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Online dating is hard. We’re here to help.

Visit this spot for tips, tricks, news, and other tidbits useful to those trying to navigate the murky waters of online dating. More people than ever are meeting their mates online, using everything from online personals and forums to giant dating sites to small, niche online communities. Whatever your interests, whatever you like in a partner, whatever floats your boat, it’s out there.

Eight Steps to Make Your Dating Profile “Ideal”

There are millions of dating profiles on the web, spread across countless dating sites. Many of them seem as diverse as they could be. But in reality, there’s a pattern to the madness. Certain hobbies, certain interests, certain aspects of personality and appearance… There are trends in how both men and women view these things and which ones rise to the top. Wired did the research and crunched the data on profiles from OKCupid and Match, and based on their findings, here are some tips to help you fashion a dating profile most likely to appeal to others.

Outside hobbies make you more attractive.

Outside hobbies make you more attractive.

1. Outdoor hobbies matter (some more than others). Wired found that upper middle class sports drew interest, while sports like basketball and kickball didn’t fare so well. Among men, the top three outdoor activities were surfing, yoga and skiing (in that order), while for women, the top three were yoga, surfing and running (also in that order). So the bottom line is, learn to surf.

2. Get to know the right shows and movies. For attractiveness, men scored highest when they mentioned watching “Homeland” and “Arrested Development,” while women scored best for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Pulp Fiction.” Women plummeted in the ratings for talking about liking “Twilight” or “Star Trek,” and men dropped like rocks for “Doctor Who” and “NCIS.”

3. Money talks, but age walks (at least for women). When it comes to work-related words that pop up in profiles, the most attractive word for women to read in a man’s profile is “retirement.” But if a woman puts that same word in her own profile, it drops to the second-least attractive word. Men don’t like thinking of women aging, we guess.

4. Smile with teeth – no duckface! The photos rated the hottest on dating profiles featured a majority of pics with people smiling open-lipped. On the flipside, only 6% of the hottest pics had duckface kissy lips in them.

5. Does music matter? Apparently so. For both men and women, the best band you could mention on your profile is the same: Radiohead.

Religion is fine, but focusing too much on it may cost you.

Religion is fine, but focusing too much on it may cost you.

6. Watch the mention of religion. Religion can be a deal-breaker for many people, so while you many want to put it all out there (and you should certainly be honest about your beliefs), the word “God” makes your profile less attractive. That said, of all the people willing to date outside their faith, Mormon men are the most likely to do it.

7. Log in at the right time to get the most activity. On many of the main dating sites (Grindr, Tinder, OKCupid, Match), there’s a big spike of activity on Sundays. Also, Grindr users tend to be online in the midafternoon, while Tinder and Match/OKCupid are on into the evening hours. So get online on Sunday if you want the best chance of chatting with someone in real-time.

8. Want sex? Know what most people want. Sex is important in most relationships, but how long do you wait to have it with someone new, and how often once you start? OKCupid did a poll, and they found that most users of all genders and sexual orientations wanted to wait 3-5 dates before getting busy with a new partner. After that, the most popular choice for how often to have sex was 3-4 times per week. Obviously, everyone is different, so don’t assume your new love interest has the same sexual timeline as you: Communicate!

Is It Real? Six Ways to Spot Fake Dating Profiles

If you’ve spent any time at all on dating sites, you know that not every profile is real. Some are bots set up to lure people to other sites, while others are real people pretending to be someone desirable so that they can entice you into giving them anything from your contact info to your bank account. People are taken in by these scams every day, and at best, they’re annoying. So how can you tell whether the hottie sending you a wink is really who they say they are? Here are some tips to help you spot the fakes (most of these are courtesy of DateMyPet.com).

1. If they send you a message, wink or other communication within the first few minutes of you signing up for the site, be careful. Real people aren’t usually online every moment, flirting with new sign-ups the second they appear. There’s always the chance that this potential mate happened to see your profile right after you made it, but the more realistic answer is that it’s a bot set up to reach out to new users quickly.

"To your bank account. Err, I mean health."

“To your bank account. Err, I mean health.”

2. If they ask you to come find them on another site, think twice. Many a hottie has sent a message to an online dater that says something like, “Hey, I’m usually on this other site instead, come see me there!” More often than not, these are fake profiles designed to drive web traffic to porn sites or even competing dating sites. The hottie in question probably doesn’t exist at all.

