Online dating…In theory, it sounds great. You basically do online shopping for partners.
There are thousands of available people, all looking to date, and you simply send them a message if you’re interested. If they like you back, they’ll respond, you’ll go on a date, and live happily ever after.
Sounds amazing, right?
However, the reality of online dating can be much different than you’d expect. Even though many people now consider online dating as a great way to find a new partner, not all of them succeed in finding that person.
Not every frog you kiss is going to turn into a prince/princess. Some will just stay frogs, and you might end up kissing a lot of them. You might start feeling like you’re crazy for thinking one of those frogs could be The One. And the truth is, one of them can, but will you get to that one before you give up?
Online dating can be exhausting. When you meet a lot of people, either online or in person, you can end up with nothing to show for it. Instead of finding The One as you’d hoped, you find a lot of people who are wrong for you.
So, can you find your ideal match while dating online? Isn’t that what the dating apps and websites are promising you?
Yes. But it’s not that simple.
You can’t just create a profile, start messaging every person who looks attractive, and expect to find the love of your life.
It is possible to find your perfect match, but for this to happen, you need to know how to successfully date online, and you also need to have a bit of luck.
While you can’t influence how lucky you’ll be when trying to find a good match, you can increase the odds of it happening by approaching this seriously.
Here’s what you need to know about online dating to come out of it a winner:
1. Consider whether you are ready to start dating.
Are you ready to start dating? Maybe you’re looking for your first real relationship, or you recently ended a serious relationship. Whatever the case, approach online dating the same way you would approach dating in person.
Don’t do it until you’re ready to find a partner. You might be tempted to find someone to chat with just because you’re lonely, and/or moving on is difficult. While no one can stop you from doing this, it’s not a wise choice.
Wait until you are ready for a new relationship to start dating online. You should be willing to take this seriously. There actually is a chance that you’ll find the love of your life through a dating app or website. So, use this option when you’re ready for a new partner.
Despite its digital nature, online dating is no less real and serious than traditional forms of dating.
2. Take some time to choose the right app or website.
Don’t make a profile on the first dating app that you see, and don’t rush to decide on the most popular one either. This might even be the most important part of successfully dating online, so take some time to choose the right app or website.
There are a lot of options, and each attracts different people and different vibes. For instance, some dating apps are known for being more for hookups, while others are meant for people who have more long-term connections in mind.
Also, some apps connect people who live in the same region, while others connect people based on similar attributes or hobbies.
Dating apps often use the swipe strategy where you just swipe left or right based on whether you like the person’s profile or not. On the other hand, dating websites often offer different tests and options for determining the best matches based on your own answers and your similarities.
So, take some time to decide which dating app or website caters to your needs and wants.
3. Know what you want.
Obviously, to find what you want, you must first know what that is. Are you looking for something casual or a committed relationship? If you’re looking for a relationship, think about the kind of relationship that you’d like to have. What are your relationship goals? What kind of future are you hoping for?
Think about your ideal partner as well. What kind of person does your match need to be for you to have your ideal relationship with them? What are the qualities that describe your ideal partner?
It would be a good idea to write these things down since they are your guidelines in deciding when to swipe left and when to swipe right. Make a list of qualities that describe your ideal partner. Go into detail, but focus more on who they are on the inside than on the outside, even though you can describe physical qualities too.
Try to be realistic and don’t narrow it down too much. For instance, instead of “supermodel,” write “good-looking,” and instead of “wealthy” write “successful.”
4. And what you don’t want.
Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want.
What are your dealbreakers? Are there things that would immediately disqualify a person you’re dating? Write them down too. Maybe you don’t want them to have a criminal record or an active addiction.
Perhaps you’re looking for someone who doesn’t have kids and hasn’t been married before. Maybe you hate arrogant and selfish people or find it hard to be in the company of smokers. You are allowed to have whichever dealbreakers you want.
However, try to be realistic and keep an open mind. Some people that you would initially rule out because of a dealbreaker might be able to surprise you. Don’t be quick to judge someone or jump to conclusions.
It’s okay to have standards and dealbreakers, but it takes time to really get to know someone, and people can change. For instance, ruling out every smoker will probably leave you without some potentially great matches, and those people might not want to be smokers forever.
5. Be honest.
Don’t start dating online by being dishonest about your intentions with your dates. If you’re not looking for anything serious, that’s okay too, but the other person needs to be aware of it.
