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Tips for Online Dating You Need to Learn

Let’s get one thing straight — meeting online or via a dating app is the new normal. Yes, for a long while there were stigmas attached to the idea, but now it’s more accepted and expected than ever before.


In fact, a recent study found that 22% — that's over 1 in 5 people — in relationships met their partner online. Online dating is most common in people in their 50s and 60s and those in their late teens and twenties. This makes sense, as mature folks often do not have the same sort of social networks that they did when they were younger. Online dating is the most efficient way to meet people when you've tapped out your local network. And, as for Millennials, it's only natural that they'd flock to this technology; the digital world has been all around them their entire lives. While there is still a stigma around online dating — a little less than a quarter of respondents said that those who date online are desperate — it does not line up with our actual behavior. More and more, we are going online to find people we gel with and want to share either a little bit of fun, or our futures.

This could be your umpteenth go-round on these sites or apps, or your first time trying them out. Regardless of where you might be mentally with online dating, the following are pieces of advice you should take into consideration to ensure you’re in the right frame of mind and ready to go.

Know what you’re looking for
and state it upfront

Don’t be shy about why you’re on these sites or apps. 33% of singles met their most recent first date through online dating, so clearly there’s a reason you’re here. Be straightforward about the “why.” What are you wanting out of this? Is it something casual with no strings attached? Just someone to do stuff with? A long-term relationship? A second, third, or sixth chance at true love? Decide what it is that would classify your experience as a success, then make your intentions known wherever and whenever you can. So many blunders are made in relationships due to poor communication, so letting potential partners know upfront what you’re hoping to find will only help.

Some people are afraid to be too upfront about their intentions. After all, won't you scare off people who are looking for something else? What if the person who navigates away from your "casual dating only" profile because they were looking for a long term relationship was actually the one for you? We won't lie — that is a risk. However, it is one that you will need to take to ensure that you, and the people you date, do not go in with false expectations and wind up getting hurt or upset. Trust yourself and your intentions. There are many people in the world you can find compatible; you will not lose your chance at "the one" because you stated your intentions.

A blank profile is a
boring profile

Whether you’re trying out a more involved dating site with a long profile or an easy dating app that only gives you a certain amount of characters to work with, don’t leave these spaces blank! Even though swiping apps in their very nature are supposed to draw you in immediately with just a picture of someone, having even just a one-sentence profile could put you ahead of others. Yes, there’s a bit of pressure when it comes to writing about yourself, but leaving your profile empty is not the answer!

People are allured by your picture, but want a little something extra once they’ve decided you’re cute to look at. Leaving parts (or, worse yet, all) of your profile blank might give someone the wrong impression, i.e. you aren’t taking it seriously, you don’t have much to say in general, or you’re hiding something. Say something, even if it’s one line. But be sure to double-check your work! According to the Singles in America survey, both men and women are equally as turned off by misspellings and incorrect grammar.

Not sure what to say? Just start writing. Go freeform and include everything you feel someone who is thinking of dating you might want to know. You don't have to worry about it sounds crazy — this is just your first draft. Not sure if you should say something? When it doubt, throw it in!

Once you have finished your long, insane profile bio, start cutting. Chances are good that your first paragraph can go entirely — see how things read if you start with the second one. Often, people do best this way because the first paragraph is just clearing their throats. Delete anything repetitive. Delete anything that requires too much explanation. When you are done, you will probably have something short, descriptive and to the point.

Say “Hi” first

Unless you’re on Bumble (a female-driven app that requires the girl to initiate the conversation before the guy can say anything), the majority of dating sites and apps seem to enlist an unspoken stand-off when it comes to who should make the first move. Two people will match and weeks will go by without either of them starting a conversation. Don’t do this. If a certain someone you’ve had your eye on is taking a little longer than you’d like to reach out, be bold and do it first! There are no rules about who should break the ice first; if you’re ready to start a conversation with someone, then go for it! After all, online daters who meet someone through a site or app are 78% more likely to get a second date, so you’ve gotta start somewhere.

