Online dating used to be something you whispered self-consciously to your closest friends, as if it meant you had “failed” at meeting someone the traditional way. Nowadays, more and more couples are meeting each other online and the rules are being rewritten. I’ve actually enjoyed my experiences online dating, and I’m on my fourth year anniversary with someone I met online. The secret, I’ve found, is mainly in your attitude and approach to online dating.
Here are some of my top tips, from one honest classy career girl to another!
1. Be Confident
Don’t approach online dating submissively. It’s scary to admit that you are “looking” for that special someone but don’t forget, your blind date is auditioning as much as you are. If you walk into your date with a genuine desire to learn about the other person, have a pleasant conversation, and have an inner confidence of what you bring to the potential partnership, you will feel a lot more comfortable meeting strangers.
Remember, they are probably just as nervous as you are. Don’t forget you want to assess if you like them. Don’t worry so much about them liking you and I promise you won’t feel as nervous.
2. Don’t Drag It Out
I used to let guys send me several electronic messages back and forth before meeting up in person. Then I started realizing that many men are very eloquent online, but too shy or too socially awkward to really spark any chemistry in real life. Once I got wise to this, I’d start to notice that the men who wrote super-long messages were often the ones most reluctant to meet me in person, as they knew that they weren’t bringing a lot of assets aside from their writing ability.
Then I switched to making sure the messages were shorter and after just a few messages, I would initiate asking to meet for coffee. Not surprisingly, some never wrote back. Others agreed and we found out during the meeting that we didn’t have any chemistry. Better to meet sooner rather than later so that the encounter doesn’t drag out and you waste time writing back and forth. Why would you invest time becoming emotionally attached to someone through their writing and words if you would never click once you meet in person? Establish an interest in each other and then don’t drag it out. Get that initial meeting over with as soon as you can.
And, just as importantly, never continue dating someone after the first date because you “feel bad” for them. If they persist, be honest and say, “I had a great time, but I don’t see us together romantically.” You need to cut those strings loose immediately. Nothing good can come of this situation, not to mention you’re now bringing in a drain on your time and energy.
3. Have a Sense of Humor
Attitude is everything. I kept a brief blog during two periods of online dating in two different states. It was the only way to keep everything in perspective and to keep my friends entertained. I would post the messages I would receive online (some of which led me to blocking the writers) or comment on weird dates I’d been on.
Most notable: the guy who was obsessed with turtles, and the guy who wanted to talk about his nightmares. Here’s a tip: If a guy has to write “no crazies please” in his profile, you do not want to hang out with him since clearly he is a magnet for drama.
You WILL go out on a weird date at least once, but probably more than once. That’s why I recommend coffee or something non-committal – you don’t want to be stuck at a dinner table! You need to prepare yourself for it now and instead of turning this into a pity-party (“Why do I always get the weirdos”) you need to change your attitude to, “I can’t wait to tell my friends about this!”
4. Know Yourself Before Demanding Attributes From Others
Make sure you’re not asking for more than you’re willing to give. Are you writing that you want someone in a certain socioeconomic status, but in the same paragraph you demonstrate a lack of ambition and a lack of discipline? It’s difficult to demand standards from others if you don’t have them for yourself.
Don’t gleefully write “I’m a princess and you must open the door for me and you will take me out to a five-star restaurant on our first date,” and then wonder why confident men steer away from you. The classiest thing a lady can do is simply expect high standards, not demand them. It’s amazing how much this makes a difference in people’s opinion of you.
Consider asking a trusted friend (perhaps even a male friend) to check your online profile and see if they can guess the type of person you’re trying to attract. If they can’t, you might want to consider rewriting your profile or changing your photos so that there isn’t a disconnect between what you think you’re saying and what you’re presenting to the world.
5. Never Lie On Your Profile
Do not put up photos from 50 lbs ago. Do not say you don’t have any kids if you really do. Do not gush that you love heavy metal when you really don’t. Do not say you like long walks in the park if you’re actually allergic to pollen. Just don’t.
6. Recognize Online Dating is Hard for Both Men and Women
On many sites, some women just have to put up one photo and they will receive 100 messages in one hour. This is mind-boggling. Men have to work a little harder to be on the receiving end of pursuit. Thus, men are dealing with online dating rejection every single day as the odds of their receiving a response are lower than yours.