Don’t lead anyone on or make them think that you’re interested in the real thing when you just want to get into their pants. Dating online would be a much better experience for everyone if people would just be honest about what they’re looking for.
Being honest with your potential partners goes beyond being transparent about the kind of relationship you’re looking for. It also means being yourself instead of pretending that you’re someone else. It might be tempting to present yourself differently than you really are, but you want the person to like you for you, not for who you’re pretending to be to impress them. So, be honest with your dates, and don’t be afraid to open up.
6. Be yourself.
Don’t risk starting a relationship with a lie. The goal of online dating isn’t to get as many matches as possible, it’s to find the right matches.
For this to happen, you have to be your authentic self. You might feel the need to hide some of your imperfections because you consider them unattractive, but don’t assume what other people do or don’t find attractive.
When we fall in love with someone, we fall in love with all of their little quirks and imperfections too. So, someone is going to love the parts of you that you’re trying to hide from the world.
You’re dating to find the person who’ll like all of you, so be yourself and find the match who is right for you, the real you.
7. Keep an open mind.
You know the description of your ideal partner and your dealbreakers, and these are your guidelines. However, try to keep an open mind too. Most likely, you aren’t going to find exactly who you’re looking for, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
People can surprise you, and you can fall for someone despite them not being exactly who you’ve imagined for yourself. In fact, they could turn out to be even better than your idea of an ideal partner!
So, don’t be quick to rule out everyone who doesn’t match your description of a perfect partner. Give them a chance, and be open to considering and trying new things.
For instance, maybe you are passionate about tennis, but your date is a football player. It’s not the same sport, but it’s still a sport, so you might be able to become passionate about football too, or they could play tennis with you.
Maybe you’re passionate about working out in general, but your date isn’t. Who’s to say that they’re not going to join the gym soon? Stick to your standards but keep an open mind.
8. Choose a great picture.
Your profile picture is the most important part of successfully dating online. After all, people are going to decide whether to message you or not mostly based on your picture.
So, make sure to take the best picture ever. Don’t hide your face with sunglasses or hats, and make sure to have a genuine smile on your face. Slightly tilt your head and take the shot!
It’s a good idea to take the picture somewhere where you feel relaxed and comfortable as this will show in the picture.
The point of your profile picture should not only be that you are attractive, but that you are fun, social, and have a fulfilling life. Though don’t use group photos to show how fun and social you are as it can confuse people as to which person you are in that photo.
It might be a good idea to take the picture outside while rollerblading or engaging in some other type of outdoor activity. This will make you look like a fun and energetic person which is always a plus.
9. Keep your description short and interesting.
People aren’t interested in reading personal essays when they’re browsing through dating profiles online. So, keep your description short, but make sure to keep it interesting as well.
What is it that makes you unique, interesting, and special? Why would someone want to meet you out of all the candidates available online? Maybe you make the best coffee, or you’re great at playing acoustic guitar. Mention these things in your description and think about your ideal partner.
Who and what are you looking for? You should include this in your profile. Are you hoping to meet someone who is adventurous and spontaneous? Do you want a serious relationship or just to have some fun? These things should be clear to a person after they read your profile. However, write more about who you are than what you want.
Get as specific as possible when writing about your likes and interests instead of using generic descriptions. So, instead of “I like to have fun,” you would say “I enjoy comedy shows and improv classes.”
10. Start conversations.
Some people are shy when it comes to sending messages on dating apps or websites, but this makes it far harder for you to meet someone because you’re relying on them to message you first.
Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation when you see someone you like. It’s not like asking them out or expressing interest, you’re just starting a conversation with someone you don’t know to check if there’s chemistry. Just like dating in person.
Whenever you notice someone interesting, message them. Maybe you won’t like them as much as you liked their profile, or maybe they’ll turn out to be your ideal partner. You never know, so don’t hesitate to engage in a conversation with anyone you find intriguing.
It goes without saying that you should respond to messages that you get too!
11. Send a great first message.
Maybe you want to send messages, but you just don’t know what to write. A simple “Hi” or “Hey, what’s up?” seems too boring. And, truthfully, it is.
You need to make your message engaging. Look at the person’s profile. Is there anything there that you would like to ask them about or comment on?