3. If they send you messages even though your profile is incomplete and/or you have no photo uploaded yet, beware. Think about it: would you start eagerly messaging someone who doesn’t even have a photo available yet? Does that sound like prime relationship material? Probably not. Again, it could be automated, or it could be someone hoping to catch you for a scam before you’ve had time to meet the “real” people on the site.

4. If they send you messages that are super-forward or poorly-written, watch out. Men are typically more forward, but rarely will a woman looking for love send a hot-and-sexy explicit message to a guy she hasn’t gotten to know yet (unless she has ulterior motives). Also, messages that are in poor English and riddled with spelling or grammar mistakes could indicate that the person behind that profile isn’t a cute divorcee from Iowa, but rather a scammer from, say, Eastern Europe or Nigeria. Even more red flags should pop up if the person sending you the badly-written messages claims to have a masters or doctorate degree (which scammers disproportionately claim, for some reason).

5. If they ask you for your personal info, use care. It’s not uncommon for people who meet on dating sites to exchange phone numbers or email addresses to communicate further, but if the other person is really pushy to get that info, or if they ask for your mailing address or even (seriously) your bank account login, they’re probably looking to mine and sell your information and/or steal as much as they can from you. There’s no reason to ask for that sort of information through a dating site.

"No, I'm totally a pilot. I just need money to fly orphans to the doctor."

“No, I’m totally a pilot. I just need money to fly orphans to the doctor.”

6. If they have a sob story that they can’t wait to share, step back. Not every scammer is obvious about asking for your bank information; they aren’t all claiming to be princes from Africa. Some of them appear to be real people (often located overseas, see the Eastern Europe thing above) who happen to be looking for love. But then, as you talk to them, it quickly comes out that they need money for some urgent personal issue (hospitalization, dying family member, emergency trip, etc). They’ll weave a sad tale and ask if you, the newfound friend with whom they have such a deep connection, could loan them the money they need. They promise to pay you back. They are so, so grateful for the help. They swear they are legit. We hope you can see where this is going. While it sounds like an obvious con, it’s amazing how many people fall for this because “She just seemed so sincere” or “We video chatted, and he was seriously upset and in need.” Do not send money, bank info or anything else to someone you met on the internet.

Bottom line: Don’t let the prospect of a hot date cloud your otherwise good judgment. Be safe!

The Eye-Catching You: Seven Tips to Make Your Online Dating Profile Stand Out

With millions of dating profiles circulating on the web (some legit, some not so much), the thought of someone spotting and liking yours may seem daunting. While there are no guarantees that there’s a perfect someone out there just waiting to throw you a “wink,” there are ways to help your dating profile stand apart from the crowd and increase your chances of getting noticed. Many of these tips come from Business Insider and others who are in the know.

Hi there.

Hi there.

1. Skip the selfies, especially if you’re a guy. The days of the “behind the wheel of my sweet car” selfie or “standing in the bathroom of my gym” selfie are past, and we’re frankly glad of it. Women are more likely to get away with selfies than guys, but even then, it’s probably not your best (or most genuine) look. What to do instead: Try to find a friend or coworker to take a decent photo of you. Be smiling in that photo. No duckfaces allowed.

2. Change your profile pic every few weeks. This keeps your profile fresh and also might catch the attention of someone who could have passed over you earlier. Again, if you need more pics of you that you can add to the rotation, ask a friend to take a few next time you’re out. Remember, be smiling, and don’t use photos that are more than a year old or that don’t show what you actually look like now.

3. Flip the bad stuff into good stuff. Say you hate being outside. Maybe you have allergies, or you just don’t like to break a sweat. Instead of writing something like “you won’t catch me dead on a hike!” avoid the negativity and say something positive about what you DO like, such as “I like to hang out with my friends and loved ones at home, watching movies and being together.” You can make the point that you like staying in without totally dissing the people who prefer to be out.

4. Talk about yourself. Seriously. So many people use their dating profiles to write about what they would do for someone else (“You’d be my princess,” “My perfect guy would never want for anything,” etc). That’s great, but it doesn’t really say who YOU are when you talk about the other, hypothetical person. Instead, use that space to describe yourself and your interests. Be careful not to OVERshare, though; you’re limited in your space, and not every single tiny detail of your life needs to be in your profile. Just hit the highlights, but hit them squarely.

