It seems like everyone is online dating these days. OK, maybe not everyone, but a lot of us are, and luckily, it’s becoming more and more of the social norm. Closet online daters are slowly emerging from the shadows and into the sunlight. Since I recently started my venture on becoming an online dating consultant, I’ve started working with some online dating newbies. I’ve have had the opportunity to sit down with these people and help them create their first profile. What I have come to learn that the actual dating is the easy part; it’s creating your first profile that is daunting, awkward, and totally weird. I decided that it’s time that I create my very own Do’s and Don’t’s list of online dating, and here they are:
DO put effort into choosing your pictures.
Your profile picture is the first thing that potential dates will look at (this is not a superficial thing, this is a real thing). Your main picture should be of you by yourself (cropping is totally fine), smiling, and close-up. While having pictures of you doing a cool activity is great to have as your other pictures, you need to have a clear and good picture of your face as your profile picture.
As for your other pictures, you doing a hobby or an activity are great options. I would be wary of posting picture of you out with your friends in a group picture. I am a BIG advocate of cropping yourself out of group photos. If a guy is looking at a group of girls, I guarantee he’s thinking, “Which one is she?” or he’s checking out your friends. Also, keep pictures of you and the opposite sex out of there completely, even if it’s a sibling or a gay best friend. The person looking at your profile, aka a potential date, does not know that.
Your pictures should ideally be a variety of you doing different things in different places. Ladies, make sure not to post all of your pictures of you at da club with your face all done up. It’s ok to include a couple pictures of you out on the town looking fine, but make sure to also include some ones with you looking more natural and not at a bar.
Also, only post pictures that have been taken recently. Anything within the last year or two is fair game, unless you’ve had a major change in your physical appearance, such as a significant weight loss or gain, or you’ve completely changed your hairstyle (at least for girls). Please abstain from posting all MySpace-ish selfies. Not a good look.
DON’T put too much personal information on your profile.
So you just got out of a bad relationship, and you’re looking to date again? Great, write about it in your diary, not in your dating profile. Your profile should be a general and positive glimpse into who you are as a person, not your entire life story. Anything personal that a future partner needs to know is something you can discuss in-person on your dates.
DO put thought into your messages.
I always warn people to steer away from generic messages such as “Hey cutie. I like your profile. It seems like we have a lot in common.” Some people do not even put that much thought into it, and they will simply write “Hey sexy”. Please, stay away from these messages. You can tell right away if someone has put thought into the message they’re sending you. If in no place in the message does it refer to anything that you’ve written or posted on your profile, then they aren’t worth your time. Messages are also the easiest way to distinguish the nice and normal people from the creepers trolling the internet.
When it comes to writing messages, I recommend keeping them concise, polite, and individualize them to the profile. If someone peeks your interest, tell him or her in your message why. Maybe you both share a love for the same sports team or band, or you simply think they’re cute and seem normal; at the very least, throw somewhere in the message that you liked what he/she said about “X, Y, or Z”, or you liked the picture of him/her on their latest trip to wherever they went. A good message will include why you are interested in them, some information about yourself, and maybe where you two have some things in common. A great message will end with a question to keep the conversation going.
DON’T instant message with people through the website.
Just don’t. Message with them until you feel comfortable giving out your number, then feel free to call/ text. But please, for the love of God, stay away from instant messaging.
DO meet them sooner rather than later.
Once you start messaging with someone back and forth multiple times, and they seem like dating material, I would go ahead and give out your digits. Giving out your number implies that you are ready to take your online friendship offline and into the real world. When you start texting or talking on the phone, whichever your preference, I would recommend planning your first date or meet-up right away. You don’t want a cyber pen pal, you want someone to go out with and hopefully start dating.
If you take too long to meet in-person for the first time, then you could be building up more anxiety than necessary before your date. You also could start disclosing more personal information about yourself too soon through messaging or texting. Meeting sooner rather than later saves most of the fun small talk and getting to know you conversation for while you’re in-person which can save you from awkward silences, and it also prevents you from wasting weeks or even months talking to someone who you end up not having real-life chemistry with (or getting “Catfished”…).
DON’T put too much pressure on yourself to find a match right away.
There are a lot of people on dating sites. The probability that the first person, or even first couple of people, that you go out will be your next relationship is pretty slim. If the first couple people you meet aren’t your cup of tea, don’t get down on yourself and throw in the towel. It’s a process, and with the right attitude, it can be really fun, entertaining, and empowering. Advice I give to my newbie online daters is that when it stops being fun and gives you more stress and anxiety than excitement, take a break. You can always deactivate your profile or take a couple weeks off. Your profile and these websites are not going anywhere. It’s a process and true love doesn’t show up overnight.
DO have fun with it!
Online dating stories are the BEST. There is nothing like getting happy hour with your friends and having them share their latest absurd date through online dating. Sure, the idea is to meet a perfect match, but let’s be real, that does not always happen. If you get a good story out of it, then to me, it was worth it.
Also, always keep in mind that it’s just dating. Dating itself is awkward and cannot be taken too seriously. The most important thing is to be yourself and bring as much of your personality out as possible on your profile and on your dates, because at the end of the day, it’s your unique personality and quirks (not your perfectly angled car selfie) that will win the heart of a lucky someone else. So sit back, and enjoy the ride!
Originally published on Not Your Average Bro. Republished with permission. Need advice? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.