For instance, you could write, “Hi Jill, so you’re a big jazz fan too? Have you been to the new jazz bar downtown?” or “Hey Bob. Lovely to meet a fellow Stephen King fan, what’s your favorite book?”
You could also comment on their photo or ask a question about it. It’s best to send a brief message and ask something about them. However, you can also comment on some shared collective experiences, such as an upcoming holiday, the recent pandemic, or something related to current events. It’s not as good as asking about them, but it sure beats “Hey, what’s up?”
Pay attention to grammar and spelling and create a tailored message for each person that you contact instead of choosing to copy and paste the same message to multiple people. It’s not as subtle as you think, and people notice how much effort you’ve put (or haven’t put) into the message. They conclude how interesting and how serious you are based on that message too.
Depending on your personal preferences, you might want to consider starting with an icebreaker joke though you should always then go on to make some comment as above—don’t only send a joke or the other person probably won’t reply.
12. Get to know the person better.
Learn more about your date before meeting them in person. Once you’ve exchanged several messages on the dating app or website, you could add each other on Facebook and continue the conversation there. This is a great—although a little stalkerish—way to learn more about the person.
Don’t rely on their social media for all the information though. Ask them questions about their likes, dislikes, interests, goals, and plans for the future.
The purpose of your conversations should be to figure out whether you could be a good match, so don’t just talk about the weather. Have interesting conversations and try to discover more things that you have in common.
Be creative when asking questions instead of sticking to the generic ones. Give them compliments when you notice something positive about them, make them laugh, and bond with them over shared interests.
13. Respond in a timely matter.
Imagine you are at a bar and you notice someone you like. When you are looking to date in real life, you probably aren’t going to approach the person who’s already been approached by several other people and is talking to them right now. No matter how attracted you are to them, you are not going to compete with others for their attention.
That’s where there is a difference between dating in person and dating online. It’s easy to forget about other people when you can’t actually see them.
Keep in mind that the person you’re chatting with on a dating site is most likely talking to other people as well. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket when you create a dating profile. Most people contact several potential matches and chat with numerous people simultaneously.
It’s important to keep this in mind and respond to messages in a timely matter. While in real life you could play the game of who texts first and who takes how long to respond, with online dating, you have other people you’re competing with, so timing is important.
14. Don’t sweat it if you don’t get a response.
You won’t always get a response when you send a message. However, this is not necessarily because the person’s not into you. Maybe they’ve stopped using the app or only see messages when they open the app, and they don’t open it often.
However, it’s also true that some people simply won’t be interested in you. Either way, you need to prepare for rejections just like you’re prepared for matches. Don’t send more than two messages without getting a response.
Some people get into a relationship and stop using the dating app without deleting their profile. Not everyone is going to like you back for some reason or another. In any case, it’s safe to assume that the person is not available if they haven’t responded to your message. Respect their decision and keep sending messages to other people because there will be plenty of responses too.
15. Don’t see people as their profiles.
Yes, it’s faster to instantly form an opinion of the person based on their profile, which is why we often do this. But that’s not who they really are. Don’t make quick judgments and assume you have someone figured out based on their profile.
Profiles that seem uninteresting, arrogant, cheesy, or anything else might simply be the result of someone having no previous experience with online dating. In the same way, an amazing profile might actually be suspiciously perfect.
So, don’t be quick to judge people based on their profiles. What should you base your opinions on when that’s all you know about them? You can pick who you talk to based on their profile, just keep in mind that there’s probably a lot more to them than what’s written there.
Take your time before concluding that someone is right or wrong for you.
You can approach this the same way you approach dating in real life. Would you approach the person based on what you see? Would you wait to have a few conversations with them before forming an opinion about them?
It’s the same thing online, you just get to know a bit more about a person from their profile than if you would simply spot them in a crowded bar. Don’t assume you know everything though.
16. The more detailed profile the better.
You shouldn’t see people as their profiles. However, it’s also safe to assume that a person who’s taking this seriously will create a detailed profile.
A profile with little to no information is likely not being taken seriously by the person who created it. So, they probably aren’t expecting to find the love of their life. If you are, you should look for someone whose profile indicates that.
Look for people who have profiles that are similar to yours. Maybe you have a common interest or a goal that you could talk about. A profile that is nothing more than a picture of an incredibly beautiful person might even be fake.