5. Instead of telling who you are, SHOW it. Remember in middle school English, when we all learned that “to be” verbs are weak? That’s still true for your dating profile. Don’t just say “I am funny,” or “I am a hands-on guy.” Instead, paint a picture with your description. Think you’re funny? Tell a joke here and there in your profile. Are you really hands-on? Talk about something you actually did that got your hands dirty, like that motorcycle you fixed a few months back. Whatever it is that makes up who you are, it’s far better to illustrate it than to just make a statement about it.

Love the beach? Show your love (and you)!

Love the beach? Show your love (and you)!

6. Continue that showing with your photos. A good way to illustrate your interests further is to use photos of yourself enjoying those interests. Do you like to waterski? Have someone snap a pic of you on the boat, ready to go. Love your local sports team? Get a pic of yourself cheering them on in the stands. Just be careful that your “interest” shots aren’t too distant; if the people viewing your profile can’t actually see what you look like, they may not be interested in delving further.

7. For the love of Mike, DON’T LIE. It’s amazing that this needs to be said, but people genuinely struggle with honesty on their dating profiles. Remember, the key is to eventually meet your prospective mates in person, so if you lie about what you look like, what you do for a living, or even what your interests are, those lies will come out. That said, don’t be BRUTALLY honest; your profile isn’t the place to air all of your hardcore beliefs, opinions or baggage. Be concise, be illustrative, be smiling, and above all, be YOU.

Dating Profile Photos: Five Things You Should NOT Do

You can probably guess how important it is to have a photo (or better yet, more than one) in your online dating profile. According to eHarmony, profiles with photos are nine times more likely to get a communication. No picture, no dates. Prospective mates need to see you to get a feel for who you are, and a picture is worth a thousand words.

That said, there are certain things that should NOT be part of your dating profile photo if you want that photo to work for you.

1. Don’t do the “crop-the-other-guy-out” maneuver. You know what we mean: the pic where you’re clearly standing with someone, only the other person has been removed and the photo is cropped really tightly. Photos like this are tacky, according to eHarmony, and they also suggest that the other person now missing from the photo might be an ex of yours.

distance

Great view! But what does this guy LOOK like??

2. Don’t post a pic of yourself standing WAAAAY far away. Maybe your favorite photo of yourself is the one where you’re standing in front of the Parthenon during your trip to Greece. The sky is blue, the ruins are beautiful, and there you are, a tiny blip of a person almost lost amid the grandeur. Photos like this may be good for showing your interests, but they’re not so great at showing what you actually LOOK like. Also, some people may worry that you deliberately chose a distant shot because you’re not attractive.

3. Don’t post grainy, blurry or tiny images. What is this, 1998? Modern technology has gotten us to a point where there’s no reason your photo should be bad quality. Ask a friend to take a new, fresh picture of you for your profile if you really, truly can’t find any good ones of yourself handy.

4. Watch that background (and foreground). Plenty of decent profile pics have been ruined by messy rooms, hideous curtains or couches, or otherwise distracting and/or unattractive backgrounds. If you’re taking a selfie in front of the bathroom mirror, how clean is that sink area? For that matter, how clean is the mirror? Try to create a pleasant, non-distracting environment for your pic so that YOU are the part that the prospective mate notices.

Not a very attractive look.

Not a very attractive look.

5. Keep out the potentially-controversial. Whoever you are, you definitely have your own set of beliefs, opinions and habits. Maybe you are a proud hunter of big game. Perhaps you smoke two packs a day. Maybe you got arrested recently. Do your best to keep ALL of these things out of your profile photo. It’s not that you’re trying to hide who you are; in fact, your interests, drinking/smoking habits, religious/political beliefs and other aspects of your personality should be all laid out in the written part of your dating profile. Rather, it’s about preventing people from making snap judgments about you based entirely on a photo. If your picture shows you with a cigarette dangling from your lip, you may scare away any non-smokers who might otherwise have liked you once they got to know you better. If you use your mug shot as your profile pic, suffice it to say that there are some who may shy away from that. Be who you are, but try to keep your profile pic fairly neutral to give yourself the best chance of closer looks by potential dates.