But, no matter what you do, do not just say "hi." When you do that, you are putting all of the obligation to carry the conversation on them. Instead, craft a short note. If you see that they said something on their profile about travel, note that you like that and ask them about their favorite place they've been. Or, make a joke. Just do anything that shows that you are willing — and able — to converse with them!

Know when to stop messaging
and actually meet

You swipe. You match. You message. Weeks later, you find yourself still messaging back and forth with no mention of actually meeting in person. This vicious circle of messaging but not meeting must end! Have a predetermined amount of time you set for yourself when it comes to how long you’re willing to talk to someone via online messages before meeting in person. There is no hard and fast rule about when you should move from messaging to meeting, but we recommend no longer than two weeks to a month (at the most). Otherwise, what’s the end game? If you get too used to communicating online, you may lose the drive to set up an in person meet, and shouldn’t that be the point of meeting online?

Many online dating experts say that you should exchange phone numbers and start talking as soon as possible; sometimes within as little as three messages! While this may be a little curt and abrupt for some people, the idea that you should start talking and preparing to meet quickly is a good one.

And, what if the person who you are talking to seems to be unwilling to commit to a meet? The answer to what to do then will depend on whether you want someone who is just an online chat buddy. Do you want to keep messaging this person and never meet? Chances are, the answer is no. It's okay to do a fade if you have been talking for awhile with no progress toward an actual meeting.

Your profile picture
should be of you

You may read this and think “Duh,” but you’d be surprised at the number of people who set their main profile picture as something other than themselves. To name a few: pets, children/nieces/nephews, close-ups of body parts they are proud of, group pictures in which you cannot tell who’s who. There will be plenty of opportunities within your profile to share those other pictures; the first thing a potential match needs to see, however, is not your dog’s adorable face or a picture of you surrounded by a bunch of friends. They just need to see you. The other aspects of your life will have their time to shine later.

The pictures that you choose should also communicate something about your life. Have a friend take a picture of you out biking, if that is an interest of yours. Take a photo with (instead of "of") your dog. And, it is okay to have a group picture of you deeper down in your profile that they will see after they've seen a couple of you by yourself. These group pictures can help demonstrate that you are friendly and sociable. But, whatever you do, do not use a picture of you and an ex. Even if you cut them out. Especially if you cut them out. This looks obvious, awkward and makes you look like you may be too newly out of a relationship or even a bit crazy. Not a great first impression. So, we've established just who should be in your profile picture. And, on that note…

Stop using old pictures

This is so important and cannot be stressed enough. Please, for both yours and prospective prospects sake — NO OLD PICTURES. From two years ago? Ok. From three years ago? Pushing it. Anything farther back than that? No! Why would you want to represent anything but the absolute truth to a potential match? No one cares what you looked like on vacation in 2005 unless you somehow look the exact same today. Sure, you might’ve been at your absolute fittest a few years back, with rippling abs and a smaller waist, but if that’s not what you look like right now, why falsely represent yourself? Own who you are today, because fibbing about who you are and what you look like present-day is not fair in terms of setting yourself or a prospective love connection up for success.. Keep it fresh, keep it true, and no matter what — JUST BE YOU!

Because think about it: what is going to happen when you meet in person? Sure, you from ten years ago might have looked like a young Sean Connery, but that is not who they are going on a date with. It doesn't matter if you were skinnier then, if that one picture of you is one that you love or if you just feel like it would make a good impression. People feel misled when your photos do not look the way that you actually look in person.

That said, there is nothing wrong with picking the photos that show you in your most flattering light. Skip the bathroom selfies. Instead, have a friend take a photo outside, with a nice background in flattering light. Wear something that looks good on you. Have your hair done neatly and put on a little makeup if you wear it.

Once you have these photos taken, skip any urge to alter them. Flattering Instagram-style filters will, like out of date pictures, just give a false impression of what you really look like. Instead, pick ones that represent you honestly. Better to have someone pass you by in the profile-peeping stage than to exchange messages, build a connection and then have it all fall apart the second you both arrive at that coffee date.

Remember: there is someone for you as you are. Represent yourself as accurately as possible so that that person can find you.