Online dating is a great way to expand your social circle. Even if you don’t find the “love of your life” (although many people do!) you can make new friends, or at least have something fun to do on Friday night.
It’s also a fantastic way of improving your confidence—especially if you’re shy or a little self-conscious. As you meet more people, you’ll become more used to “breaking the ice” and expressing your personality.
Millions of people have tried online dating and have enjoyed it. Of course, they struggled at first, and were a bit daunted and sometimes confused about what to do. Here, they shared the tips that helped them.
1. Post a good picture.
Research (and common sense!) proves that you’ll get a better response if you post a good photo of yourself. A blank profile photo just makes people wonder why you’re so scared to show yourself—surely, you can’t be that ugly! They may think you’re not serious about dating, and will brush you off as a “lurker.”
However, don’t be total jerk and post a fake picture. That’s just plain and outright lying, and whatever trust or rapport you build in your online conversations and emails will disappear the moment you actually meet. Nobody likes being deceived!
Just pick the most flattering photo you have, taken within the year. If you want to put your best foot forward, arrange for a professional portrait—a little makeup and gorgeous lighting can bring out your best assets!
2. Ask a lot of questions.
Most online dating sites have chatrooms where you can safely get to know your prospects before actually setting up a face-to-face date and weed out the “undesirables.” Just make sure you don’t end up annoying them in the process! Don’t keep talking about yourself.
People like to feel that you’re interested in them, and will naturally be attracted to you if you seem warm, friendly and eager to get to know who they are. Nobody wants to date an egomaniac.
Asking questions also helps you, in the long run. You do want to find out more about your date—how else will you know if he or she is worth asking out?
3. Know your “target.”
So you see someone’s profile pic and think, “Wow! I likeeeeeee!” Before you try to contact him or her, visit the profile page. This gives you an idea of whether or not you really have a lot in common, and (more importantly) lets you write a truly engaging introduction.
You also know what kind of questions to ask, or what type of things you should bring up in the conversation. “Hey, you mentioned in your bio that you love animals. What kind of pets do you have?” The person will be flattered that you did your background research—and you present yourself as someone who is sincere about making a connection.
4. Don’t do a disappearing act.
Many online daters complain about how a person they’ve been emailing or chatting with for several weeks suddenly cuts off communication. Maybe he or she found a better prospect, or decided to take a break from the dating game. Whatever the reason, though, that behavior is just plain rude.
Even if you decide that a particular relationship isn’t “right” for you, it’s still important to be polite. At least send an email saying goodbye, or even just clear expectations: “You’re a nice person, but we’re better off as friends.” At least you don’t leave anyone hanging.
After all, how would you feel if you were in his or her shoes?
5. Show some refinement!
You’re not going to get anywhere by acting crude and overly aggressive. Nobody’s attracted to foul language, sexist remarks, or the comments you’d typically hear in a porn movie. Remember your manners! You’d never talk to your friend that way— why would you think that your online friends would suddenly find that appealing?
And don’t say, “I’m just trying to make a joke!” One of the most important things you have to realize is that you’re dealing with people who don’t know you very well, and can’t tell when you’re kidding or not. Plus, they can’t see your body language. It’s easy for miscommunication to happen, so avoid any comments that can be construed a different way.
6. Stop whining.
So you’re angry at your ex-boyfriend or feeling lonely and depressed because of the bad luck you’ve had this year. Please, leave your angst at the door. While a lot of people go to online dating sites because they’re lonely and need someone to talk to, the fact is that you’ll repel your prospective dates with constant negativity.
That’s why it’s important to keep your profile or bio upbeat and happy. Don’t say, “I’m lonely and need someone to fill the emptiness in my life.” That just screams, “Needy!” And if you do get replies, chances are they’ll be from people who are just as depressed as you are. Not the best start to a relationship!
7. Avoid clichés.
Don’t say “Looking for Mr. Right” in your profile. That’s vague, overused and unimaginative. Try to give a hint of your personality, your interests, and what you’re looking for in a relationship.
8. Always, always tell the truth.
Think of it this way: if you do meet the right person, don’t you want to start the relationship on the right foot? Why ruin it by weaving a web of lies that will inevitably fall apart—and destroy your relationship with it?
Besides, you don’t need to lie. Online dating lets you meet hundreds of people. Surely there is someone there who shares your interests, appreciates your personality, and gets your quirks.
If you need to lie to keep someone’s attention, then you’re obviously wasting time on the wrong prospect. You’re just not compatible—move on and look for someone else.
9. Don’t be naïve.
You may not lie, but other people can. So do keep that in mind. Watch for inconsistencies in your conversations. And when you do agree to meet up, for your own safety, arrange for your first date to be in a public place. Bring your own transportation, and inform a friend or relative where you and who you’re meeting.
10. Don’t give up.
Online dating is still dating—you can get your heart broken, or go through weeks wondering why you seem to attracting more than your share of bores and jerks. But remember the adage, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” Online dating is a very big sea. You just have to keep fishing, throwing back the “garbage” and weathering the occasional storms. Eventually you’ll find the right person. But until then, enjoy the ride.