Here in the 21st century, it’s clear to see that online socializing of all types is here to stay. That definitely includes online dating. Thanks to the growing popularity of web-based dating sites and social networks, people now have a nearly infinite pool of potential partners to choose from. You’re no longer limited only to people that live in your immediate vicinity. You don’t have to rely on bars, clubs, or blind dates as the only ways to meet new and available people anymore. These days, you have access to a wealth of fun, new ways to meet fascinating people that are as like you (or different from you) as you choose.
However, deciding that online dating might be right for you and actually figuring out where to start and how to get the most out of the experience is quite another. Here we’ll take a closer look at the ins and outs of the entire experience. We’ll discuss what to look for in an online dating site and how to put together a profile that will help you put your best face forward. We’ll touch on some basic safety tips to keep in mind, too. You’ll be feeling like a regular online dating champ in no time flat.
How Varied Are Your Options?
When we say that today’s online dating scene literally includes something for everybody, we’re not kidding. Think of just about any type of person someone might conceivably want to meet and you can bet there’s a dedicated dating website for it. There are dating sites just for people looking to marry millionaires or for people that specifically want to date a man in uniform. There are sites designed just for Christian people, African American people, single parents, and people interested in matches based on astrology.
In fact, there are over 9 million different online dating services currently making it easy to meet exactly the kind of people you’re most interested in. Even in regards to standard services like Match.com, Zoosk.com, or eHarmony.com you’re going to instantly gain access to millions of potential mates just by signing up. However, we understand that it can be tough to make a decision when there are this many options out there. Here are some great questions to ask in order to determine whether a given service is right for you.
What Kind of Relationship Are You Looking For?
Ask yourself what you hope to get out of any new connections you make. Are you just looking for something casual right now – someone to catch a movie with on the weekends or get to know on a no-strings-attached basis? Maybe you’re at a point in your life when you really feel ready to get serious about marriage and children. Choose a site that offers services in line with your goals.
You would also do well to make a list of qualities you’re looking for in a sex partner, mate, dating prospect, or possible spouse. Do you need the person to be a specific height or to have finished a certain level of education? Would you consider a single parent or someone from another state? The more you understand about what you’re really looking for in a dating experience right now, the easier it will be to choose a dating platform.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
While it’s true that there are many very good free dating sites out there, it’s important to at least consider the benefits that might come with choosing a membership-based service. The more sophisticated the system when it comes to matching people to their ideal mates, the more accurate a lot of those matches may ultimately be. Most of the top-rated dating services active today charge at least a modest membership fee in order to gain access. Either way, it’s important to have a budget in mind when perusing possible dating platforms.
Which Sites Have the Best Reputation?
As is the case with many things in life, it’s often a good idea to stick to platforms and websites with a high track record for success when it comes to online dating. Take a minute to ask friends that are experienced in online dating what sites they have used and what their opinion was of each experience. Where did they have the most success meeting people that turned out to be promising matches? Do they have any suggestions as to which of your available options might be best based on what they know about your preferences?
What Else Should I Consider When Choosing a Site?
Once you’ve narrowed things down to a couple of promising options, you’ll want to look into a few more things about how the site operates. The more you know about how a given site operates and sets you up with potential matches beforehand, the more rewarding your experience will ultimately be. Make sure you look into each of the following criteria before signing up for an account.
Always make sure you know how a site handles sensitive information about its members before deciding to open up an account. Avoid options that sell contact information or other details about users to third parties. You’re looking for a possible love connection after all, not an inbox full of spam!
You’ll also want to have a full understanding beforehand of how privacy is handled within the community itself. Does the site you’re considering feature filters and detailed privacy settings that make it easy to communicate the way you want to? How much of your activity on the site are you expected to share by default with other users? Are you able to block communications from people that make you uncomfortable? Take the time to explore the site’s policies in regards to all of these concerns and more.
