is my #1 tip for people trying online dating for the first time:
Take the time to craft the best possible profile.
Way too many people just want to “see what’s out there” on Tinder, so they put minimal effort into writing their bio and use whatever pictures they have handy on their phone.
If it only takes you a few minutes to complete your profile, chances are you’re not going to match with the high-quality people you’re interested in, or get many responses to your messages. Then you get discouraged, and think “Online dating isn’t working for me.”
Online dating does work - but only if you market yourself in an effective way that makes people want to know more about you.
Dating apps are all about first impressions, and users have a seemingly endless queue of profiles to swipe through. If yours isn’t compelling, you won’t get many matches. And if you don’t match often, the app’s algorithm might start showing your profile to fewer and fewer people - so it’s a vicious cycle.
Your primary photo is the most important aspect of your profile, so choose it wisely. It should be crystal clear and taken in flattering lighting conditions, preferably outside in natural sunlight. “Headshot” proportions tend to be most effective, and use an image where you’re making strong eye contact with the camera for an instant connection with the viewer.
Oftentimes on a dating app a strong primary photo is all you need to convince someone to swipe right, so if you don’t have decent photos go outside and take some! If you’re social distancing, you can prop your phone up outside and use the camera’s timer function.
That’s better than taking selfies, because if you don’t have a selfie-stick it can be hard to get a flattering angle. Besides, an all-selfie lineup isn’t very interesting - you want a photo lineup that gives your potential matches a sense of your personality, interests and daily life.
When you write your bio, mention something you like about your job, a few of your favorite hobbies and interests, and what type of person you’re looking for. End it by asking your potential matches a question - something easy and fun to answer, like “Once the travel bans lift, where are you heading first?” That will make it easy for matches to send you a message - all they need to do is answer your question!
--Scott Valdez, VIDA