Do you know someone who met their spouse via online dating? Once considered a way for socially awkward people to meet, dating services are now immensely popular with people of all types. But their modern ubiquity hasn’t made navigating the world of internet dating any easier.
There’s a lot of awful dating advice floating around. It’s hard enough to sort through potential matches and evaluate whom you’d like to go out with, but many online daters get tripped up in other areas, too. Let’s try to make some sense of the internet dating world by reviewing some big no-nos that everyone should avoid.
1. Not Considering Safety
It’s easy to get sucked into excitement when you connect with someone who catches your fancy. But it’s important to remember that someone could easily fake their information and pictures on their dating profile. Worse, an attacker could be using the service as a way to find potential victims.
Be smart and don’t let yourself get into a bad situation. Talk with potential matches for a while before you agree to meet them in person. Offer to talk to them for a bit on the phone before you meet up — if they fiddle around that, it’s a bad sign.
If you do agree to meet up, make it in a public place where you have ways to exit if needed. Don’t meet at your house or a remote location, and transport yourself there so you can leave when you wish. It’s also smart to let your family or trusted friends know where you’re going and roughly how long you’ll be there so they’re aware. Of course, you should also avoid drinking too much on a date, which makes you vulnerable.
Make sure the information in your profile doesn’t say too much about you, either. Consider using an alternate email address or Google Voice number to keep your real information hidden. Don’t reveal your full name to people before you’ve gotten to know them.
Hopefully you never run into someone who’s using online dating to find victims, but it’s a real threat you can’t ignore. These tips are even more important if you’re using a free service, where the barrier to entry is low.
2. Using Phony Pictures
Your showcase photo is the first way that people see you. It’s important to make it awesome so that potential matches are intrigued and want to know more!
However, while using blurry photos or pictures with multiple people in them is bad, you can go too far in the other direction, too. Doctoring your photos or using the single best picture of yourself isn’t a fair representation of who you are. If you spend hours in Photoshop to create the perfect set of pictures to hide your flaws, what is your date going to think when they see the real you?
Don’t use outdated photos, either. If your favorite picture of yourself is ten years old, that’s again not a good picture of who you are today. Ask a friend to take a few pictures of you with your smartphone camera. People who are looking for a companion on dating websites want to see an honest representation of you.
The best profile photo is one that shows you as you naturally are. Have a headshot, a full-body shot, and a picture of you doing something that you love. If someone sees those and doesn’t have any interest, they aren’t the one for you anyway.
3. Lying on Your Profile
It’s easy to hide the truth in your pictures, but lying on other parts of your profile isn’t wise either. You should answer questionnaires honestly and don’t fudge the facts on your main profile. If you’re a little overweight, don’t claim that you’re slim. Don’t pretend to enjoy certain activities if you despise or haven’t even tried them. Lying isn’t a good foundation for any relationship, and eventually these falsities will come out.
The right person will love you not just because of traits they like about you, but despite your flaws. What’s more, something you hate about yourself (perhaps freckles, the way you laugh, or your passion for 1950s cinema) could end up being something your match loves about you.
Don’t try to disguise who you are — it’s exhausting.
All this being said, make sure to fill up your profile with info! A mostly blank page doesn’t give potential matches enough to go off when they’re evaluating you.
4. Sending Boring or Creepy Messages
Okay, so you’ve finally found someone whom you find attractive and you want to send them a message or email. This is another critical time that’s easy to screw up. Come up with something that they haven’t heard a hundred times already.
Starting a conversation with “Hey” or “What’s up?” is boring and shows that you put about two seconds of effort into it. Don’t introduce yourself with a five-paragraph stock writeup that goes into way too much personal detail.
Ideally, you should bring up something you found interesting in the person’s profile so they know you read it. Bring up an interest you have in common and end with a good question to provoke a good response. There’s nothing worse than messages that are difficult to respond to.
— Karina Pamamull (@datelicious) December 8, 2016
Make sure that you also don’t give off a creepy vibe in your initial messages. Don’t ask for personal information, tell them that they’re exactly what you’ve been looking for, or send weird pictures. This will scare people off.
Be yourself and see what comes of it. If someone doesn’t reply right away, they could be busy with work or travel. Give them a few days and don’t obsess over waiting for their response.
5. Being Too Picky or Idealistic
The world of online dating lends itself to some interesting challenges. When you meet someone in person, you don’t have a stack of other people a click away to compare them to. Online, because you’re looking through a list of comparable profiles and pictures, it’s easy to get selective and obsess over finding the perfect person. Don’t do this or it will turn into decision paralysis.
If she likes jazz music and you prefer country, that’s not a reason to forgo contacting her. Instead, think about the big ideas — does she live in the same city as you? If you thrive on having intelligent conversations, does his profile suggest that he’s interested in the same? Don’t compromise your values, of course, but understand that you aren’t looking for someone who 100 percent matches your vision of an ideal mate.
This holds once you’ve agreed to meet the person, too. Even if their profile seems great, you’ll learn so much more about someone from the way they act in person. Here, you’ll notice how often they laugh, their tone, if they check their phone too much, and other important details that you can’t ascertain from an online profile.
Once you’ve gone on a few dates, resist the temptation to think that you’ve found your soul mate. You very well could be entering a great relationship, but building one takes time. Don’t obsess over the idea of dating someone — get to know the person you’ve met and evaluate if they’re a good match for you.
6. Not Using the Right Service for You
If from nothing else than TV commercials, you probably know that there are an absurd amount of dating websites. When you’re not having much luck meeting people, perhaps the cause could be that you’re not on the right service.
Dating websites and apps differ in their user expectations. Free dating sites are often more casual than paid ones, so if you’re serious about finding a match, consider paying to join one. If you’re of a certain race, age, or religion, you can use a service that caters to others like you. And there are a host of mobile apps that are generally geared towards the casual culture of the younger generations.
Compare this sample selection of dating services and try one out if the one you’re using isn’t working:
- OKCupid is one of the largest free dating sites. It prides itself on its matching algorithm and interesting questions that fuel it. Recommended for those who want to test the online dating waters free.
- Match.com is one of the largest paid dating services. It uses a chemistry personality test to find people whom you’re likely to click with.
- SeniorMatch aims at older singles. Nobody under 30 can join and it focuses on those who are older than 50.
- EliteSingles is a professional dating site. It’s advertised for those who want a serious relationship, and over 80 percent of members hold a college degree.
- LavaLife aims to “make dating fun again” and gives tips along the way to help you have a better experience.
You probably think of Tinder when you consider mobile dating apps. Despite its issues, Tinder is popular with teens and 20-somethings due to its simple profiles, quick swiping to say yes or no to a potential match, and enabling hookups. If Tinder doesn’t appeal to you and you’re looking for something more serious, check out some alternative apps that do it differently, like the newly popular Bumble. Most major dating sites also have mobile apps so you can keep up on the go.
What Are Your Online Dating Rules?
Along with the regular challenges of dating, doing so online adds some unique issues. Hopefully, these tips help you navigate the world of dating on the internet and pursue some potential matches. Maybe you wanted to check for common pitfalls before starting, or needed to re-evaluate your strategy after striking out. Whatever the case, don’t get discouraged. Dating can be frustrating, but eventually you’ll find someone who makes it all worth it.
No matter which service you try, review online relationship tips that work magic.
Please share with us your online dating commandments. If you have a success story about dating online or a lesson that can teach others, we invite you to leave a comment.
Image Credits: Mladen Mitrinovic/Shutterstock