Here in the internet age, it goes without saying that one of the hallmarks of a truly accessible web community is mobile friendliness. Look for sites that make it easy for you to access your messages or interact with other members from your tablet or mobile phone via a mobile site or a streamlined app. If you’re like most people these days, you probably do most of your web surfing and emailing while you’re on the go and you’ll get more out of a site that makes that easy to do.
Efficient Matching Algorithm
The heartbeat of any good online dating site is a reliable algorithm for making matches in the first place. Take some time to get to know the ways in which each dating site evaluates its members and matches them with other members.
Some approach the process by having people immediately fill out detailed questionnaires about themselves, their history, their interests, and the qualities they are ultimately looking for in a partner. Others take things a step further and actually analyze a member’s behavior on the site to help with the process. Future matches are made after taking into consideration which profile types you actually spend the most time looking at, which types of people you message the most often, and so on.
A good rule of thumb to follow is “the more thorough the algorithm, the better”. Occasionally there are discrepancies between what people think they want and what they actually want. Consider opening yourself up to the possibility of doing things differently or exploring a matchmaking methods that you might not have considered before.
You may also want to reevaluate the way you use social networking sites that aren’t necessarily geared toward dating. Many people that originally met their mates online actually did so in a place where they least expected to find love – on Facebook or via an online blog that they keep.
How to Create the Perfect Profile
Once you narrow down your many options and find an online dating service you really like, it’s time to create your profile. As you may already be aware, there’s really a fine art to creating a dating profile that generates interest in a way that’s also honest and forthright. After all, that profile is going to be responsible for telling passerby everything you want them to know about you, as well as telling them what they need to know in order to see if you’re a match. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make sure you’re putting your best possible face forward.
Be Honest and Straightforward
While it’s only natural to want to be seen as a good catch when filling out your dating profile, it’s also important to also remember that honesty is the best policy. That said, avoid false advertising of any kind. Don’t say that you’re tall if you’re actually a little on the shorter side. Don’t embellish too much when describing what you do for a living. Don’t claim to love to be active and outdoorsy when you’re actually more of a couch surfer either.
If you’re not honest enough, you could be setting yourself and somebody else up for a very awkward conversation at some point down the line. You could also be depriving yourself of the opportunity to connect with people that will absolutely love you for exactly the person that you are. People do tend to get angry if they get their hopes up about someone in particular and then they turn out to be different than they expected.
Let Your Personality Shine
Don’t miss a chance to let your one-of-a-kind personality shine through in your words. Just be yourself. If you tend to use humor to express yourself, don’t be afraid to let that shine through in how you tell others who you are. Tell your potential partner everything you’d like them to know about you. Talk about your interests, your values, and your goals. Be thorough, but try to avoid being overly long-winded. You can always elaborate on the little details over instant message or email.
Not only does being unique help your potential partner know what you’re all about, but it helps your profile stand out from the rest of the crowd. Just make sure you’re positive and genuine. Avoid anything gimmicky or that really isn’t “you”. In the end, it pays to give people a clear picture of what it would be like to date you or get to know you better.
Choose Photos Carefully
At the end of the day, you can’t avoid the fact that your choice in profile photos is among the most important choices you’ll make while setting up your dating profile. It’s not just because looks matter either, although they do. People naturally connect with faces and potential mates are going to be looking to connect with yours, so choose carefully.
Make sure your photo is recent. Even if you like to tell yourself you haven’t aged a day since your favorite 10-year-old photo was taken, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Don’t worry about it if you don’t have as much hair as you used to or have put on a few pounds. It happens to everyone. Generally speaking, photos shouldn’t be any older than six months to a year old.
Multiple photos are also often a great idea, as they can be a good way to tell people more about you. Avoid overly flirty or sexy shots (unless you’re specifically interested in adult dating). Party photos are also a no-no. People think that such choices will convince others that they’re desirable and fun when in reality they can scare good dating prospects away. Start with one nice, clear, recent photo of you and a few snapshots that show you engaging in some of your favorite hobbies.
Ask for Feedback
Once you’ve got your profile all set up, it might be a good idea to ask a friend or family member for some feedback. Ask them honestly what they think of how you portrayed yourself. If you have friends of your preferred gender that you can ask for an evaluation, so much the better! They might be able to clue you in on what would and would not attract them to your profile if they happened to be a member of the same website.