17. Do your research.
Again, it might be a little stalkerish, but it can help you stay safe and learn more about your date. So, do your research before deciding whether you want to meet them or not. Google image search their picture to make sure that they are the person they’re presenting themselves to be. Googling their name might reveal more info too.
Once more, it’s important not to judge a person based on what you find out about them online. However, fact-checking their stories and making sure that they aren’t fake profiles is that easy. Most people exist online, so, while there are some that you might not find anything about, this is pretty uncommon, so be cautious.
18. Consider asking for a video call.
Want to really make sure that you’re talking to the person from the picture that you’re seeing? Ask for a video call before you agree to meet in person! This is a great way to avoid the awkwardness of a person not looking anything like their profile picture. Plus, it’s a great way to eliminate any fake profiles.
Don’t make a big deal out of it. A quick video call where you exchange a few words is all that it takes for you to make sure that it’s the person from the picture. You can simply ask for a video call without making it sound weird. Unless the person isn’t who they’re saying they are, they should be perfectly fine with having a video call at some point.
19. Meet in person soon.
If you wait for weeks before meeting in person, you are likely to build up idealized, unrealistic expectations during texting. People are actually not that great at predicting who they’ll like in person. So, meet in person as soon as you are sure that it’s safe to do so. Find out who they are by actually talking to them, not reading their texts.
If a person refuses to meet you after a few weeks, it’s better to move on. They are either not that into you or aren’t who they say they are. Don’t spend more than three weeks texting someone without meeting them in person.
20. Go to a coffee shop or a bar.
Don’t commit to dinner and a movie when you’re seeing the person for the first time. No matter how much you learn about the person online, you can’t tell whether it will work out in person. You don’t want to be stuck at a restaurant for the whole night out of pure politeness. So, make your first date quick and go for a drink.
Go to a coffee shop or a bar. This is a public place, so you’ll be safe, and it also gives you an opportunity to cut the date short if you want to. In truth, the date probably won’t be that bad, but you don’t have to stay on a date with a person when you realize that you don’t like them. It’s ok to finish your drink and say it was nice to meet them but you don’t think you’re a good match.
However, don’t make quick judgments. Give your date the benefit of the doubt before concluding that you’re on the worst date in history.
For instance, maybe they’re just in a bad mood today, so that’s why they complained the whole time. It really takes longer than one date to get to know someone. On the other hand, if you’re confident that you don’t want to get to know them any better, feel free to part company. Just remain polite and courteous as you do so.
21. Have a great first date.
Hopefully, you won’t need any excuses to leave because you’ll have a great first date. Here’s how…
Sit opposite each other so that you can easily see each other’s faces, and feel free to talk about online dating experiences—it’s quite natural to do this since you met this way. However, don’t reveal how many people you’ve met through a dating app, especially if the person is new to online dating.
Actively listen while the person is talking and see if you can follow up with something similar from your life. For instance, if a person says that they’re into adrenaline sports, you could say that you tried bungee jumping when you were a teenager.
Keep in mind that you are not trying to make this person like you, you are trying to figure out whether you like each other. Be conversational, funny, friendly, and flirty, and go in for the kiss if everything’s going great. Pay for the drinks without offering, and if they object, let them know that they can pay next time. Don’t schedule the second date right away but point it out if you’d like to see them again.
22. Follow up after the date.
After you’ve had a date, whether a great one or a bad one, you should follow up with a message.
If the date was bad and you don’t want to see them again, let them know gently. You could write something like, “Hi Mark, thanks for the drink the other day! I had a nice time, but I don’t think we could connect on a romantic level. Wishing you the best of luck!”
If you instead had a great date, send a message to suggest something for the second date. You could say, “Hi Sarah, I had a great time last night. I was thinking of going to the bar we talked about sometime next week, wanna come?”
If the person is not interested in seeing you again, accept rejection, don’t let it get to you, and move on. Some people might not even respond to your message, and it’s safe to assume that they’re not interested if you don’t hear from them. So, don’t keep texting them if they don’t text back.
23. Limit the number of people you talk to and the time you spend on dating apps.
The goal of dating apps and matchmaking sites is to keep you there for as long as possible in order to make money off you, so, obviously, they’re addictive. In addition, since they’re easy to use and there’s an endless number of single people, you could get hooked on messaging and browsing through profiles.
However, greater choice is not always a good thing.
You could get overwhelmed by that many options, and the longer you spend time on dating websites, the more people you are going to reject. After rejecting so many people, you could get very pessimistic about the possibility of finding the love of your life while dating online.