With 100 messages a day, how are you going to possibly sort through these?
Your mind will eventually figure out shortcuts – who put effort into their profile, who has a photo you like, who used humor in their profile or who seems confident. While at first it may feel flattering to get so many messages and “likes,” don’t let it go to your head. Stay authentic and true to your values and your character, and use the same clues in assessing their profile that you would if you met them in real life.
7. Recognize Setups
If a guy reaches out to “tease” you or to challenge you (“I bet you’re the type of girl who would never…”), walk away right now. This is a huge red flag. You do not have to prove anything to him. Only a stranger with bad intentions would want to make you feel defensive or that you have to prove anything.
If someone said this to your face, how would that make you feel? Delete his message and move on. Same with inappropriate or vulgar unwanted messages – don’t even bother responding with a reaction because that is what they are looking for. Block or report the person and focus on positive interactions.
8. View Online Dating as a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Unless you get incredibly lucky, you’re not going to hit off with the first person you meet and live happily ever after. You need to be prepared for a series of interesting first dates before you find yourself moving on to that one special person.
9. Experiment With Different Dating Websites
I’m not going to name the different dating websites as every generation seems to have a new app or favorite website, but just know that each site seems to have its individual culture in terms of demographics, emphasis on serious relationship, ways of interacting, and so forth. Don’t expect to have the same results with each website, you may have to experiment a bit.
For instance, some are definitely a bit more marriage-oriented while others feature more casual encounters. Also, I online-dated in two different states (I changed jobs), and although I was using the same website I found the quality of men and the experience to be quite different on that same website. Give certain sites a second chance if you move to a new city, or ask your friends what they’ve used that they like.
10. Don’t Take Mismatches Personally
Some women may come home after every coffee date and sulk on the couch. “I’ll never meet anyone!”
When you bring this attitude to the table, you bring negativity and bad energy to the process and you are also putting on a desperate vibe, which means you will not attract the best candidates. Once you start complaining about your dates, you have begun to look at dating as a combative and negative experience which will affect your judgment.
I’m telling it to you straight: Desperation is not attractive. Be classy, acknowledge that not everyone has chemistry with each other, “bless and release,” and move on to the next date.
11. Take a Break
During my first online dating foray, I thought I had it down. Then I scheduled three coffee meetups…in the same day. This was as exhausting as it sounds. Looking back on it, this wasn’t the smartest move for an introvert anyway, but having three different blind dates on the same day made me realize I wanted to take a step back and not be out there so much.
Step back and take a break every so often – often you can temporarily disable your profile so that you don’t continue to get messages in your absence.
12. Be Safe
I never let anyone pick me up at my house for a first date and I always told a friend when I was on a first date, even if it was just coffee. The first time my now-boyfriend came over to my house, I texted my friend and asked her to check up on me in a few hours. It’s just always good to let people know your whereabouts when you’re hanging out with strangers.
13. Be Honest About Your End Goal
Be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for and make sure you’re using the appropriate website. Also, you need to make sure you know what type of man you are looking for. Then, if his internet profile gives even the hint of something else to the contrary, do not contact him. I repeat, do not contact him.
If you are looking for a significant relationship with someone who doesn’t drink, for example, do not reach out to someone who has a photo of them with a beer bottle in their hand, no matter how good looking they are. You cannot change anyone and you are only setting yourself up for disappointment later. Many times when people complain about mismatches during their online dating adventures, you can generally discern that there were hints of a potential mismatch from the very beginning.
14. Keep an Open Mind
Sometimes you have to recognize what is a “big rule” (the dealbreakers) and what is a “little rule” (you just trying to maintain control over a scary process). When I met my now-boyfriend, I actually broke most of my own smaller rules. I gave him my telephone number after one message online, met up late at night for our first date, and I kissed him on the first date. All things I’d refused to do for many other men who’d contacted me.
Four years later, he is the most inspiring, supportive, motivated, and ambitious person I know. Sometimes I even forget we met on the internet. It’s fine to have ground rules as an emotional support, but as long as you’re safe and legal, don’t forget to follow your heart as well.
I wish you the best of adventures with your new online dating skills!
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