Online dating. Lots of people try it on their quest to find that special someone. You can spend hours looking at profiles and you can do it from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas. On the flipside, EVERYONE is on there – your son’s teacher, colleagues, even your clients and while perusing profiles can be fun at first, at some point your time is more valuable than that. And with 80% of people lying on their online profiles, we’ve all heard horror stories of those people who don’t look like their pictures. But all is not lost. If you’re not ready to work with a Matchmaker, there are still a few things you can do right now to date more efficiently and safely online.
First things first, revamp that profile. People with more pictures get more messages so start with taking plenty of photos. People like variety, so go for classy full-length body shots, headshots, and pictures that show you in your element. If you’re the outdoorsy type and are looking for someone with similar interests, post some fun pictures of you hiking with your dog. Like attending black tie events? Great! Use your photos to show the many aspects of your life and personality, but make sure they’re all about you. If you’re not in the photo, don’t post it and beware of posting too many group shots. Upon first glance, it should be clear who this profile is about. Also, keep your dating goals in mind. Without even reading your description, your profile sends a message about what type of relationship you are looking for. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, ladies, skip the “duck face” and ridiculously low cut shirts and gentlemen, no matter how good your body looks, refrain from posting shirtless pics. Everything you post should be fitting with your relationship goals. If you’re looking for a solid relationship, you’ll want to leave a little something to the imagination.
Next, put some thought into your description. It can be awkward to talk about yourself at first, but the more comfortable you get with it, the better you’ll do. To get you started, ask your friends to describe you. What do they like about you and what have they observed about you in relationships? It’s easy to think about what we want in a partner, but consider what that ideal partner might want in you. What do you bring to the table in a relationship? Focus on positives and beware of oversharing. It’s great to share that you’re adventurous, have a great sense of humor, and love to cook. It’s not so great to share that you’re adventurous in the sack, loved going to standup with your ex, and once broke up with someone while making your famous risotto. Also, keep in mind we’re all drawn to positive people so talk about what you enjoy, want, and do as opposed to stating you aren’t into sports, hate people who play games, and are not into skiing. Tell your future mate what they ARE getting with you. Ultimately, the goal of your profile should be to pique the interest of the right person, without giving away too much (this IS the internet, after all. You never know who is reading this). Avoid discussing past relationships, politics, or religion unless you are on a political or religious-based dating site.
Once you have your new profile, you’re ready to start messaging. One mistake a lot of people make is over-using the search option. I get it, it’s handy, and you can narrow down a HUGE pool to what you believe are people that only fit your most perfect version of your partner. Into brunettes? CEOs? People without kids? Click. Click. Click. It sounds great in theory, but in reality you could be eliminating your perfect match. Focus on narrowing the pool with your true deal-breakers. Maybe you have a “type” but what are the true non-negotiables long-term? It’s easy to get caught up with over-narrowing. There have actually been studies done that show online dating creates this phenomenon where we tend to become pickier and pickier and ultimately more alone because of all the options it affords us (read more about that here: http://blog.luvwise.com/2012/04/24/chocolate-and-online-dating-do-we-get-overwhelmed-with-choice/). At the end of the day, try not to get overwhelmed and keep sight of what your true goal is. Find people who intrigue you and reference something specific about their profile in your message. It’s amazing how few people actually read online profiles so showing that you took the time to read what they had to say tells them you’re genuinely interested in who they are.
Once you’ve found someone you’d like to meet, date smart. First and foremost, I strongly recommend Googling your date and running a background check if possible. I know this takes some of the mystery and romance out of dating, but let me be clear: your personal safety comes first. Remember, 80% of people lie on their online profiles so this is not the time to get caught up in fairytales. Use your head. Meet in a public place and tell a friend what you know about them and where you’ll be. Ask them to check in with you to make sure everything is going well and keep the first date brief. The main goal of a first date is to determine if you want to see this person again. That’s it!
Dating can be a lot of fun if you do it the right way. Just do your best to be smart about it, keep a clear head, and keep your goal in mind.