Limit the time you spend dating online to avoid getting overwhelmed and pessimistic. When you start rejecting most people, it’s time to take a break.
It’s also a good idea to limit the number of people that you’ll be talking to simultaneously. It can be tempting to talk to hundreds of people, but this will just lead to burnout. You’ll have a ton of meaningless conversations instead of connecting with a few people on a deeper level.
24. Don’t ignore the red flags.
Don’t believe that the person could be right for you to the point that you ignore the red flags. If someone constantly talks about their ex, badmouths everyone, thinks aggressive behavior is amusing, or you catch them lying while you haven’t even yet had a decent conversation, run like hell.
The red flags are the same in dating, whether you’re dating online or in person. So keep an eye on any signs that the person you’re talking to might be wrong for you.
Don’t forget, the purpose of going on a date with someone is so you can see whether they are right for you, not to convince them to like you. If everything about them screams trouble, or you’re noticing that you don’t have the same relationship goals, swipe left.
25. Don’t assume you know them.
After you have spent some time chatting online, you might get the impression that you already know them. Don’t assume you know them when you haven’t even met them in person. This is a very important rule for online dating. Talking to someone online is not the same as talking to them in person.
Even when you meet them in person, it will take a few dates before you can say you know what kind of person they are. So, don’t assume too much before you actually get to know them well.
When you don’t like someone, it’s okay not to put time and effort into getting to know them for who they are. You’ve seen a glimpse of it, and it didn’t attract you, so that’s okay. However, don’t fall in love with someone over messages or assume they’re The One after the first date.
Give it some time before you conclude that you’ve met your ideal partner. Keep in mind that some people aren’t the way they seem at first; no one can keep a mask on for long though. So, take things slow and give it time.
26. Stay safe.
Horror stories about online dating spread like wildfire, but, in reality, they happen so rarely that online dating can even be safer than dating in person. After all, you at least get some information about the person before spending time with them. Whereas, approaching a stranger in a bar means you know nothing other than what they tell you.
So, online dating is pretty safe, and most of the time, you just need to use common sense. For instance, always meet in a public place and tell someone where you’ll be. Don’t ever give someone money. Why would a person on a dating site be searching for a loan instead of love in the first place?
What are the actual risks that you can encounter while dating online? Well, you will probably encounter a few profiles with only one picture of an above-average-looking person with little to no information about them. This is usually a fake profile, and they’ll just waste your time.
A woman might message you first—which doesn’t happen that often. If she is mentioning sex, it’s probably a dude or some other person trolling you. It’s likely not a hot woman who just wants to sleep with you.
As for guys, there are a lot of men who will just offer sex, and these are real, but usually not dangerous. Most often, they just lack social skills or don’t take dating online seriously, and you should just ignore their messages.
27. Learn from every experience.
While dating is not just a numbers game, you do learn a lot with practice. So, see every experience as a learning opportunity. You can learn from bad dates too, and you can discover more ways to spot dealbreakers.
Always keep in mind that you’ll get better at dating with practice, even if you go on bad dates. Too many bad dates will make you pessimistic though, so if you’ve had several bad ones in a row, take a short break.
28. Don’t trust online chemistry too much.
You could have incredible online chemistry with someone and realize that you have no chemistry whatsoever when you meet in person. This is because these two things are entirely different. You could spend weeks texting with someone and being sure that they’re The One but feel no spark once you see them in real life.
Again, this is why it’s so important to meet as soon as possible. Don’t trust online chemistry too much. Wait to go on a real date with a person to determine whether there could be something there.
29. Have high standards but not impossible ones.
You should stick to your standards, but don’t have impossible ones. If you’re not getting many matches, reconsider your criteria. Maybe you could widen the age range or include smokers even though you initially filtered smokers out.
When dating online, most people will search for those more attractive than them. So, you’re likely to have higher standards than when dating in person. Consider whether you are ruling out some potentially good matches because of this.
30. Take things slow and don’t expect fast results.
In the end, the most important part of dating online is to take things slow. Don’t expect to find your ideal partner right away. If you create a dating profile with the hope of instantly getting the perfect match, you are going to be disappointed.
Yes, you can find your ideal partner when dating online, but don’t assume that you have until you’ve met them in person and gotten to know them well enough to tell.
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