You may also want to take a look at how other people set up their profiles, especially those that seem to be having good luck attracting plenty of interests. You’re sure to see some approaches that give you some ideas on how to make a better impression yourself. You’re also more likely to think of things that you left out, but should have included.
Take the Initiative
Don’t simply wait for other people to approach you and start conversations. Make it a point to interact with and approach other people that you find interesting as well. Be polite and personable, just as you would be if you were approaching someone new in an offline setting. Avoid being overly flirtatious or forward at first. Just be friendly. Use common interests and experiences as talking points until the ice is broken.
You’ll also want to make sure you keep your profile up to date into the future. Give your basic info a quick once-over once every month or to and correct anything that is no longer in line with your lifestyle or what you’re looking for in a potential match. Add new photos frequently and check your messages often. All in all, profiles that seem active and well curated are also the ones that seem the most appealing.
Now is also an excellent time to reevaluate how you present yourself online in general. We’re living in a day and age when Google is king. That said, people whose interest you spark on an online dating site will Google you in order to get a better feel for who you are. Make sure that what they find will make the kind of impression you want them to have.
Go through your Facebook and Twitter feeds and lock public posts that you don’t necessarily want people to see. Delete old profiles that you don’t use anymore. Since people like potential employers also use stealth Googling as a way to size people up, this is something that you should be thinking about anyway.
How to Enjoy Online Dating Safely
Of course, as is the case with any type of online interaction, it’s important to keep safety in mind while you’re testing the waters of the online dating scene. Make sure you keep the following principles in mind throughout the process.
Guard Personal Information
While it’s definitely important to be honest and thorough when setting up your dating profile, it’s also important to use common sense when it comes to personal information. Don’t list your telephone number or your exact physical address. Stick to simply listing the city where you live as far as location goes.
When talking about how you earn your living, stick to describing your job duties or profession. Don’t give specific details about the exact place that you work or even the company you work for. Don’t list your last name either. For an online dating profile, your first name is plenty. Tell people who you are by describing your interests and hobbies instead.
Acknowledge Your Boundaries
If at any time, you receive a message or comment from someone that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to simply ignore it. You’re under no obligation whatsoever to answer every message or engage with every person that decides they would like some of your time and attention. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Delete messages that give you a bad vibe. If anyone in particular decides to be abusive or overly persistent, consider blocking them altogether or even reporting them to the site admin if their behavior violates the code of conduct. It’s never OK for anyone to make you feel as if you owe them communication just because they want it.
Sooner or later, you will meet someone you like and strike up a friendship. When you do get around to meeting in person for the first time, always make sure that you do so safely and wisely. Choose a public place full of people for your first meeting such as a restaurant, a movie theater, or an amusement park. Also, make family members and friends aware of your plans – where you’ll be, what times you’ll be there, and when you plan to be home.
Arrange to meet the person at the location you choose instead of giving them your address and having them pick you up. Not only is that the safer way to do things, but if for some reason you don’t hit it off the way you’d hope, you’re able to make your excuses and leave on your own without things getting awkward.
Trust Your Instincts
Online dating isn’t any different from offline dating at the end of the day. You should always trust your intuition when it comes to other people. If at any time someone gives you a bad feeling or makes you feel uneasy, you’re absolutely free to cut off communications. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or need to have “a good reason”. The fact that it’s what you’re comfortable with is reason enough.
If you’re still communicating online and this happens, stop emailing them or chatting with them. Block them if necessary. If you’re actually physically in their presence or out on a date, feel free to end things abruptly and simply leave. It’s always better to nip things in the bud when you first begin to get a bad feeling about someone than it is to find out later that your instincts were right all along.
It goes without saying that online dating is one of the most popular ways to meet potential mates, dates, or potential spouses out there. However, there’s definitely a method to doing it well. Always be thorough and honest in your interactions with others and demand that they pay you the same courtesy. Above all, stay safe and have fun!