I am by no means an expert at online dating. But considering that I met my husband on a dating website, I must have done something right.
An NPR article published a few years ago reveals that Asian women and Caucasian men are the most favored demographics when it comes to online dating. In that regard, my husband and I did have an advantage in the online dating sphere. However, the number of people who are using dating websites to meet new people is now higher than ever. It gives you an opportunity to interact with people you may never have met otherwise in a safe environment.
Obviously, I cannot guarantee that you will find a lifelong partner on an online dating website, but these tips will help you to utilize this tool in the most effective way possible.
Spend time on your profile
Your profile is the only way other people can learn about who you are, so use it to express yourself! If you only spend 5 minutes on it, no one will be able to get a clear picture of what you’re about, and it will seem like you’re not serious about meeting anyone new. Talk about your likes and dislikes, your childhood, your occupation – whatever you feel like represents the person that you are. Try to incorporate your sense of humor into the answers as well because that can be an important compatibility factor.
Answer as many questions as possible
On websites where compatibility is determined through the answers you give to questions (OkCupid, eHarmony, etc.), take the time to answer as many questions as possible. Although it’s not imperative that a couple has everything in common, it certainly provides a starting point, especially for things that are not negotiable. Which leads us to…
Spell out any non-negotiables clearly
Either in your profile or in the first few conversations that you have with a new person, make sure they understand what types of things you are not willing to negotiate on. These things may include religion, drug use, or anything else that you may feel strongly about. Have these things out in the open early on so that if an incompatibility does exist, no more time is spent on getting to know the wrong person.
Post multiple photos of how you currently look
We all want to put our best face forward when it comes to posting pictures, but using an outdated photo that does not accurately reflect how you look will only create problems down the road (unless you intend on having a purely online relationship). Use pictures with good lighting and taken from flattering angles, but don’t use a photo that is ten years old or 40 pounds off from what you actually weigh. Posting more pictures will give other people a better idea of what to expect if/when they meet you in person and whether or not they are attracted to you.
Send meaningful messages (quality over quantity)
When you find someone that you think you may be interested in, don’t be afraid to send them a message. The worst thing they can say is no (or don’t respond). The first impression message is a pretty big deal. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The first message should NOT be “Hey, what’s up?” or “I like your pics.”
First, let the other person know that you took the time to read their profile. Talk about the things you liked reading about them and why you think the two of you would be a good fit. Keep it lighthearted, add some humor, and don’t ramble on for too long. At the end of the message, ask some easy follow-up questions, such as “I see you like to run. Have you participated in any races?” This will make it easier for them to have something to write in their response and will also show them you are interested in learning more. Keep asking questions in subsequent messages to keep the conversation flowing as easily as possible. You can suggest moving the conversation to text or another mode of communication if you feel comfortable.
Don’t get ahead of yourself, be realistic
Don’t get your heart set on a specific person prematurely. Just because you may think you’ve met your soul mate after reading their profile does not mean this is necessarily the reality. Try not to get overly attached to the idea of a person that you may have conjured up in your head before actually getting to know the person. Be open to the idea that this person may not be exactly what you are expecting and to take things one step at a time.
Arrange to meet as soon as you feel comfortable
It’s definitely a good idea to keep interactions online-based in the beginning, for safety reasons. Be sure to look out for red flags that they’re not being honest and don’t proceed if you have any doubts. However, once you feel comfortable enough, arrange a meeting in a public place, and let a friend or family member know where you will be. The longer that you talk to a person via messaging or even on the phone without meeting them, the more likely you are to form an unrealistic idea of them in your mind – one that they couldn’t possibly live up to. In a lot of cases, you will have a much better idea of whether or not the relationship could progress after the very first meeting. If you realize after the meeting that they are not what you are looking for…
Be honest if you aren’t interested, don’t lead them on
Don’t string someone along just because you are scared to hurt their feelings or reject them. Making them think something may happen when you already know it won’t be much harder to deal with in the long run. Be nice but direct and tell them that you have enjoyed getting to know them but don’t think the two of you are compatible. Don’t feel guilty about being honest about your true feelings.
It can be easy to feel frustrated after not finding anyone that you click with after a few months of trying. Don’t give up. These things can take time, and you never know when you might meet the person you spend the rest of your life with.
Don’t be ashamed to tell people you are dating online
Using an online dating website does NOT mean you are desperate, unattractive, or unlovable. Thankfully, the stigmas surrounding online dating are beginning to disappear, but some people are still hesitant to reveal that they are online dating or that they did not meet their spouse the “natural” way. With technology advancing at lightning speed, meeting online is becoming the new normal. When I was contemplating trying online dating, the question that I kept asking myself was, “If I were to meet my spouse on a website, would I be upset that this was the way that we met?” My answer was always a resounding NO. Given the choice between meeting my spouse through online dating or not meeting him at all, I think most people will agree with my perspective.
Good luck with all of your online dating endeavors. Have fun and stay safe!